Living so close to and working in central London, there’s always a new restaurant opening, not to mention the hundreds of already established eateries around the capital - which leaves diners literally spoilt for choice on any given evening. With such an array to choose from, I find that I tend to neglect the local cuisine on offer here in Essex.
So my friend and I decided to book a table on a Saturday evening in March at The Manor, Rainham. The Manor is a hotel and restaurant located on the Berwick Pond site that reopened a few years ago after a complete refurbishment. It’s interior is very simple, yet elegant with classic neutral colours throughout which immediately impressed Jenni and I - the local competition is made up of 3 or four pubs, that have seen far better days!
Not wanting to fully sacrifice a night on the tiles, we requested an early 7 o’clock table, and so were surprised to find the place busy on arrival - and simply buzzing by the time we left. We found the staff incredibly attentive and professional - again a far cry from other local establishments.
The menu is not what you could describe as vast, by any means, however I found myself drawn to at least 3 or 4 dishes on both the starter and main course menu, as it all sounded sensational. After careful consideration I opted for a Chicken, Bacon and Potato Terrine with homemade chutney. I have to admit that a contributing factor of this decision was pure curiosity - I’ve wanted to try a terrine for a while. When it arrived, it was presented beautifully and I was not disappointed. The flavour and texture were like nothing else I’ve ever tasted - the salty bacon surrounded a mixture of herby chicken with thin layers of potato. The chutney, was more like diced beetroot, and the only minor complaint was that this could have done with a little more moisture, but that is if I’m being very picky.
Jen’s starter filled me with food envy immediately, I’d liked the sound of it on the menu, and after pinching the obligatory spoonful, I found myself fighting back an urge to cry out ‘I want that one’ in the restaurant - luckily a great deal of self-restraint prevented me. She had an Almond and Butternut Squash Risotto and it was cooked to absolute perfection. With just a smattering of parmesan, the almond flavour mixed with the squash made it perfect for someone with a sweet tooth, like myself.
For a main I chose Sea Bass with Vanilla Mash, Pancetta, Peas and Clams - one word - divine! Again with my sweet tooth, the vanilla mash was delicious, the fish was cooked beautifully to the point where it just melted in the mouth, and the salty pancetta and clams provided the perfect contrast to the sweet mashed potato. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish.
My friend also went for a fish dish; Cod with Butterbeans and a Pesto Ragout. This again, was scrumptious, cooked well and ticking all of the right boxes. A selection of vine, roasted tomatoes finished this dish off and helped make the presentation.
Being a greedy sort, I’m never one to turn down a dessert and despite being fairly full, I have to say in this instance - thank goodness! Jen and I finished our meal off with fresh fruity sorbets, Jen went for a mango number and found it full of flavour. I opted for a lime concoction and it was truly amazing. Sharp citrus shot through my mouth, instantly cleansing and refreshing my palette. The sorbet really packed a punch and the chunks of lime zest helped to make an interesting texture too. As sorbets are often sen as a healthy option, I’m so pleased to mention these were served with a still-warm brandy snap biscuit, which was buttery, crunchy and helped to up the calorific intake superbly.
Jen and I completely enjoyed our meal. We paid around £80 for both of us, including a couple of alcoholic drinks and enjoyed the lively atmosphere of the place and the friendly, efficient service. I love London and enjoy trying out all it has to offer, but after a fabulous evening at The Manor, it has persuaded me to try out a few more places closer to home in the future - so watch this space……..
To book a table or room at The Manor call 01708 55 55 86 or visit http://www.themanoressex.co.uk/index.html