The Manor in Clapham is the little brother of The Dairy, also in Clapham, which opened up late last year, bringing modern bistro food south of the river. Both boast ‘British, seasonal, sustainable & local’, and there are awards to prove it.
Walking into The Manor last Sunday was refreshingly busy & bright. White wash walls, a long zinc bar, lots of wood for the floor, walls & ceiling and beautiful wild flowers on each table. The L shaped dining room was packed with foodies taking numerous photos, which was testament to the perfectly presented, stylish looking food. The sun was out, so Rosé it was. The only rosé available, a Coteaux D’aix-en-Provence 2013, was pale, dry & delicious. The Manors’ daring, unfamiliar menu is crammed full of ‘modern’ dishes, created with cutting edge cooking methods like smoking, nitro-blasting, charring, fermenting & super slow roasting. Reading the menu, you’d think you were in an upmarket Mayfair or Farringdon restaurant from the complex & unique dishes. The savoury chicken skin butter with fresh homemade sourdough was sublime. The simplest of food done well cannot be beaten. If I’d left The Manor having had just the rose & bread, I’d have been a happy lady. Our six shared dishes were a variety of unique (NB: unique is not always good, but is always welcomed) flavours and textures like burnt kale with aubergine puree, crab with hazlenuts and quinoa crumbs. The hero dish was the pork belly reminiscent BBQ chicken skins & kimchi, which we could have eaten ten times over, it was hot, crispy & smokey. The zero dish was the very basic smoked asparagus with crème fraiche which was boring and at £8.50 for two sprigs of asparagus sliced thinly with some crème fraiche, it was an insult. I must mention another avoid: Wood blewit mushrooms with spinach, fermented nettles & hay which really didn’t taste like human food, more like Pedigree Chum – perhaps it was over-fermented? No dish came to the table as i’d pictured it in my head when reading from the menu. I can’t help but think it was all quite showy without the blown-away feeling they might be hoping for. By the end of lunch I found myself craving food I could understand. On the basis that it was an experience, and I learnt a few new things, I would recommend The Manor. Just don’t go with a fussy eater because they’ll walk away hungry. Style over substance sadly. Very stylish; little substance. Regardless of some dishes being underwhelming, the service, style & uniqueness of The Manor was delightful and I would recommend giving it a go, as the menu is ever-changing. Clapham-ites should be proud of this newbie. The London Whistler x P.s: Clapham dwellers and lovers can pick up one of these beautiful SW4 Postcode Bangles from Whistle & Bango for just £69. 148 Clapham Manor Street, SW4 (020 7720 4662,themanorclapham.co.uk, @TheManorClapham. Lunch: Wed-Sun noon-2.45pm. Dinner: Tues-Sat 6pm-9.45pm. Set lunch £18; bespoke menu £42; à la carte, a meal for two with wine, about £100 including 12.5% service.