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Review: Whatley Manor, Easton Grey

Tofu and caviar

Tofu and caviar

The infusion of Japanese and east Asian ingredients and techniques into modern British high-end dining is in full swing, and the work of chef Niall Keating at Whatley Manor is a pretty spiffy example.

Lime and parmesan crackers were a great start: two ingredients I don’t think I’ve ever seen listed together, but the perfumed lime and nutty parmesan married really well. A couple of nibbles later, a beautiful piece of turbot balanced on a crisp wedge of pear was less of a happy marriage. It sorta makes sense on paper, but the scrunch of the fruit was all wrong with the toothy piece of raw fish.

Tuna and kimchi

Tuna and kimchi

That was a rare mis-fire, though. I particularly loved a white disc of silken tofu, like a savoury pannacotta, with a scoop of Exmoor caviar on top and a warm chicken broth because tofu loves umami. Raw tuna and kimchi in a delicate pastry basket was my “ok, I’ll take ten of these!” dish. Genuinely impressed with how little they’d toned down the funky kimchi hit, given how often a crisp white tablecloth is taken as an excuse to take all the punch out of oriental sauces and combinations.

We enjoyed about a dozen courses in all. The main of pigeon was less exotic than the preceding starters, but beautifully cooked with a charred lettuce accompaniment and a good, deep, gravy. Big fan of the pre-dessert; a good clementine sorbet with generous black truffle shavings and a couple of shiso leaves. Now that’s what I call fusion! The main dessert was a very pretty apple dish.

Pigeon

Pigeon

Shout out to Whatley’s sommelier, who was very helpful and really knows his stuff. The wine list was on the expensive side, perhaps not surprisingly, but our selections all turned out to be superb. The tasting menu is £110 without wine. It’s also worth mentioning that Whatley Manor is an elegantly bucolic spot for a meal. From my experience, it’s a menu high on invention, and if a few of the plates aren’t quite masterful yet then that’s quite made-up for by the obvious love of experiment. I’d say the price is fair and I’d recommend a special trip.
Apple pud

Apple pud

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