The Manor: Another reason not to leave Clapham

One of my favourite grazing spots in London is a little place on Clapham Common called The Dairy. It’s the brainchild of Irish couple Robin and Sarah Gill; Robin manning the stoves, Sarah looking after front of house. Before opening the Dairy in March 2013, incidentially also when Very Kerri launched, Robin was hopping around Europe doing stints in the likes of Frantzén in Stockholm and Noma in Copenhagen. Following every experience in the Dairy, I walk away inspired, having discovered something new. In light of this, you can imagine my delight when I heard there was a baby sister on the way; The Manor, only a five minute walk away.

Take the bull by the horns.
I am fighting a fierce November gale as I charge towards The Manor from Clapham North Tube. The bartender starts whipping me up an apple and cucumber martini before you can even say Negroni Spagliato, which I guzzle down with gusto. A welcome drink on the house for the soft launch is a nice touch. Next up is a Gin and Tonic Martini; strong on the quinine front, bringing out the botanicals in the gin, making for a sort of refreshingly clean dirty martini.
An apple a day.
[![Stir Me.](](
All stirred up. Or down.
[![G&T Martini.](](
That would be the G&T Martini.
You’re probably wondering if I even ate in this place at all. Well I did. And it was damn good. The Dairy’s value for money element has been translated to the Manor; there aren’t many places where you can enjoy a sumptuous eight course tasting menu for £42, so get involved. A fresh sourdough loaf and slices of warm gluten free bread arrive with whipped chicken butter on rocks. They were governed by a basement kitchen in this site, so in an effort to bring some theatre of the kitchen to the floor, they created the pastry counter; a clever move, because that waft of freshly baked bread is a very lovely thing.
[![Who's the breadwinner now?](](
Who’s the breadwinner now?
Head Chef Dean Parker soon appears with a little plank of homemade pork and beef charcuterie. Both are melt-in-your-mouth good, but the latter has me weak at the knees; the rich nutty texture is marvellously moreish. All of this is made even lovelier by a Burgundy sparkling wine which is a cracking BTG option. In other news, cauliflower comes with a welcome Middle Eastern twist in the form of cocoa nibs, medjool dates and yoghurt. Flavour is one thing, but to create this many textures on one dish is no mean feat. Hats off lads.
Cauliflower might never be the same again.
It’s stiff competition but Applewood smoked cod with cream, spuds and oh-so-in-season sorrel could be my dish of the evening. I love being surprised and this knocks my socks (and shoes) off. Foamy cream contrasts beautifully with the acidic sorrel and the fish is slow cooked, resulting in such a pleasant flavour and, of course, texture. At this stage, there is a serious case of crockery porn going on because I am loving the big stone bowl in front of me, a bitch to carry up and down the stairs, I imagine.
Friday night fish and chips.
[![Crockery Porn.](](
Crockery Porn.
Since Beaujolais season is upon us, it’d be rude not to join in, and a 2012 Domaine Marcel Lapierre Morgon is just the ticket. Braised pig just falls apart upon touch and is enhanced by the accompanying rich morcilla and roasted squash. You know me and this family of veg; I just can’t get enough. Next on the agenda is hay baked pigeon with grains and granola. Can I have this for brekkie tomorrow!? It’s not completely gluten free so Chef Dean suggests I have aged hanger steak instead. Look, anything that comes with scorched bone marrow is a bloody result in my book. Both dishes are served rare, so you can really savour the flavour of the meat. How Very Kerri.
Beaujolais season. Rejoice!
[![Pigging out.](](
Pigging out.
We’re now staring down the barrel of a cheese option. Does a bear shit in the woods? Of course we’re going for it. Gooey baked vacherin is perfect with honey from the Dairy’s rooftop hive. Buzzing.
Getting baked (Vacherin).
As you know, save dark chocolate, I’m not really a dessert fan, but the liquid nitrogen churned ice-cream has caught my eye from the pastry counter a few times tonight, so I am a little bit excited. First up, we’ve got a little bowl of Granny smith parfait with a shard of meringue and some crispy sorrel; all in all a pleasant palate cleanser. Then the showstopper arrives; Jerusalem artichoke ice-cream (oh yes) with crunchy creme fraiche (hell yeah) and poached quince. It’s a clever dessert because it’s crafted from ingredients which aren’t necessarily sweet, probably why I love it so much.
[![Granny Smith](](
A little bowl of Granny Smith goodness.
This is why you have an open pastry kitchen.
New favourite ice-cream flavour: Jerusalem artichoke.
Over the course of the evening, I notice random drawers disappear from a mini chest of drawers on the pastry counter. Now I find out why. One of said drawers arrives with two little madeleines, gluten free no less, in it. Isn’t that just lovely. As a side note, the coffee is rock and roll, too. This is only the bloody soft launch! I’m going back for the real deal ASAP.
You can’t argue with a drawerful of madeleines.
[![Leaving my mark.](](
Leaving a splash of Very Kerri at the Manor.
Five Very Kerri things about The Manor
  1. Underselling and overdelivering
  2. A celebration of texture
  3. Open pastry counter
  4. Sexy crockery
  5. Whipped. Chicken. Butter