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Review: Soul-warming food at Manor House at Stanford Valley

Manor House tomatoes

The home-grown tomatoes at Manor House Restaurant in Stanford. Photograph courtesy of the restaurant.

Madré’s Kitchen was famous for its soul food in Stanford, so when chef Madré Malan announced plans to move to a new restaurant nearby called Manor House, we pricked up our ears. (Madré’s Kitchen has reopened as The Royal Oke).

Fast facts

Serves: Bistro classics with little twists, and soul food
Best for: Lunch in the countryside, with a magnificent mountain view
Parking: Ample
Star ratings: Food 5, ambience 4, service 4

Food

At first glance, the Manor House menu seems simple, featuring a range of bistro classics. We kick off with silky artichokes, fried in a thin, crisp batter and served with a heavenly lemony aioli. It’s served with a quarter of lemon, and calls to mind the experience of eating excellent battered calamari.

Chef Madre Malan with one of her team in the garden

Chef Madré Malan (right) with one of her team in the garden at Manor House Restaurant. Photograph courtesy of the restaurant.

From there, it’s on to sticky pork neck, served with pears and the most gloriously creamy butternut purée. It’s becoming rapidly apparent that the simplicity on the menu belies an extremely talented team of chefs. The mushroom risotto is outstanding – it’s silken and perfectly cooked, with a tiny bit of bite, and not mushy or grainy – with a powerful hit of parmesan and deep, soulful mushrooms. If, like me, you had temporarily become disillusioned by risotto, I urge you to try Madré Malan’s version.

For pud, we sample the rooibos crème brûlée, which has an excellent flavour, but sadly isn’t quite set in the centre. Alternatively, there’s malva pudding with brandy-infused crème Anglaise and vanilla ice cream or chocolate torte.

Drinks

The winelist offers a handful of affordable bottles, and some special, spoil-yourself wines. Shell out for a Restless River chardonnay, Vilafonte Seriously Old Dirt, or Bouchard Finlayson Hannibal, or simply quaff a reliable Raka or Newton-Johnson Felicité rosé. There’s a handful of options available by the glass for between R25 and 40.

Service

We’re given a thoroughly lovely welcome, as if arriving at a long-lost friend’s home. Our waiter is busy but laser-focused, breaking into a jog, occasionally, between tables.

Manor House interiors

The interiors at Manor House Restaurant. Photograph courtesy of the restaurant.

Ambience

Situated on a farm in the Akkedis conservancy, Manor House offers sweeping views of the Akkedisberg Mountains. The restaurant interior is mid-century chic, with beautiful wooden floors and contemporary furniture. A dense display of paintings and art – some of it quite valuable – adds character. (A painting above our table is casually signed ‘G. Sekoto’.) All in all, it’s a splendid place to enjoy lunch in the countryside. The best seats in the house are in the front half of the space, where windows let the view spill in.

Have you been to Manor House in Stanford? Write a review and give a star rating to put them in the running for the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Best Everyday Eateries. Rate them now.

Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here

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