Food review: The Manor House, Kinver
For a intimate meal out, a bit of pub grub or just a drink at the bar, there’s one place to go that’s been transformed. Ben Lammas went for dinner. . .
The last time I went to what was the Whittington Inn more than 10 years ago it was in need of a good lick of paint. We ate in a gloomy corner next to some old curtains and what I think was a suit of armour on a pole. Eerie!
Now I know I am a little late to the party here, as it has been reopened for two years as The Manor House. . . but forgive me. . .with young kids I don’t get out much. But wow what a transformation.
It is astonishing – it’s gone from a tired old place you might have gone to for Sunday lunch in your muddy wellies to one of the trendiest looking spots in the DY postcode – and beyond. Now it’s a date night type of place – the type of place you might just polish your shoes for on a Saturday night.
Gone is the grimy yellow exterior paint and the crooked house look. Now you are welcomed to a modern, sheek looking place – it’s still recognisably the Whittington – the panels are still there, as is the old wooden framed inn doorway – but it looks like the Whittington that won the lottery, probably because it did.
Marston’s invested £1.5 million and it has been money well spent. We arrived on a misty evening and it emerged out of the fog glowing in the night on the A449 like someone who just had their teeth bleached. The huge car park is still there so there’s no trouble finding a spot – you could get a few coaches on there and still have room for dozens of cars.
Inside it ticks all the boxes – leather sofas, check, wooden flooring, check, beams everywhere, check, log piles and woodburner, check, craft ales, check, hipsters, check.
Yep The Manor House of Whittington – as it’s now known – is one of the new places to be seen. The Lyttleton move over, there’s a new trendy kid on the block. If you’re one for checking in on Facebook to show off to your pals (yes? you poser!) you’d definitely be reaching for the phone in here.
Though you might want to make sure it’s the latest iPhone or something so you don’t ruin the vibe. In all seriousness though it’s great to see what has been done to preserve and re-establish one of the area’s most historic buildings – dating back as it does to 1310.
Different areas offer space for private functions with little cosy hideaways. Then there is the dining areas that wrap around into the extension divided by glass doors emblazoned with the stylish new MH logo. The outdoor area also looks like it would be lovely in the summer or for a winter warmer outside by the firepit. And the bar looks like something out of a cocktail lounge.
OK so we’ve established the builders done good. So what of the service and food? We went on a week night but it was still busy – that said we didn’t have to wait around – we were greeted by friendly staff on the front desk and shown straight to our table. Chris was our waiter for the evening and he was both polite and helpful. Not being a wine person ( I’m a philistine, I know) I was straight into the ales – there’s Sunbeam and all the usuals from the Marston’s stable as well as guest ales that alternate, plus your bottled lagers and the like.
Food-wise there is a great selection of mains and sharer dishes that includes reasonably-priced wood fired pizzas and, for those in need of a good fill – charcoal oven steaks – though these as you might expect come with a heftier price tag – you’re talking £17.95 for an 8oz rump up to £30.95 for the 10oz rib eye all the way from the U S of A.
On the night in question we picked from the main meal menu – for starters we chose the marinated duck skewers, spring onion, ginger and noodle salad, sticky soy dressing for £8.75 and the crispy plaice goujons, brown crab mayonnaise, charred lemon at £6.95.
For me the duck skewers were beautiful and with a larger portion I would have been happy with this as a main option – it really was good and I can gladly recommend it. The duck was succulent and set off beautifully by the soy sauce. Helen was meanwhile left wishing she had been a little more adventurous with her choice of goujons – not because they weren’t good – but it was a difficult choice with Glazed pig cheeks with braised lentils and pickled apple at £7.95 and pork and chorizo Scotch egg, red pepper tapenade at £5.95 also sounding tasty on the menu.
For mains it was the braised beef short rib, Parmesan and rosemary polenta, crispy kale, red wine sauce at £16.95 for me and Lamb shoulder shepherd’s pie with Butler’s Mature Cheddar mash, pickled red cabbage £13.95 for her.
It was a lovely piece of melt-in-the-mouth beef with a rich red wine sauce. Sometimes with such a rich dish there can be too much of it but this was a perfect amount and not overdone. It was cooked beautifully. What could be better on a cold night washed down with a pint of ale. The kale was not overcooked but just right and the polenta lovely and crispy even tempting Helen to reach over and pinch a few.
Helen too was happy with her choice – the steaming hot shepherd’s pie was presented beautifully and the tender lamb was topped off with a Cheddar mash that went down a treat. We were glad to give assistant manager Chris Cunningham the thumbs up as he whisked by to top up the drinks. Room for dessert he asked?
Be rude not to of course. Veering off my usual course of cheesecake or brownie I opted for Spiced pear and gingerbread crumble, toffee ice cream at £6.25 and it was a treat. The warm pear with ice cream is a lovely combination and the crumble added that little kick that brought the dish to life.
Helen went for baked vanilla cheesecake, blackberry compote, honeycomb (v) £6.25 and was equally satisfied. It was not too heavy or chunky as some cheescake can be and the biscuit base was lovely and crumbly. Sitting in our food comas we just about had the energy to agree to coffees as we continued to marvel at the makeover of the place and wonder, whatever happened to that suit of armour?
One little grumble was the chairs we were in by the doors to the outdoor area were not the most comfortable and had us shifting around a little.
But it wasn’t much of a problem for what was a lovely evening in a lovely place that I have no doubt we will return to soon. Or when we can next get babysitters anyway. . .