Burley Manor underwent a full reboot of its decor and dining philosophy two years ago, and this change in direction continues to pay off for anyone who adores great food served in stylish surroundings. You arrive in an impressive hallway, complete with a welcoming log fire and enthusiastic, friendly staff before moving to the lounge bar, an intimate, cosy space peppered with leather and fabric club chairs and comfy sofas. It’s a great spot from which to enjoy some of the restaurant’s carefully chosen wine, and an unhurried peruse of the menu, which is based around dishes from the Mediterranean and Burley Manor’s ‘secret’ ingredient – the wood-fired oven.
Starters include Moroccan-spiced duck terrine, fig and coppa ham Carpaccio, and coriander, butternut and almond soup. It was all so tempting, but we couldn’t resist the tapas – 12 different vegetarian, meat and fish-based dishes. After much contemplation we opted for salt fish croquettes with lemon, crispy squid with chilli mayo, and chicken skewers with cumin hummus, dukkah and flatbread. The dining room at Burley Manor is split into two parts – the indoor, L-shaped room leading to a warm, elegant conservatory, with upholstered chairs and a relaxed feel. Beginning with some excellent bread and a subtle chilli dipping sauce, we managed to polish off the tapas – served hot and with plenty of herbs and a baked lemon for additional flavour – in double-quick time. Our next course comprised Spanish tomato and olive tart accompanied by fattoush salad with sumac and onions for me, and for my dining partner, bream with samphire and seaweed served with sautéed potatoes.
There are plenty of non-alcoholic choices for drivers, but for those with a designated driver there’s a great choice of wine from France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and the New World, available either by the bottle or carafe. Desserts are just as delicious. My partner tucked into the cheeseboard, which includes cheese from the Lyburn Farmhouse Cheesemakers. You can’t go wrong with a classic, so I chose affogatto; vanilla ice cream, espresso, biscotti and amaretto liqueur. I also fancied the spiced fig parfait but that’s the thing about Burley Manor – you know you’re going to return work your way through the entire menu.