When you just want to eat some comforting, tasty food then finding decent venues that will make all guests happy can be difficult. Trying to cater for different food tastes, a venue with atmosphere that looks good, and offers decent value too – well you may be hard pushed, until now.
The recently refurbished Manor House of Whittington on the A449, just outside of Stourbridge, is a worthy edition to the list of several such venues to pop up in the area over the past six months.
A fond watering hole for Black Country families looking for a drive out in the country, or for a pleasant amble on a sunny day from nearby picturesque Kinver, The Whittington (as it was) served up bland Sunday lunches and uninspired sandwich snacks. A recent major refurbishment has certainly changed that. Now a buzzing restaurant offering Josper charcoal oven made steaks, wood fired pizzas, and a comprehensive range of gastro foods as well as an extensive cocktail and wine list, the transformation is worthy of its £1.8m refurbishment by the Revere Pub Company (Owned by Marston’s).
From the outside the Manor House has been given a paint lift from its distinctive mustard yellow to a classier grey and has been lit up with pretty white lights. Inside it has been totally re-modeled. The previous function room has been opened up for more seating (comfy tan leather seats and wooden tables), atmospheric lighting, partitioned seating areas and long sharing tables.
The Grade l-listed building has kept much of its charm too; the little cosy nooks are still there but overall the space is much more functional and 100% more tasteful thanks to the interior design from Concorde BGW and the use of artists in the space to add a unique look.
Heading over on a Friday night (booking essential at weekends) it’s busy with people dressed up for birthday celebrations and couples having a meal. The menu is full of classic dishes that have been given an updated twist but after seeing the charcoal steak oven we know what it has to be.
Our starter choice is charcoal oven-roasted marinated duck skewers with Asian salad, a sticky plum dressing and toasted sesame (£7.50) and seared squid, Chinese leaves, mange tout with chilli & peanut dressing (£5.50). No complaints there; the big pieces of duck fillet are delicious and the squid cooked perfectly.
For mains we go for meat; a fillet steak and short rib from John Penny & Son. Matured for a minimum of 28 days the meat comes from pure bred Limousin and Charolais cattle that are fed on grass. Cooked over 400 degree coals the fillet (£23.95) is succulent and tender served up medium rare and is served with triple cooked chips, soy-glazed beef tomato, confit garlic mushroom and dressed rocket.
The slow-cooked braised short rib (£14.95) is served with a red wine sauce and horseradish risotto. It’s the risotto that intrigued us to order this dish and it was a good move. The short rib falls apart over the risotto and it is as mouth watering as it is substantial. The horseradish isn’t overpowering but cuts through the red wine sauce perfectly.
The portions here will not leave you hungry however we do (rather stupidly) feel we have to try dessert. We think we have chosen wise with the Manor House Sharer where everything is described as mini: we were wrong. The gooey chocolate brownie (very good), mini sticky date & toffee pudding (by far the best part of the dessert), lemon curd cheesecake, mini chocolate mousse & salted caramel sundae (£10.95) are served up on a large wooden board – they might be mini but you get two of everything. We managed a spoonful of each mini then had to stop!
On a previous lunch visit we ordered the Seafood linguine (with mussels, red mullet, king prawns, parmesan, chilli, garlic confit and truffle oil, £13.95) and the Gloucester Old Spot sausages (with creamed mash, bacon, green beans and onion gravy, £10.50) which were both substantial and both as tasty.
Already a hit with locals the Manor House will be hard to get in to during the warmer months due to its outdoor space. The garden has always been a draw but now it has an added fire pit, heaters, new seating and (right at the back and decently out of the way) a small child’s play area.
There are two cosy rooms full of character and original fittings that are ideal for private functions, small gatherings or parties and with their food offering it certainly wouldn’t make for a bad choice to celebrate a special occasion.
We’re looking forward to working our way through the menu.