Lee Clarke at Prévost at the Haycock Manor.

A first look- and taste - of Prévost at The Haycock Manor

Chef Lee Clarke has been on top of his game ever since he brought his own brand of fine dining to Peterborough a decade ago - but now, it seems, he has everything in place to take it to the next level.

Saturday, 24th July 2021, 5:27 am

Prévost, which achieved great acclaim from the food guides while hidden away for four years in a city centre mews, is now at the beating heart of the historic Haycock Manor at Wansford, which is nearing completion of a stunning, multi-million pound renovation.

He actually made the move weeks before lockdown, but got back to doing what he does best in a new kitchen and dining area - and with a super new team around him - last week (although booking only open from August 2). With building work still going on in the hotel it was a low key start, unheralded.

So let me be the one to start the fanfare.

Trumpets please.....

The dining room itself is light and airy - being mostly glass - nicely spaced out and I did like the island seating and the two “bird cage” tables; little things that grab your attention.

The furnishings, the crockery, cutlery, glasses, tableware, everything oozes class.

Ultimately, as with any fine dining restaurant of course, the food and drink has to stand out - something it does with aplomb.

So over the space of about three hours we were treated to the eight course tasting menu (£85) and the “wine experience” - eight different glasses chosen especially to accompany each course (£85).

The tasting menus are something that have brought Lee and Prévost to the attention of Michelin and Hardens restaurant guides in recent years but, for me, the new setting has allowed him to refine things even further.

The beauty of dining this way for me is that it is an opportunity to try dishes and indeed ingredients you might not otherwise pick out from a menu. Human nature tells you to go with what you know.

The same applies to the wine - for most people it is probably white, red or rose. Here it is all three - and more.

So after some tasty little snacks to whet the appetite it was down to business and to expect the unexpected as menu listings don’t tell the whole story.

The broccoli, black garlic, bone marrow and ox tongue was BIG on flavour and paired beautifully with a full bodied Bordeaux; the carrot tartar, white chocolate and caviar was sweet but far more subtle, as was the rosé; and completing the starters barbecued Jersey Royals, crab, chive and sea lettuce - again quite subtle with a nice South African white.

And so it continued on plate and in glass.

A someone who rarely eats fish without a coating of batter the chalk stream trout, pike roe, courgette and almonds was stunning, as was the Norfolk quail (confit leg and breast) with peas, girolle mushrooms, pork jowl and a glorious, rich jus.

The “cheese board” - a wonderful combination of Stilton, pear and truffle in a pastry crust - proved another standout dish, and I am no fan of blue cheese.

The Prévost lime honey pot was a surprisingly bold hit of citrus, sweet, and toasted sesame seeds while there was something different on every spoonful from the super sweet strawberries and sheep’s yogurt topped with sorrel.

The service was professional from the moment we were greeted on the car park - attentive at the table without being fussy, allowing us to get on with enjoying some fabulous food and drink. The input of the incredible sommelier was enlightening and staff from the kitchen - including Lee - describing the dishes as they arrived at the table was an added treat.

Absolutely top drawer hospitality and while still in its infancy it is only going to get better.

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