Marygreen Manor Tudors Restaurant – I was offered a fabulous dinner in exchange for my honest review.
I’ve said before that one of my favourite things about blogging is that I’m able to help support some very worthy campaigns; and while that is true, I can’t deny that there’s also a less noble aspect that I also love…
Hubby and I recently had a rare opportunity for a proper date – by which I mean Pixie was having a sleepover and we had nothing to rush home for (if you’re interested, this second time went better than the first). So we fiiiinally decided to book at a table at a restaurant I’ve had my eye on for some time, ever since we were looking for a wedding venue, in fact. That’s more than four years. I know, I know, alas having a family does tend to put frivolities on hold.
Marygreen Manor Tudors Restaurant Review
I emailed Marygreen Manor in Brentwood, Essex to make a booking, and thought I’d chance my arm by also enquiring as to whether they work with bloggers… I was thrilled when they agreed to seat us for a meal from their (very fancy) à la carte menu, in exchange for my honest review.
While this is without a doubt a perk of the job, I always feel slightly apprehensive in case things aren’t as good as I anticipate. Because I am always frank with my readers, ergo: potential awkwardness with the brand. Not fun.
So when everything is perfect, it’s not only a pleasure – it’s also a relief. I suppose that makes it doubly fabulous for me, and may mean I’m somewhat biased in telling you that Marygreen Manor both met and surpassed my expectations.
Judge for yourself…
Marygreen Manor: Architecture and Interior
For a start, I must confess I’ve a weakness for Tudor: I go a little giddy at the sight of original exposed beams and wood panelling.
These are what first drew me to the hotel and the reason I was so keen to return for dinner. We discovered the building is 500 years old, so naturally little had changed about the beauty of the place; and since first impressions count, I was already feeling satisfied. It truly is a stunning piece of architecture.
Entering the lobby is a treat in itself: again, I’m a lover of some well-placed, subtle stained glass – and I wasn’t disappointed. As you’d expect, the interior is in keeping with the opulence of the period, ie. I was goggle-eyed and would have happily moved in.
We were shown through to the lounge area (dark wood panelling and chairs upholstered in rich colours), and brought snacks and menus. Hubby and I have been to several upmarket restaurants over the years, but this was the first time we experienced this; for rather than being taken immediately to our table, we were served drinks (cocktails, natch) in the lounge and left there to relax while we ordered and our food was being prepared. I thought this was a nice touch as it allowed us to enjoy the lounge and be entirely comfortable before going to dine.
The restaurant itself is equally stunning: split level with high ceilings; lots of beams; romantic low lighting.
And large tables – there’s nothing worse than sitting on top of each other in a restaurant, is there? We were delighted to have a round table too, which only heightened our comfort.
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Marygreen Manor Tudors Restaurant: Service
At a restaurant of this calibre, good food is basically a given; which means presentation and service comes under close scrutiny. We weren’t disappointed on either count. (Even the bathroom was beautiful!)
Pepe, our authentic Mediterranean waiter, was the consummate professional: he struck the balance between friendly and officious perfectly – and this is no mean feat. For a start, everyone’s opinion of what constitutes ‘correct’ is bound to be a little different. But from my own perspective if I dislike curt, abrupt staff – then I cannot stand over-familiarity: if I’m thinking ‘why not pull up a chair and join us?’ then something ain’t right! Pepe was obliging when my hubby asked questions about the building and the wine, but quickly took his leave once he’d briefly engaged. At a romantic dinner this is exactly what I would hope for!
It wasn’t just Pepe though, all staff were unintrusive and deferential, and we felt like royalty.
Marygreen Manor Tudors Restaurant: Food
A complimentary basket of bread was brought to our table – along with a pretty selection of butters! I must admit I’ve never had a range of butter to choose from, so that was a novelty; and of course I tried them all.
The cuisine itself was superb. And I may be fussy, but I was impressed that each dish came served with vegetables. I can’t help wondering what kind of person would rock up to a very decent restaurant and order a lump of (very sophisticated) meat – and no greens! Maybe that also makes me a snob? Meh. (Possibly a hypocritical snob.)
There’s something quite special about having tiny portions of deliciousness between courses. I can’t say the amuse bouche or palate cleanser were entirely unexpected, but I’d sort of forgotten they were coming, so they were pleasant additions nonetheless.
And if the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, then the way to mine is via surprise panna cotta.
Hubby and I noted the time between courses – but reminded ourselves we were very much not in a fast food restaurant. We realised that very often, semi-nice restaurants actually try to turn tables around rather too quickly – and it’s something we’ve become accustomed to.
Instead of being rushed in and back out, we were encouraged to stretch our evening out and enjoy the experience. And we really did.
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Head over to my hub round-up post for more home and lifestyle reviews.