The weather was glorious again on Sunday and we were all set to grab some fresh air at one of our favourite places and I knew I wouldn’t have to come home and do the cooking afterwards. Result! We spent some time enjoying Waddesdon Manor and the Manor Restaurant.
Waddesdon Manor is a National Trust run property, which isn’t far from Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire. I first fell in love with the property ten years ago, and since my son was born we’ve become frequent visitors. If you’ve been a regular reader here for some time then you’ll know just how much we love the place.
It has something for everyone, the house itself is exquisite, with wonderful stonework and intricate details wherever you look. It’s well worth a look inside, which is something we did a few months ago, so my son could see the beautiful elephant automaton. If you’ve watched Secrets of the National Trust, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Entry to the house itself is via timed tickets which you can arrange at the welcome centre by the car park. On this visit we wanted to make the most of the glorious weather so opted to not go inside the house this time around.
Our visit last weekend was to be a little different from the norm as we’d spend time enjoying Waddesdon Manor and the Manor Restaurant. We’d eaten in the Manor Restaurant before my son was born, but over the last eight years we’ve always eaten with him, down in the Stables Cafe. Our table was booked for 12 o’clock, so we’d decided to get there in time to visit the Aviary before lunch, and then continue our walk around the grounds in the afternoon.
These days there’s a large car park away from the house itself, with a free shuttle bus running every few minutes. We tend to catch the bus up to the house and grounds and then walk back. The walk takes 10-15 minutes. Should you take the bus, you can stop at the top of the drive leading down to Waddesdon Manor or carry on to the Stables, with its children’s play ground and cafe area.
There’s a real wow moment to be had the first time you see Waddesdon Manor, it’s like nothing else we’ve seen in this country, a fairytale Chateau.
If you take the path to the right of the walk up to the house, there are grounds to explore and plenty of trees to run around. This is a favourite part of the grounds for my son during the autumn months when the leaves are on the ground. We’ve had many an adventure there over the years. The path also leads to the Aviary, which is a much for any visit.
The Aviary building itself is rather beautiful and both wings are full of birds to discover. There are identification sheets on each cage and we always enjoy a bit of bird spotting time.
There’s also a rather impressive fountain to admire and a welcome shelter from the sun for a few minutes.
The birds at Waddesdon Manor aren’t just of the feathered variety, and these too, are much loved.
The flower borders at Waddesdon Manor are always a riot of colour and this summer is no different.
Enjoying Waddesdon Manor and the Manor Restaurant would see us sampling the newly relaunched Sunday Lunch option. The Manor Restaurant is to the left hand side of house as you approach it from the drive, and is entered via the canopied terrace.
The Manor Restaurant is open on Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm and serves breakfast, lunches and afternoon teas as well as the Sunday Lunches. It’s definitely worth booking ahead for the main restaurant within the Old Servants Hall. We were there early but by the time we left most tables inside and out were occupied. The Sunday Lunch menu is available between 12 to 2.30pm each Sunday until 28th October 2018.
There is a children’s menu available and the downside to my son being able to read is that as soon as he saw pizza on the menu, he wasn’t interested in looking at anything else that was available. There are set meal options available as well as a range of main meals and desserts. My son, as well as being an obsessive pizza fan, is also a rather fussy eater. He won’t eat soup, so we asked for a starter of Olives and Artisan Breads from the Sides options on the Sunday lunch menu. My husband opted for the Tomato and Basil Soup with Artisan Breads whilst I wanted to try the Ham Hock Terrine with homemade Piccalilli and toasted Sour Dough.
It would have been helpful if the Artisan Breads for my son and husband had arrived separately, as trying to convince my son that he had to share the basket proved a little tricky, but his Dad did manage to lay claim to a couple of slices in the end. The soup was full of flavour as was the terrine, and the piccalilli was the perfect accompaniment for it.
When I’d ordered our meal choices I had made a point of saying that the olives and breads were a starter for my son. So I was a little surprised when his pizza main meal turned up at the same time. I’d much prefer as an eight year old, that he ate each course at the same time as us, rather than sitting watching us eat, and getting bored. perhaps in future, staff could ask parents what their preference would be.
That aside he was soon tucking into his pizza, he’d happily have done without the leaves, but would have loved some crudites as a different side option. My husband opted for the 28 day aged sirloin of beef and braised ox cheek served with Rothschild red wine jus. I’m a sucker for a bit of pork crackling so my choice had to be the Pork Loin served with crackling, Bramley apple sauce and roast gravy. Both roast dinners came with Yorkshire pudding, goose fat Roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, vanilla carrots and braised cabbage with bacon. We were also supplied with peas and green beans.
Both roasts were delicious, the meats were so tender. We were both impressed with the quantity of vegetables supplied with our roast dinners. Often we’ve found that there is never enough to go round, but here, there really was plenty. I’d have preferred my gravy to be a little runnier, but I guess that’s just personal preference. All in all though, we were both really impressed.
For dessert my son chose Vanilla Ice Cream, whilst my husband tried the Cheesecake mousse, strawberries and strawberry parfait whilst I was sold on the idea of the Salted Caramel Tart with ginger ice cream and chocolate macaron.
I have to say that my choice was devine, probably one of the best desserts I’ve had in a long time and I didn’t want to get to the last mouthful of the tart. The Cheesecake mousse went down well with my husband, and my son is always happy to end a meal with his favourite flavour of ice cream.
Service was prompt and at the moment the Manor Restaurant is also offering glasses of Pimms on their drinks menu, this was a welcome addition on a hot summer afternoon too.
After lunch we headed back into the grounds of Waddesdon Manor to see how the planting at the back of the house is coping with the warm weather. The gardens are so well-tended and looked as beautiful as ever.
The fountains were flowing and it really is such a wonderful sight. We never tire of it.
Whenever we visit Waddesdon Manor I always make a point of telling my son to look up, to really take notice of the details everywhere. He also likes to see how tall he’s getting against the ornamental urns.
My son loves the freedom to run around at Waddesdon Manor. There’s plenty of space to just ruin up and down hills and run at full charge.
I did think we’d either walk along the nature walk or visit the adventure playground, but my son had other ideas. We headed to the side of the Stables to a little hidden gem that seems to be rarely visited by others, even on a busy Sunday afternoon.
It’s an area we only discovered last year with friends, and we’ve been going back ever since. It’s now my son’s favourite place to create adventures and also a great way to walk back to the main car parking area.
Of course the obligatory stick is soon found and he was shepherding us around the grottos coming up with all sorts of stories.
My son was happy to lead the way and show his Dad the pathway leading out into the fields beyond.
It was the perfect way to end our time enjoying Waddesdon Manor and the Manor Restaurant, and I’m sure we’ll be back again soon. I’m determined to try the Windmill Hill walk with my son before the year is out!
Have you visited Waddesdon Manor and tried the Manor Restaurant before?
disclosure: we were given a complimentary meal in the Manor Restaurant in exchange for this post. As always my comments remain my own honest opinions.