Firstly, I want to start this review by apologising and saying I am a complete tit for taking bloody ages to try out Smoke at Hampton Manor. I also apologise for using the word “tit”
Smoke is located in the stunning setting of Hampton Manor, which is jaw-droppingly beautiful, It is an enormous estate that now holds a Michelin-starred restaurant, Grace and Savour, a Victorian Manor House that looks like something out of a fairytale holding fifteen boutique bedrooms and Stuart Deeley’s first restaurant, “Smoke”. If you’re unfamiliar with Stu, then let me fill you in. Stuart won the title of MasterChef: The Professionals in 2019, and he has worked in some of the city’s best restaurants, including Simpsons and The Wilderness. Now, he is hidden away within the beautiful grounds of Hampton Manor in his restaurant “Smoke.” Mysterious yet the smoke is pretty inviting!
The interior is rustic throughout, almost like walking into my dad’s garden shed, If my Dad had a luxury garden shed with leather chairs, steel and iron throughout. Glistening glasses and copper lamps create a warm ambiance, and there’s a lovely view of the glass house where they grow some of the ingredients used in their cooking. We took our seats, were given the menus, and I squealed with excitement, “They do orange wine!” Now, that’s the way we like to start! Sadly, I didn’t take note of the name of the orange wine (Bloody numpty Amy), but luckily, there are only two, and I couldn’t decide between the two as they were so refreshing and beautifully flavoured and therefore I must advise you to order both.
Not a fan of orange? (You are killing me man!) then the wine list offers a good variety of options that cater to all palates. It offers something truly special – wines on tap! Smoke is committed to serving up sustainable, exceptional quality wines that are grown without chemicals or pesticides, with a focus on quality and sustainability, Smoke’s wine list is a true testament to their commitment to offering the very best and guess what? I felt on top of the world when I left and didn’t suffer a dirty hangover the next day, SCORE!
We opted for the lunch menu, which consisted of three courses for £60. Ingredients are especially selected and cooked over coals to optimise flavour and intensity, creating that smoky texture – We couldn’t wait. We started our meal with an introduction course that featured garden vegetables such as beetroot, radishes and kale served alongside Cobble Lane cured meats with a nasturtium emulsion and sunflower seeds. I love a good picky session and scooping the silky nasturtium emulsion and spreading it all over the freshly baked sourdough was just heaven. Kale so crispy and full of flavour, beetroot so sweet and combined with the smoky cured meats – a truly delightful experience. We got a bit carried away and totally forgot; this was not our starters. “Are you feeling a bit full?” my friend Josie asked. Bloody full at this time?! The party is only just getting started!
Next, I had the Crispy Ox Cheek, Pickled Walnut, and Sherry Jelly. At first, it looked like a bird’s nest on my plate. I never thought a bird’s nest would taste so delicious. The ox cheek was perfectly cooked, with a crispy exterior and a tender and juicy interior. The pickled walnut added a tangy and acidic note that complemented the richness of the meat, and the sherry jelly provided a lovely sweetness! Every bite had me swooning, so much that I nearly fell off my chair.
We had the chance to taste the Scallop and Courgette in Thai Green Sauce (Stu wanted us to try it) and it was incredible. The scallop was perfectly cooked, with a delicate and tender texture, while the courgette added a nice freshness and a little crunch to the dish. The problem with this dish was, it was too good, like I could have had about ten bowls of it.
For my main course, I had the Berico Presa Pork with Artichoke, Grelot Onion, and Black Garlic. This dish is possibly the best I’ve had so far this year and I am going to spit out some fancy-word bars now. The pork was cooked to perfection, with a succulent and flavourful interior. The artichoke and grelot onion were a perfect accompaniment while the black garlic provided a subtle smokiness that enhanced the overall flavour. I want this on subscription! I know I’m no Gordon Ramsay or Brooklyn Beckham (lol), but my god that dish is possibly one of the best dishes I have had in a very long time and it didn’t end there. Caramelised boulangere potatoes were shared between the table, and they were like bloody gold dust. Thinly sliced, tender and caramelised to perfection. I would also like a subscription for these too please.
Feeling incredibly satisfied. Stu made an appearance and offered to take us for a tour. I think it was too much to ask him to roll me around, so we walked instead. Showcasing the beautiful walled garden where each restaurant at Hampton home-grows their herbs, vegetables. I got to learn more about the Manor Cottage (I wasn’t aware that you could stay there!) The walled garden also leads to Grace and Savour, where I had the pleasure of experiencing last year, and to no surprise, has received their very first Michelin star. David and Annette are a power couple that have really grown and championed this wonderful business, its truly incredible. We came back to Smoke, and I was eyeing up the lovely glasshouse, in which the team advised we could have our desserts inside. Light, spacious, and a beautiful setting to enjoy a fabulous cheese board!
For dessert, I had the Tunworth Cheese with Pear Chutney and Lemon Thyme Cracker. The cheese was creamy and tangy, with a slightly nutty flavour that paired perfectly with the pear chutney. The lemon thyme cracker added a nice crunch and a subtle herbaceous note that tied everything together. It was a delicious and not too heavy, just perfect. Josie shared her dessert, which was the 64% Chocolate Delice with pecan brittle and coffee ice cream. The chocolate delice was rich and decadent, with a velvet texture that melted in your mouth, while the coffee ice cream provided a refreshing and slightly bitter contrast that balanced out the overall sweetness
After our meal we stayed to chat with the staff, who were all so lovely and attentive throughout our stay. It felt like we were in a cosy, homely atmosphere, and we were really pleased with how brilliant the staff were. Their kindness made our dining experience all the more enjoyable.
Overall, my experience at this restaurant was exceptional. The food was expertly prepared, full of flavour, and inventive, and the setting was stunning. I left feeling incredibly satisfied but extremely frustrated that I had waited so long to try out Smoke. Michelin, if you’re reading this (which most likely you won’t be, but hey, a girl can dream right?), Smoke should be at the top of the list to explore. None of the dishes here are just “okay”; they are all exceptionally executed and were a constant reminder of why I love writing about food. Experiences like this will stay with me for a long time. Don’t do as I did, book immediately and treat yourselves. It offers a unique and unforgettable dining experience that is priceless.
Lunch menu is available from Friday to Sunday.