Luckily one need not venture to Rubano for an exceptional risotto because another amazing one exists in Oxford. I’ve been fortunate to taste Raymond Blanc’s spring/summer risotto several times and it surpassed all I tried in England. What might look a simple dish hides a complicated process. Replacing vegetable stock, water and an intense tomato essence cook the Carnaroli rice. Sweet cherry tomatoes are lightly blitzed and hung in a muslin cloth with salt and sugar to strain their liquid. The tomatoes are not puréed to avoid their skin breaking down and turning the essence red, keeping the risotto a pale golden colour. The vegetables within are lightly cooked to retain their sweetness and texture and are of excellent quality. Picked from the kitchen gardens their freshness is impeccable. Roasted halved cherry tomatoes, pine nuts for crunch, a light chervil mascarpone cream and garden herbs finish the dish that was always cooked expertly. The very essence of spring/summer on a plate, bravo!
My biggest recommendation here is to avoid the degustation menus and order this risotto off the Carte as a main course. Two reasons; firstly it is a league above the rest of the savory courses and secondly the portion as part of the taster is minuscule (see second photo) and it is so exquisite you will be left wanting more. If dining later in the year try the pumpkin or wild mushroom risotto (third photo) which are not quite as memorable but still very good.
Some recent feedback on Le Manoir has been hit and miss but don’t be discouraged. Just stick to the Carte and another tip is to order a light starter. That way you can indulge in more than one dessert and it would be careless not to because their pastry kitchen is one of the very best, if not the best, in the country.