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The Manor

42 West Boylston Street, West Boylston

508-835-4722

www.ourmanor.com

By Bernie Whitmore

If the Manor occupies a place in my personal pantheon of special Worcester-area restaurants, it may be due to the Greek influence that appears throughout their menu. Or it might have something to do with their introduction of fried mac & cheese, an appetizer whose availability was brief but proved a basic tenet of American cuisine: everything’s better deep-fried.

On a recent visit, it took but one step in the door to see that major changes have been made to the Manor. A lounge called Pub 42 has been created and, that night, was featuring Team Trivia (What was the first prime-time animated TV show? The Flintstones?) My friend and I were led past the trivia clamor to the newly configured dining room with its wall of windows overlooking a quaint corner of West Boylston. Here it was decidedly more sedate; the hushed drone of seventies soft-rock hits posed its own questions such as who sang “Muskrat Love?” And has anyone ever figured out why?

These brainteasers were brushed aside as we opened our menus to plan our meals. I take notice when restaurant owners offer cuisine of their ethic heritage; it means not only variety, but these tend to be dishes in which they take the most pride. After scanning the Manor’s Greek specialties, my dining companion and I decided to share the Greek Sampler appetizer. It was presented on a large oval plate with a basket of olive bread sliced cracker-thin and a bowl of oil for dipping.

At the center of the sampler were the warm appetizers: spanakopita, spinach pies made with flaky pastry baked buttery golden brown and dolmades, grape leaves stuffed with a mixture of ground meat and rice. But the real feature of this dish was the snow-white feta cheese ~ soft and creamy, it tasted superb on warm triangles of pita bread. Rows of tomato wedges and cucumber slices along with a toss of kalamata olives gave the dish color and crunch.

Our waitress seemed surprised when we noted that the sampler lacked tzatziki sauce. This refreshing mixture of strained yoghurt, shredded cucumber, lemon and garlic is standard Greek fare that was promised on the menu. She quickly returned with a small dish bearing two tiny plastic cups.We pried off their little tiny caps and scraped out the contents, passable tzatziki into which we dipped the remaining bread.

Indeed, the Manor seems to favor these plastic portion-control cups. Our appetizer came with two other sauces thus contained as did the dressings for our crunchy garden salads. It may seem a trivial point, but after a while the table was littered with all this plasti-ware and in an age when we’re discouraged from using plastic grocery bags, I had to wonder: does the economy they deliver to kitchen operations offset their tackiness? Let’s send that one over the wall to Team Trivia.

Soon enough, though, the table was cleared of debris and our entrees were served. My choice, Dijon Scallops, covered another one of those large oval platters. The Manor doesn’t skimp on portion size; this dish boasted nearly twenty bay scallops sautéed with scallions in a creamy Dijon mustard sauce and served over a bed of buttery rice. There was way too much to finish but the flavors and textures were so rich and seductive that I kept snagging another forkful long after I’d pushed the plate aside.

My friend went with a slab of the Manor’s Prime Rib. Mindful of doctor’s advice, he ordered the Queen cut, which he found to be a satisfying portion ~ tender, juicy and flavorful throughout. It came with a king-sized foil-wrapped baked potato that he slathered with gobs of sour cream and butter. There’s a limit to how much you should worry about cholesterol in one evening, right?

Throughout the past decade, the Manor Restaurant has continually evolved; a vigorous expansion resulted in huge function rooms and now their Pub 42.What has remained constant are their fair prices for solid home cooking that occasionally crackles with brilliance.

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