The way the tasting menu started off we had great hopes that this could be one of those restaurants you just have to come back to. The first three courses listed were served together: a lobster custard with cod roe, lobster chunks and gold leaf topping, the roe popping in the mouth and a broth backing up the custard to bring out both the main tastes; followed by a really light lobster bun with some contrasting lime; and a crunchy lobster tempura very well balanced by the sweet and sour sauce. All three sensational. However, the great impression made by these plates was very much tempered by our reflection that it appears that the number of courses claimed to make up tasting menus is becoming more and more questionable and we are not ready to accept that what used to be called amuse-bouches or come presented in pairs may be counted as “courses”. There are times, as well, when it seems that liberties are really being taken, and serving a chunk of admittedly very good bread with equally tasty butter as an actual course amounts to having a laugh at the expense, and we do mean expense when you look at the price of the menu, of the diners. For two-star Whatley Manor to resort to such things is disappointing, particularly when there were so many excellent, proper, courses served. I was less taken than my wife by the “risotto” that followed, the rice being sushi rice which I found too soft to be authentic and outshone by the super chorizo vinaigrette which worked so well with the Scottish scallop and its accompaniment of fried kale and dehydrated scallop roe. Things started to look up again with squid-ink tortellini matched against divine pork belly, spring onion rings, cabbage and a well-judged pork jus, and equally appealing was the combination of salmon topped with Iberico ham and green grapes supported by a roll of turnip shaving, caviar and oyster leaf, all this blended together by a turnip emulsion reminiscent of parsley sauce. Then came excellent pigeon, inevitably from Anjou, as tasty and tender as could be, ably attended by crispy fried mushroom, radicchio, quince, and properly zesty horseradish. We were not sure whether the next dish was designed to be a palate cleanser or a dessert, but not to worry, it was a delightful baked yoghurt, presumably Greek, with a matcha crisp, olive oil jelly, lemon curd and a sharp and sweet custard, which satisfied all the taste demands made at this stage of the meal. A rather nondescript caramel custard tart with a seaweed crisp followed and then finally there was the “treat trolley”, which was basically for diners to be served with petits fours but brazenly included as a course on the menu. In conclusion, with the best will in the world, there was no way that we had two-star service from the willing but clearly under pressure and, in some cases, underschooled waiting staff and the seemingly overloaded wine waiters; this definitely needs tightening up.