IN 2013, Guardian food critic Jay Rayner said he believed Le Manoir aux Quat’Saison was the most expensive restaurant in Britain (he talked about paying £400 for two people excluding wine).

He also said the ‘ludicrous expense’ was ‘unjustifiable’ and ‘hard to excuse’.

It’s reviews like that which, for some of us foodies, are like crack to the addict: like desperate users knowing full well the absurdity of what we do, still we crawl forwards on our bellies.

Our lust was only whetted by the fact that, when we decided to try to book a table for three in early November, there were exactly three dates left available in 2018.

By extraordinary chance, one of those slots was that Friday evening at 7pm so we thanked our personal gods for the chance to splash our cash at the altar of Blanc.

Raymond Blanc opened Le Manoir in 1984 in a 15th century manor house just outside the village of Great Milton.

He had already been in England since 1972 when he started working as a chef at The Rose Revived in Newbridge. In 1977 he and his then-wife Jenny opened Les Quat’ Saisons in Summertown which was almost immediately awarded two Michelin stars.

Le Manoir, when it followed, also won two Michelin stars as well as five from the AA.

Arriving at Raymond Blanc’s 15th century Great Milton manor house on a dark winter’s night this month, I was escorted in to a softly-lit lounge and sat in a window seat.

The waiter then brought two plates of canapés: I can’t remember what they all were, but the fact that one included caviar set the evening off to a sufficiently luxurious start.

The menus gave us two options - a tasting menu for £175 or three courses a la carte for £125. Being sojourners in a strange land we all opted for the fiscally prudent option.

We were then brought a wine list the size of a short novel. As well as having wines from every vineyard in France it also spectacularly displayed the mind-blowing amounts one can spend on fermented grape juice, with the priciest bottle we found costing just over £9,000.

We went for a slightly more affordable 2014 Maranges.

Having ordered, we were led to the restaurant - a large conservatory-like room surrounded by ceiling-height windows with large palms dotted around.

The first course brought to our large table was one we didn’t even order - a small plate of scallops with a sweet fruity sauce which was all exquisitely cooked.

A waitress then arrived with an enormous basket of freshly-baked breads and talked us through her five different varieties. I started with a mashed potato and beer bun, and later tried something involving sun-dried tomatoes. They even brought us two types of butter - English salted and French unsalted. Perhaps not surprisingly for a French restaurant, the Gallic spread was far superior - and I don’t normally like unsalted.

Finally (though at no point in the evening did we feel like we had to wait for anything) our starters arrived.

I had gone for ‘Le crabe’ - Cornish crab with kaffir lime, coconut and passion fruit.

It certainly looked nice on the plate and it was a good bit of crab. It was not a blow-you-away kind of flavour but nor was it underwhelming: it was faultless.

Katie had the beetroot terrine with horseradish sorbet, of which the main attraction was that it looked like a piece of modern art.

For my main I chose ‘Le turbot’ with oyster, cucumber and wasabi. Again, it was immaculately presented and came with a bit of foam – just to tick another Michelin-starred dining box. Again, none of the flavours was overpowering and actually, for a dish including wasabi (speaking as one who has recently been to Japan) the lack of kick was a surprise.

One of the highlights of the night was the main course that our friend ordered - salt-baked pigeon which was wheeled to the table on a trolley. This had been cooked in salt dough shaped like a pigeon, and the waiter then ceremonially dismembered it, cutting of its head and tearing off its wings then extracting the actual bird inside.

For dessert I ordered ‘Les fruits exotiques: exotic fruit raviole with kaffir lime and coconut jus’. It was faultless.

After dinner we took coffees in the lounge and were brought a selection of sweet treats.

If I were to summarise the food at Le Manoir, it is as if a team of scientists have tried to create dishes which no one could possibly complain about, which they have achieved, but possibly at the expense - to my taste at least - of an element of danger.

The thing which set our experience apart from any other restaurant I have been to was the service: throughout the evening the staff were unfailingly polite without ever being stuck-up or robotic.

As Jay Rayner says, the experience at Le Manoir is fabulous. If you’re wondering whether or not to spend a month’s wages on a night out, the only question you need to ask yourself is – is it what you want to do with your money? In our case, for one night at least, the answer has to be yes.