We decided to book to go to L’enclume in Cartmel, Cumbria for our ‘mini’ UK honeymoon after seeing the genius of Simon Rogan on ‘Great British Menu’. We booked on the 2 day package deal that they run, which includes 2 nights accommodation, a 12 course tasting menu one night, and a 3 course a la carte meal at their sister restaurant Rogan and Co the other night. Unfortunately, or actually maybe fortunately for us ,when we booked we were informed that Rogan and Co was closed on the Monday and Tuesday nights that we would be there, and so our second meal would also be at L’enclume. When this second meal turned out to be a personalised 8 course menu, we certainly were not complaining.
So, onto our first nights food, and as we walked into the restaurant we were struck by the simplicity of the decor – wooden tables and whitewashed stone walls, quite stunning really. Our first ‘course’ was a selection of four canapés served 2 at a time. On the appearance of the first of these, we knew we were in for a bit of a treat; oyster pebbles and cream cheese wafers arrived at our table, with the oyster pebbles so well disguised amongst a box of pebbles that the waitress tried to take them away before we had even touched them!
These were shortly followed by eel smoked with ham fat, and crispy potato and coddled eggs.
Next came arguably the best dish of the evening, and indeed my husband and I did argue about this for the majority of the meal! A cod mousse delectably moulded into a ‘yolk’ with sage cream and salt and vinegar rice, was a sophisticated taste of the seaside and definitely my winner.
The following 2 courses were of similar exceptionally high standard, and both joined the ‘which was the best dish’ debate. In fact these 3 courses made up both our top 3, but in slightly differing order. Westcombe cheese dumplings with turnip and anise hyssop were amazingly smooth and flavourful, which the valley venison tartare with charcoal oil, mustard and fennel was my husbands particular triumph. Who would have thought that the addition of charcoal oil would lift a dish so much, but the flavour combinations in this course were nothing short of spectacular.
4 courses in and we were beginning to speculate at what point we were going to be really full, and my husband was trying decide whether he could possibly be foolish enough to go for the cheese course as well. As these deliberations continued, so did the fantastic food and pleasant and efficient service. We had a sea scallop with leek, cucumber and nasturtium, which was thoroughly lovely although perhaps not quite the innovation of the previous few dishes followed by a smoked egg yolk with pumpkin seeds and creamed kale which picked up the pace yet again. Following this, the course I had been slightly apprehensive about since seeing the menu, pickled lambs tongue. Now I’m not a huge fan of offal, but I will happily try almost anything that is put in front of me even when previous bad experiences have been encountered with the same thing. The tongue wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t blown away although I’m sure many many would have been. The redeeming factor of this dish – the goats cheese ‘snow’, melt in your mouth, refreshing and delicious.
The last 2 savoury courses consisted of butter poached plaice with cockles and girolles, and then a suckling pig with salt baked kol rabhi and mugwort. Perhaps the only criticism we had of the whole meal – slightly over salted bit of plaice – but then everyones’ palate is a different isn’t it. The suckling pig possibly the tastiest pork we;ve ever had.
Neither myself or my husband are particular fans of dessert, we much prefer the savoury bits of any menu and this makes it all the more hard to impress us with a sweet course. Never the less, the team at L’enclume managed to to this with all but one of the 4 dessert courses. The best of the lot, the ‘cumbrian slate’ which was in fact some crazy cross between blackcurrant jelly/sorbet that was simply sublime, and the oatmeal stout parfait with malt and plum – a perfect end to a perfect meal. I have a feeling we are not going to top this meal for a while.
Disclosure: We paid for our own meal, and all opinions expressed are honest and our own