As I mentioned previously, I was set for my birthday weekend in the Lake District. More specifically a Gastronomic delight in the village of Cartmel. Home of the Sticky Toffee Pudding. The plan was dinner at the Two Michelin Star L’Enclume, walking the 13 courses off in the hills on Saturday, followed by dinner at Rogan and Co on Saturday Evening. The photo above is of Loughrigg Tarn and the most beautiful Langdale Pikes. The main photo is how it was on a Saturday afternoon, I do believe we were in heaven.
1) Oyster Pebbles: Beautiful savoury macaron with an Oyster Cream and apple filling.
2) Butternut Squash with fresh curds, followed by Smoked Eel and Ham Fat Croquette. The squash tuile and curds were a perfect combination of crunch, chalky cheese with sweetness to balance. The tuile sticks to all of your teeth and you look for a tooth pick. Amazingly, as you eat the eel croquette it washes all of this away. Brilliant texture and good smoked taste. This little morsel was one of the highlights of the night.
3) Squid and Chicken: Excellent squid ink cracker with a chicken mousse and crispy chicken skin. All a mouth watering experience.
4) Crispy Potato, Coddled Eggs: This is served in the most delightful ceramic pouches. Coddled eggs in the bottom, a fantastic mashed potato foam topped with crispy potato crumbs. If only both of these were for me!
5) Cod “yolk”, sage cream, radish, salt and vinegar. An interesting dish, the cream was perfectly balanced with sage, the yolk was a yolk and the puffed rice salt and vinegar added a wonderful texture but were over-seasoned. They were so overpowering the whole dish tasted like you were eating the seasoning from the bottom of a salt and vinegar crisp packet. What this has to do with sage was beyond me.
6) Westcombe dumplings, beetroot and watercress: The most sublime dumplings with a hint of the cheese coming through them. Supported by the beetroot and the most amazing consomme to marry the dish together.
7) Venison, Charcoal Oil, mustard and fennel: This was the stand out dish of the evening for me. Succulent venison tartare with a punchy mustard mayonnaise. Laced with shaved fennel rings and pungent charcoal oil and some outrageous looking jelly tots. They were in fact candied fennel tots. Crunchy coating with a liquid centre. To die for. Just brilliant.
8) Jerusalem Artichoke, Lovage, English Truffles, Ragstone: A dish that defies it’size. There was so much going on. The skins of the artichokes had been hollowed and dried, filled with the cheese and flesh puree. A lovely cream with a truffle puree that wasn’t overpowering like truffles can be. Brilliant.
9) Scallop, Sweetcorn, Buckwheat and Meadowsweet: The description took longer to read than eat the dish. An excellent scallop, not the biggest. The buckwheat added crunch and the cream was there to make the plate look nice.
10) Heritage Tomatoes, Smoked Marrow and Borage: Sounds a little unexciting, but it was one of the best dishes of the night. The best tomatoes I’ve ever eaten with a perfumed snow and earthy salty marrow to give the dish some depth.
Unfortunately, by this time of the evening I was getting side tracked by our conversation little. This has led to me forgetting to take a photo of the next two courses. These were the main protein courses too!!
11) Sea Bass with sea Asters, mussels and onions: A sound dish but I can’t remember anything memorable or bad about it.
12) Cumbrian Galloway Beef and grilled carrots, brassicas and cider: The one disappointment of the evening, which has left a really bitter taste in my mouth. The dish was fine until I got to the beef. It looked perfect, but, the steak knives couldn’t cut it and my teeth couldn’t chew some of it either. This should have been the one thing on the menu that all the chefs could have cooked with their eyes closed. I wouldn’t accept it in a pub let alone the loftiness of this place. Really really bothered me.
13) Chestnut Cream, apple woodruff: Pleasant is about all I can say for this.
14) Apologies for the blurred photo. Cumbrian Slate, quince, lemon verbena and hazelnut: The textures of this dish were exceptional, ice cream in crunchy surroundings, meringues. Absolute pastry wizardry, unfortunately they forgot to add taste.
15) Blackberry with Plum, malt and stout: An excellent dessert, just needed double the size.
16) Cheese!!: An excellent selection of British cheeses, what we can do very very well in this country. All served with crackers and two addictive chutneys.
To sum L’Enclume up. It’s not really dinner or even a tasting menu. What you get are super sized canapes essentially. They are excellent. It is an incredible experience and I believe everyone should go before it gets it third star. For two, the cost was sub £250, and for this standard, quite simply it is amazing value.
The only negatives were that we ordered our coffees with a waiter as he cleared the last dessert. They never arrived after 30 mins of waiting. Once the maitre’d(Sam) was made aware of this he was genuinely apologetic. I’m not surprised, as on the whole, the service is impeccable. It was such an amazing relaxed atmosphere but efficient. They should all be commended. Plus the beef dish was not acceptable. I can turn a blind eye to that though as it was the best dining experience we have ever had.