I cannot explain why Cumbria’s restaurant scene is such a phenomenon, but I can certainly enjoy it. Being surrounded by the stunning landscapes, from which Cumbria yields its culinary bounties, has no doubt been the attraction to many top chefs, and Linthwaite House is no exception.
While its neighbour, The Wild Boar Inn, has the bath, this place has the bathroom. Seriously, the coolest bathroom; it has a telly, a view of the fells (negating the daytime use of the telly, needless to say) and a very big bath.
The room was gorgeous, overlooking the hotel’s very own fell and lake, so dinner was bound to be special.
Unlike said neighbor, this is a more refined experience when it comes to the food; not big, blousy, belly-filling barnstormers, but more of a delicate approach – hence why a tasting menu is the perfect showcase for the kitchen’s skills.
I quite like eating on my own – I mean, if I was single and miserable it would of course be different – as it gives me time to reflect on what I’m devouring, pondering process and skill, ingredients and surrounding, making me more at one with my first love: food. Linthwaite’s gorgeous dining room lends itself to parties of all sizes, so it was looking good.
I must just give credit to the service; the staff here are completely lovely and seriously attentive, but not too much; they strike a good balance between classic English formality and northern, chummy hospitality. This is a very good thing.
Dinner was as follows:
Amuse Bouche – for those of you that don’t know, this term means to ‘please the mouth’, and the crispy Allerdale risotto cheese balls did just that.
Beef – a lovely tender carpaccio with horseradish and beetroot.
Cod – this was a stunner, a Bombay-inspired crusty-coated chunk of fish with beautifully crisp slithers of onion bhaji and a dhal (lentil) puree. I went for a fresh-tasting Riesling, Wittinger, Trocken white with this – a perfect match, balancing out the spice with a zesty tang.
Lamb – roasted leg of Herdwick (not the whole leg!) which are the hardy, free-range fellers that roam the local fells. To my mind, the finest lamb available.
Blue cheese – a subtle mousse with the crunch of celery, pear and walnut.
Pistachio – a dry cake moistened with a lovely yoghurt panna cotta and coconut sorbet.
Apple – the best dish on the tasting menu. Warming and winter-spice inspired with a good dusting of cinnamon.
Hawkshead Gold was my fireside beer before climbing up the little wooden steps to Bedfordshire; and then, in the morning, that view.
Linthwaite is a truly lovely gastro-break choice. It’s got it all for a really romantic treat as well; I may well take the missus with me next time!