Lancrigg is perhaps one of the most charming hotels in the Lake District …and even beyond.
It has the exterior of a rather good country home. Its pale yellow walls blend perfectly with the surrounding countryside. The stone barn behind is so picturesque that it could almost have been put there just to thrill Instagram aficionados.
This isn’t a 5-star polished emporium of hospitality but, rather, it has the cosy air of a private home. The rooms are what you would expect from a visit to your favourite auntie. They are comfortable but not flashy. Our bathroom looked newly refurbished and the bed soft. But many folks will come to stay for the walks and the food, and those dinners won’t be like your auntie’s – well, unless she was a superb chef with access to some rather good wines.
The dining room is the preserve of staying guests. It’s cool and contemporary but still retaining many original features. A large window looks out over the lawns and to the hills beyond. The menu is imaginative and offers something for every taste, and at very good prices. The chef takes advantage of seasonal and local produce and adds a great deal of personal flair.
Elegant comfort food
I started with Cartmel Smoked Salmon Fish Cakes with sweet pepper salsa and tartare sauce. The cake had just the perfect ratio of potato to fish and was light, fluffy with an oil-free and crunchy coating. This was elegant comfort food and would have made a perfect lunch. Portions are substantial at Lancrigg.
My guest, a chap who is oft driven to choose the soup option, picked the Spiced Carrot and Parsnip Soup with crusty bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Yes, just a simple bowl of soup but with the balanced flavours of those root veggies and a roll that was enjoyed to the last crumb. Food doesn’t have to be fancy to work, but it does have to be just right.
Cartmel Valley Wild Mallard with thyme and green peppercorn sauce and crushed roots was my companion’s main dish. The meat was pink and flavourful and beautifully presented. Game is a popular ingredient in Cumbria and there is perhaps no better place to find the freshest than here. Obviously, pick your dates, as the shooting season isn’t long.
I chose Sticky Marmalade Glazed Pork Belly with pork cheek winter casserole and black pudding crisps as my main course. This was a substantial bowl of vegetables and meltingly tender and slow-cooked meat, and topped with two thick slices of glossy pork belly strips. This was such a considerable spread that I didn’t manage to finish it, and so spent the rest of the evening wondering if it would be unprofessional to ask for the leftovers to be slapped between two slices of bread and served as a midnight snack!
Caramelised Custard Tart with peach sorbet and raspberries was our shared dessert. This was a large and traditional custard tart with a top speckled with a dusting of nutmeg. This would take the diner back to the old days when a bag of these tarts would be unlikely to make it home from the bakers unnibbled. This was retro joy.
The Kitchen at Lancrigg is exceptional. It offers a menu which is just as exciting as one might find in any cosmopolitan city of merit. Guests staying here are blessed with rural beauty, comfy beds, friendly staff and memorable meals.
Phone: +44 (0)15394 35317