#CumbrianTable, food reviews from around the county – Rothay Manor, Ambleside

Rothay Manor, Ambleside, Lake District, Cumbria

The only clue to what beauty lies behind the evergreen established hedge is a chic, grey and white sign saying: “Rothay Manor”, says Karen Morley-Chesworth.

Rothay Manor historic country house hotel & fine dining restaurant

Driving up the gravel driveway into the cocoon of the simple, yet stunning grounds you get the first glimpse of the white country house, originally build for a Liverpool merchant and for the past 81 years has been a hotel.

The charming English manor in Ambleside, at the heart of the Lake District is a hidden gem. Rothay Manor not only offers a first-class dining experience at an affordable price, it also successfully walks the fine line of customer service, being professional, welcoming and friendly.

New owners of Rothay Manor – simple & sophisticated refurbishment

Since the new owners took over the manor 18 months ago, they have enhanced the chic appeal with a simple, sophisticated approach to the décor – muted greys and off-white walls, crisp white linen, with a blend of traditional and modern lighting.

The dining rooms were the first areas to be refurbished, to reflect the modern style of cuisine served – luxurious, and made using local, quality, seasonal produce. The Sunday menu is simple – and perfect.

Award winning cuisine 

With 2 AA rosettes for their fine dining, you expect something special – however the pre-course tasters and set Sunday lunch menu surpassed my hopes.

The hors d’oeuvres, served in the light and relaxing lounge, offered something very different – a savoury macaroon made with mustard which melted in the mouth. A mouthful of delicious local pork and cheese croquette, all beautifully presented and served on a local slate platter set the tone for what was to come.

Pure genius – traditional northern bait a fine delight

The sour dough white and granary bread came with a choice of rich homemade salted butter or beef dripping combined with shallots and herbs. It was pure genius to take a traditional northern bait and turn it into something very special on the warn, fresh from the oven bread.

The pre-starter dish, a fondue topped with toasted seeds was the perfect blend of smooth and crunchy, and set the mood. My starter of Chicken Oysters with black truffle, salsify and granny smith was beautifull presented upon the large white plate. The sharp apple was the perfect accompaniment to the smoky flavours of the tender white meat and truffle. My dining partner enjoyed the Gravalax, beetroot textures.

Hogget replaces the common place lamb

Lamb is one of Cumbria’s greatest products, however the menu offered something a little different – a slightly older sheep, a hogget – between a lamb and mutton.

My Roast Leg of Ambleside Hogget was soft, and succulent, served with hot roast potatoes, perfectly risen Yorkshire pudding, chantenay carrots with a roasted carrot puree and served with a jus. This came with additional gravy and a hot bowl of kale and green beans.

55 degree, 16-hour slow roast beef

My husband, who is very particular about how his beef is cooked, could not have been happier with his main course of ‘55degree 16-hour slow roast sirloin of beef’, with the essential Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes.

Sweet delight to round off perfect lunch

With a pre-dessert of coconut, egg white and white chocolate mousse with hidden gem of fruit jelly, I skipped pudding for the coffee and petit fours. These included a sweet beetroot jelly that was heaven on the taste buds, and handmade salted caramel roll.

My husband ordered the apple tarte tatin, which I hoped to have a taste of, yet was gone before I had chance to powder my nose. However, I was assured it had the most delicate pastry – not too thick – and was complimented by a scoop of rich vanilla ice cream.

I always think a good test of a restaurant is not just the food and wine, it’s the coffee  and I was not disappointed. The caffatiere of ground delight was strong with deep flavour.

Nothing could be faulted with our Sunday dining experience. And it seems we were not the only ones to feel we had found a very special place to dine.  A number of our fellow diners were regulars, welcomed like old friends by the excellent team serving in the restaurant.

The Lake District’s hidden gem

The atmosphere at the Rothay Manor is wonderful – relaxing and friendly yet it still feel like it’s a treat.

With two courses for £17.95 and three courses for £24.95, enjoyed in a beautiful setting with luscious grounds to look out upon and attentive yet non-intrusive service, this must be the best hidden secret in the Lake District.

Rothay Manor, Ambleside 

Sunday lunch, August 20, 2017

5/5 stars.

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