10 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
my 50th birthday celebration
"we stayed overnight in the priory room so called beacause of the priory view..... very nice...very expensive......... we ate the ''tour'' a 10 course taster menu.....bursting with flavours and exotic taste......... we will go back it was an excellent evening and if you appreciate top quality food.........well this is the place to eat well it is a Michelin restaurant............. fabulous staff who certainly know how to work the dining room thank you for a night to remember............."
- Travel date: 13th August 2006
Great food dreadful service
"Wonderful food can not make up for the dreadful service we received. The staff were apparently unable to make any amends to the bill and asked me to recognise that they 'are only human'. A really disappointing stay."
- Travel date: 23rd July 2006
Well worth a visit
"This is a restaurant with rooms, so don't expect the 'standard' hotel experience even though the rooms are quite pricey. The restaurant and rooms are situated within a row of converted cottages at the heart of Cartmel village. Our room, the 'Priory View', was on the small side, but beautifully furnished and had a lovely view over the restaurant gardens, river and the famous Cartmel Priory; so can be recommended. There are nice touches like fresh milk for your tea/coffee and homemade chocolate cookies. The real winner though is the food - it is of the highest standard, with the option of a 9 course tasting menu or a la carte. Service is good and there is an excellent wine list available. Breakfast is also very good - very nicely presented. Cartmel, although only a small south lakes village, has a famous horse race meeting a couple of times a year and becomes very busy, with much of the village closed off to traffic, so it would be wise to check your stay does not coincide (unless you are going to the races of course!)."
- Travel date: 1st June 2006
Idyllic anniversary location...
"Just stayed the one night, and tried the 14-course taster menu. A great setting and v.nice rooms at a reasonable price (Â£150 b&b) - for the nature of the restaurant, nice to find somewhere that doesn't take advantage with its room prices! Meal lasted four hours and I suspect I don't need to cover the menu (covered more than adequately by other reviews!) but had great variety and a wonderful wine list. Maitre 'd and other waiters very helpful in detailing the courses and advising on wines, and know when to stay in the background. Thoroughly enjoyed it - wouldn't go back, but that is solely beacuse there are so many other places to try. Defintely recommend it."
- Travel date: 23rd January 2006
"Delightful setting, inviting bedrooms, and a marvellous eating experience amounted to a perfect evening. We were seated at 7.30, and were ultimately serenaded out of the restaurant by the sound of the priory bells tolling midnight 14 precisely proportioned and balanced courses later. Highlights too many to detail, though keep a special eye out for the Chef's initial offering, the Pig's cheek, scrambled eggs, and the cheese. Try not to feel too guilty if you do end up turning away the conclusive petit fours, I implore you however to find a little gap for them if you possibly can. You couldn't, nor shouldn't, do it every week, but the temptation is crucifying."
- Travel date: 12th October 2005
"I cannot praise this place highly enough. Wonderful room and aboslutely stunning food. The staff were exceptional. Needless to say I will be back."
- Travel date: 5th March 2005
Must be done!
"Well, what more can be said? Cartmel is a beautiful little village right at the edge of the South Lakes with 3 pubs and The Old Post Office that produces the infamous divine Sticky Toffee Puddings. You MUST take one of these home (although they can now be bought across the UK). All the hotel rooms are individual and we stayed in Beaumont & Fletcher (Â£180b&b). Lovely room although our only disappointment was the use of storage heaters ... not warm enough even in October! The restaurant is minimal and we chose the 14 course Intermediate Menu. As many of the courses have already been described all I can say is that this was plenty ... we certainly could NOT have finished the 20 course Gourmand! Each course was a taste sensation - even though you may not like it! The staff were friendly and helpful but the junior waiters lack the finesse expected when paying Â£75 a head (plus wine) for dinner). All in all, a wonderful experience that should not be missed."
- Travel date: 17th October 2004
L'enclume an amazing experience
"After reading and hearing so much of L'Enclume my wife and I thought it was time to pay it a visit and see what all the fuss was about. We were sceptical to say the least. We arrive on a cold Winters night and we were quickly taken to our room 'Beaumont and Fletcher'. It was a very pleasing room with a nice seating area, modern clean bathroom and an extremely comfortable bed. It was also furnished with some hefty period antiques which I understood were for sale. Anyway, to the most important bit, the restaurant. We had decided to see what this boy could do so we went for the menu Gourmand (18 courses). We were seated in the conservatory looking into a spotlit garden where we took some pre-dinner drinks. I would have thought some nibbles may have been on offer but then again we were just about to run a gastronomic marathon so maybe this was a good thing. We were sat at our table smack on 7pm where we could study the restaurant which was a very fine mixture of ancient and modern, "immaculate table setting" my wife said. We were told by staff not to eat too much!! Our first course arrived 'Lakeland slate of amusements' which was a curried pea mousse with a 'shaving foam' consistency, a full flavoured tomato cous cous and a shot glass of butternut squash and cumin soup. All very tasty. Course two was perilla and parmeasan french fries, tomato and bitter lemon grass, the latter two being little dots of very intensely flavoured tomato coulis and some sort of lemon grass jam with of coures the fries which were flavoursome and had the effect of wanting to eat a large bag of them. Course three was a square of fresh crab meat topped with what I learned was, an apricot tuille and sat on top of this was jelly like noodles which were flavoured with wild indigo. This was not all, next to it came a vanilla pannacotta with a blob of oscietra caviar on top, saffron crushed potatoes and blobs of apple and chilli sauces. The combinations of all these miniscule items was truly inspired and looked absolutely amazing. Course four 'Cubism in Foie Gras' One item like a pate in the shape of a tiny pyramid, one cube coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried and the third a foie gras ice cream, rich and creamy sat on a disc of pickled onion Turkish Delight. Steaks of liquourice and Sichuan sauce ran through it WOW! The picture was now begining to emerge that this was no ordinary restaurant even more so when served course five which was vegetables in suspense, fragrant myrrh pipette. Dried cabbage leaves contained various vegetables but next to it was a shot glass and a chemists pipette filled with vinegar flavoured with myrrh. Our waiter told us 'the vinegar is very powerful and feel free to dip the banana powder (which was next to it) with our fingers'. Once again an inspired idea the vinegars perfume being quite unlike anything I have ever tasted. Things 'a la greque' will never be the same again. Course six- Scrambled eggs with wild coltsfoot whatever that is but very tasty served inside the egg shell with a nutmeg froth on the top. The real suprise was the frogs legs which were in the middle. Excellent. Course seven - Poached Grilled Quail carmelised with tamarind, blackcurrant and Darjeeling. The quail soft and plump had a zingy outer because of the tamarind but combined with the blackcurrant and a Darjeeling tea foam it was taken to another level. One of the most outstanding combinations of the evening. A cucumber jelly and strawberry powder completed the picture. Course eight, another outstanding moment with langoustines, artichokes and truffle cooked in clay, mad barberry bark infusion. My oh my! Two clay pots were presented at the table and one by one they were opened to reveal what was inside. The smell that wafted out was quite unbelievable. Out of each one came a big fat langoustine, some tiny artichoke discs and some truffles whcih were silver served in front of us on to our plates. The infusion was served out of a chemist flask (is he trying to tell us something, this chef is a nutter). It had a tasty coconut flavour although I was told there was no such item in it. I asked to keep my pot to always remember this moment. Course nine - a slither of scallop on top of orangey curly kale, on top of the scallop a puree of some sort, which I fail to remember, deep fried sea weed and slashes of cardamon foam around it. Was not sure of the streaks of very strong coffee but the rest of it was tasty never the less. Course ten- another truimph in the shape of a morsel fo john dory flavoured with a herb called myrtle, a tiny quenelle of a ratatouille type mixture, a sphere of blended potato and goats cheese (deep fried) and sat on a dot of beetroot puree, lemon powder and another dot of caramel sauce. I was sceptical of the caramel with fish but I must say that I was pleasantly suprised. A work of art. Course eleven- another slither of bass had a fish flavoured ice cube sat on it, some brilliant braised chicory and a hot lime jelly which completly knocked our socks off but I could see its purpose. Running out of superlatives. Course twelve- Yellow split pea soup, praline bon bons, the bons bons being deep fried praline ice cream. Nice but this course seemed to make the least sense. Course thirteen - Our last savoury course before cheese. Choice of two here and we both chose the beef option which, wait for it consisted of chopped salsify and asparagus with a lovely rare medallion of beef on the top of it. Next to this was a tiny square of oyster mousse topped with a hot passion fruit jelly. Next to this was a hazelnut pavlova! It sounds mad but it worked together fantastically and to top it all a fennel coulis was poured on to it at the table out of a TEST TUBE. Oh my god!! That was it out of the savoury courses so now to the finale, first was the cheeses from the trolley, which consisted on no less than 22 perfectly presented cheeses. With breads of course. Course fifteen - Celestial potion, lemon effervescent. A lemon flavoured pill was dropped into a liquid which I was told will provide everlasting youth! It fizzed, I stirred, I knocked it back in one. I think the chef should sell this in Sainsburys and make millions. Course sixteen - Iced Apple Mousse, lovely and fresh tasting, a molasses milk shake which was a bit strong for us, a pine nut tart and the real star of a dish 'rosebud mousse granules'. They had the appearance of a granite but put into the mouth they instantly dissolved with no sign of ice and left a creamy mousse like feeling in the mouth. How do they do that? I was told it contained rosebud, ingredient X Y and Z and involved clever use of pacojet machine. Confused? Course seventeen - Coconut souffles were presented at the table in cups and then tipped out on to a plate containing roast spiced pineapple (very spicy) and mango chutney ice cream. A green sauce of I know not was poured out of yet another test tube on it. An amazing spectacle. This has to be one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted. The grand finale, Hot chocolate mousse came with a eucalyptus foam, a very strong ginger jelly and a scoop of smoked paprika ice cream. I loved the ice cream, but my wife hated it. What really made this dish however was a chocolate sauce injected through a SYRINGE. yes syringe in to the chocolate mousse. We had been chuckling all evening but this sent us in outrageous laughter. Well, that was it. We could not manage coffe or petit fours and the words dumbstruck and bewilderment where probably the most appropriate. We drank a half bottle of Sancerre and a bottle of Nuit St Georges which were suprisingly good. The service was refreshingly friendly yet professional. It was evident that they all had tremendous pride in what they were doing. The meal had taken three and a quarter hours. After a good night sleep and two portions of eggs benedict for breakfast we checked out and now was a time for reflection on the journey home to Sussex. A lot has been said of similarities of El Bulli but it was quite apparent Marc Veyratt is the infulence here ( indeed a signed copy of his menu and one of his hats hang on the wall of L'Enclume). Having been to El Bulli and Le Ferme de Mone Pere I recognise that and I have to say L'Enclume is right up there with them. If the standards we experienced are consistent it has to be one of the best restaurants in the World, a bold statement I know but it has to be said a spiritual experience."
- Travel date: 3rd March 2004
Poor customer service
"Had 2 visits to L'Enclume, the first July 2003, fantastic and on this basis we booked for Valentines Night 2004 seven months in advance. We arrived last night to find that despite the deposit paid of ?100 they had given our room out to someone else. The response to this was astonishing! Eventually they found rooms for us in a local B&B but wanted to actually charge us for dinner! Things are all well and good when the praise and compliments are flying but when they made a bad mistake they were unable to smooth things over satisfactorily. DO NOT GO"
- Travel date: 15th February 2004
"Review of L'Enclume Restaurant December 2003It was a dark and stormy night.Thanks to the inordinate generosity of my parents offering to do a little grandchild sitting; partner and self were free for a day and night to enjoy ourselves in the north-west of England. So, after a quick look at the (rather dismal) weather forecast, we were off. We spent the morning at the wonderful Boundary Mill looking at incredibly cheap clothes and household goods (all the best names - even had our Wedgewood set there for Â£3 a plate, jaw droppingly less than we paid).Then we wandered in the lashing rain through Skipton (very attractive) to Kirby Lonsdale - again very attractive little town and quite quiet in the pouring rain of a late December day - for a little late Christmas shopping.After completing our purchases it was underway to Cartmel, location of the very well reviewed L'Enclume restaurant. Although there seems to be no close centre of heavy population, the darkening wet roads were very busy with many cars which was surprising. Following the directions into Cartmel, we missed the turn on the first pass through but a second go was rewarded with site of the restaurant on a corner of the road. The car park is just a small cobblestoned area in front of the Post Office with room for about 3 cars so be early if you want to park there.We were welcomed at L'Enclume and shown to our room directly, which rather surprisingly involved going back outside and in through another door to some steps up to the Print Room. It was attractively decorated, but quite small (for the price), and I started to have misgivings about the very expensive night ahead. Still , we showered and relaxed and were ready to descend. When I had booked , I had asked the appropriate time for the table booking as we were going to try one to the extensive Taste & Texture and was told that no later than 7:00 would be advisable.After aperitifs in the conservatory (alas no view due to the dark and rain), we decided on the Taste & Texture Intermediate menu (8 starters, one main and 3 desserts). A close look at the menu swiftly lead me to ask for help in choosing wine (what on earth could match all those different flavours). I had read that you could ask for a pre selected glass at each course but this option seems to have been discontinued, so the sommelier (sp) suggested a Sancerre for the first half and a Chianti for the second half. Carelessness meant I didn't take a note of the names, the Sancere was a revelation, gorgeously fruity and rounded; the Chianti was serviceable, but not as good IMHO.The restaurant is attractively modern restoration of the old blacksmiths and the web page gives a fair representation of what to expect. We were shown to our table and the fun commenced.Round 1 - The Lakeland Slate of AmusementsThis was a slate with 2 little shot glasses and a tiny pot. The first glass had Butternut Squash and Cumin soup, the second had a Pea Curry with a tiny strip of poppadom and the pot had a tomato couscous with a lid formed of black olive jelly. The squash and cumin soup was a delicate combination not one I'd tried before, but one I will in the future. The pea curry again was a light flavour and contrasted well with the stronger couscous and jelly. We were off to a flying start.Round 2 - Perilla & Parmesan French Fries, Tomato & Acidic LemongrassAll chips should be made this way by law. There were just two of these creations and two small blobs of sauce, one of tomato and one based on the lemongrass and we stared at each other, both wondering where we could hide the other's body after the necessary murder required to acquire the other's helping. Perilla is, apparently, an Oriental herb, with flavours of cumin, cinnamon, citrus, basil and anise, and is listed in The Oxford Companion To Food as Shiso (if that's any help it certainly wasn?t to me.).Round 3 - Flaky Crab, Wild Indigo Noodles with No Flour, Vanilla & OscietraMaybe they were right out of Wild Indigo, but no noodles at all appeared with this selection, in its place was a quenelle of potato (the least interesting part of the evening for me). The crab was a square section under some sort of crunchy lid which was slightly sweet and very good. The third component was (for me the most interesting combination of the night) vanilla flavoured mascarpone topped with caviare ? just tremendous. Accompanying were streaks of apple and chilli sauces.Round 4 - Cubism in Foie Gras, one hot, two cold, liquorice, Sichuan syrupFoie Gras in three formats: a plain pyramid on some sort tiny round vegetable - yum; hot in a crispy batter - yummer; and as an ice cream (!) served on a disk of pickled onion flavoured jelly, staggeringly good - yummiest. It was swiftly becoming evident that we were in the hands of a master, and instead of viewing the menu nervously for the next course, we abandoned ourselves to his vision (pure Pseuds Corner but true).Round 5 - Quail Caramelised with Tamarind, Blackcurrant and Darjeeling.This was my partner's least favourite course but then she's not that keen on game of any kind. The quail were a little chewy, but the combination with the blackcurrant sauce was brilliant, these were served with a disk of Darjeeling jelly.Round 6 - Seared sea scallop, blood orange curly kale, coffee, cardamomA large, very tender scallop topped with orangey curly kale and surrounded by swirls of coffee and cardamom sauces. A triumph.Round 7 - John Dory, winter savoury aromas, sweetish pimento compote, bitter caramelJust gorgeous. A small square of fish with thyme, complemented by the square of bitter caramel sauce, with the other two morsels in close back up. On the menu, I've just written stunning and underlined it.Round 8 - Roasted sea bass, ice cube with sea flavours, roasted chicory, hydromelDelicious sea bass, topped as stated with a savoury ice cube. The chicory was superfluous in my view, but the strange circular lime flavoured assembly at the other end of the plate was superb.Round 9 - Main CourseThere were two choices for main course - beef or venison, we both chose the beef, but I wish now that we had sampled both so that we could have tried them both. SoMr Little's beef fillet, tubed oysters, passion fruit ravioli and fennel-truffle sauce.Cooked to our specification (very rare for me less so for her), the beef was winningly tender. The sauce came in corked test tubes and was applied at the table. The ravioli was filled with a passion fruit puree and was a novel way of delivering a fruity side sauce, The oysters were a sort of mousse held together in a vertical cylinder by some sort of sheath - vegetable or pasta - I know not. It was also accompanied by rather tasteless hazelnut dumplings, but overall was a lovely combination of flavours.So now, onto desserts.Round 10 - Celestial potion, lemon effervescentA shot glass of liquid with tones of strawberry, vanilla and rosehips served with a little pill on a spoon. The pill was lemon flavoured and when tipped into the liquid, fizzed and foamed. Quite delightful.Round 11 - Iced green apple, molasses milk shake, pine nut tart, rosebud mousse granulesMy partner's least favourite item - the milk shake was here, and I have to concur that I didn't enjoy the molasses flavour very much. The green apple ice cream though was tart and tasty. The pine nut tart hot but not very flavoursome, though the granules were great, the cold particles of mousse were like a very smooth sorbet and the single spoonful was just enoughRound 12 - Hot chocolate mousse, eucalyptus foam, smoked paprika ice-cream, stem gingerAfter a couple of desserts that we didn't think were quite as good as the starters, we come in for a strong finish. In a piece of table theatre, the chocolate sauce for the hot mousse is delivered in a syringe and injected into the intensely chocolatey heart of the mousse. The smoked paprika ice cream was surprisingly good, I'm not sure if I could eat a big tub of it or that Ben & Jerry are likely to take it up soon, but as a foil to the sweetness of the chocolate mousse it was great. Also supplied was a disk of jelly intensely flavoured with ginger. Fabulous.We finished with coffee and some completely superfluous petit fours though my memory of them is a little hazy.The meal took the best part of four hours to consume, and at Â£75 per person was one of the most expensive that we have ever eaten. So, was it worth it? An unequivocal Yes! Nearly every part of the vast array was delicious and surprising. The venue was comfortable, the staff friendly, helpful and efficient without being overbearing in any way. I heard a fellow guest, who had been to El Bulli, talking to waiter and drawing comparisons. One of the table staff had come down from Sharrow Bay for the night - hopefully to learn something, if my meal there last year was anything to go by.We spent a pleasant night and enjoyed a (rather more traditional, but no less well prepared) breakfast before setting off back to face a family Christmas, restored and invigorated. This is definitely in the top 3 meals I have ever eaten if not possibly the best put down your computers and book up now. I heard them say that they were fully booked at weekends until late March already, and you really don?t want to wait that long - do you?"
- Travel date: 28th December 2003