Restaurant reviews

L’enclume: Is it really worth the long trip into the Lakes?

When a restaurant becomes vogue and has critics swooning over it en masse, you can’t help but wonder if the reality will live up to the hype. Our trip to L’enclume last summer saw us undertake the rather long and slow journey from Leeds to the beautiful Cartmel, where the challenge of getting parked and then actually finding the entrance to the restaurant provided a stressful start to our lunch, which we hoped would clear up the answer as to whether the restaurant is really all it’s cracked up to be.

Clearly there have been many, many, many write-ups about the food and the menu in this Lake District haunt, so rather than offering a blow-by-blow look at the menu itself (which changes with the seasons), we’ll look to address the question as to whether L’Enclume is worth the journey, and whether the experience sticks long in the mind.

First of all, let us say that the actual connection to the local area makes the restaurant quite special; they work with local farmers to make sure they offer excellent local food but they don’t just go local for the sake of it; they do it because it is part of the experience. This local feel and respect for where the food comes from helps to make the restaurant feel very impressive, even though it has to be slightly creative in its use of space for tables.

What we wanted to know though was if the experience of L’Enclume would match that of other restaurants where we had enjoyed Michelin-starred meals, such as at one of the very best restaurants in the world, The Test Kitchen in Cape Town, which offered incredible food but also had a feel and lasting memory about it that elevated them from simply being a great place to eat.

The answer to this is definitive: L’Enclume goes beyond just great food. It is an experience that is well worth the drive and parking stress to enjoy. With little touches like a small bottle of vinegar to take away that had been made at the restaurant, to the fact that the service is impeccable, this is a place to go to enjoy and not just to gorge as you wind your way through either the lunch or dinner tasting menus.

The food allows you to experience new flavours and pairings that you didn’t know worked, all while enjoying the experience of the restaurant and its surroundings. There is also flexibility if you happen not to like one of the ingredients scattered throughout the menu; the staff will do everything possible to accommodate your requests, even if you’re shy about making them!

For this reason, if you are thinking of a place to really experience the best in British food and not just eat the British food, L’Enclume is the place to do it, especially since you can pop into Cartmel afterwards to pick up a sneaky Cartmel sticky toffee pudding to take home for the freezer!

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