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patrick

The Samling, Winderemere, Cumbria

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Set a few hundred feet above Lake Windermere with fantastic views down the lake, The Samling is a small, classy 11 bedroom hotel operated by the owners of Seaham Hall, Northumberland.

We arrived for a Sunday lunch during a recent bank holiday weekend and were offered a Sunday lunch menu which comprised of 3 choices at each course taken from the evening a'la carte menu.

There are two dining rooms and we were shown to the smaller room of just 4 tables. There wasn't an obvious lack of atmosphere, and room was tastefully decorated in a modern style.

As for the food we served the following:

Amuse

Asparagus veloute - served in a demi tasse, this could have been another boring cup of soup, but actually peefectly showcased seasonal produce. The soup was luscious green, very well seasoned and had a great depth of flavour.

Starter

Mosaic of red mullet, lobster, salmon and saffron - After a large meal the night before (Gilpin Lodge), we opted for a light starter and this is exactly what we got. The mosaic was packed full of fresh seafood set in a saffron scented jelly but was extremely delicate and subtle. The mosaic was finished with red pepper compote and red pepper oil.

Main

Roast hake with crab lasagne, white asparagus and celeriac puree - A pan-roasted fillet of hake with lovely crisp skin, accompained by an exquisite crab lasagne and al dente white asparagus. It was refreshing to eat a dish where everything gelled together and there were no unecessary ingredients making an appearance. Presentation was first rate as well.

Pre-dessert

Cranberries poached in Vodka with their sorbet - A very unusual but successful pre-dessert. I've never been offered anything like it before and it served the purpose of being both unique and palate refreshing before dessert.

Dessert

Blood orange mousse, jelly and sorbet - This displayed the light delicate touch again but didnt quite reach the heights of the previous courses. However, it was nice way to sample blood oranges at the end of their season.

We finished the meal with petit fours including a zesty lemon meringue tart, chocolate covered walnuts and blackcurrant jelly.

With a bottle of Hawkes Bay Gewurztraminer, the bill for two came to £110. Overall, i would thoroughly reccommend The Samling, particularly as a venue to experience an outstanding yet peaceful meal during the normal Lake District activities or as an ideal weekend retreat. I'll be planning the latter on my experience at The Samling.


Taste is everything

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Interesting notes, Patrick. I confess to being slightly prejudiced against the Maxfield Group as I feel their pricing is a little severe for restaurants in the North East. The Fisherman's Lodge in Newcastle was a great favourite of mine under the previous owners, but under Maxfield 3 courses at dinner will now cost £50. To me that is almost michelin starred London pricing.

I've no complaints about the quality of food that I have eaten there and obviously The Samling must have delivered food-wise. Trying to guess the price of your wine, I assume the Sunday lunch excluding drinks was £35 - £40 a head maybe? It's interesting to note that the set lunch at Petrus and GR's operations at Claridges and The Connaught is £30. Then again, from experience I know that "fine dining" is often more expensive in the provinces than in London.

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Interesting notes, Patrick.  I confess to being slightly prejudiced against the Maxfield Group as I feel their pricing is a little severe for restaurants in the North East.  The Fisherman's Lodge in Newcastle was a great favourite of mine under the previous owners, but under Maxfield 3 courses at dinner will now cost £50.  To me that is almost michelin starred London pricing.

I've no complaints about the quality of food that I have eaten there and obviously The Samling must have delivered food-wise.  Trying to guess the price of your wine, I assume the Sunday lunch excluding drinks was £35 - £40 a head maybe?  It's interesting to note that the set lunch at Petrus and GR's operations at Claridges and The Connaught is £30.  Then again, from experience I know that "fine dining" is often more expensive in the provinces than in London.

Alan,

The lunch menu was £38 per head. Yes, you are quite correct saying the prices compare to Michelin starred London pricing. The a'la carte menus at The Samling and Gilpin Lodge were both around the £55 per head mark with the Gourmand coming in at around £60. I know there is a lot more competition in London which will keep the pricing very competitive. Fine dining can be as expensive in the provinces as in the capital, but in my experience the quality equals and often exceeds in the provincial restaurants. At the end of the day, if the quality of food and service is there, then I am prepared to pay for it. Whether this view is shared by the wider public is open to debate, and i only hope that there is enough demand for the quality provincial establishments to survive.

I've never eaten at any of Tom Maxfields north-east restaurants, although i've heard good things about Seaham Hall.


Taste is everything

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Interesting notes, Patrick.  I confess to being slightly prejudiced against the Maxfield Group as I feel their pricing is a little severe for restaurants in the North East.  The Fisherman's Lodge in Newcastle was a great favourite of mine under the previous owners, but under Maxfield 3 courses at dinner will now cost £50.  To me that is almost michelin starred London pricing.

I've no complaints about the quality of food that I have eaten there and obviously The Samling must have delivered food-wise.  Trying to guess the price of your wine, I assume the Sunday lunch excluding drinks was £35 - £40 a head maybe?  It's interesting to note that the set lunch at Petrus and GR's operations at Claridges and The Connaught is £30.  Then again, from experience I know that "fine dining" is often more expensive in the provinces than in London.

Alan,

The lunch menu was £38 per head. Yes, you are quite correct saying the prices compare to Michelin starred London pricing. The a'la carte menus at The Samling and Gilpin Lodge were both around the £55 per head mark with the Gourmand coming in at around £60. I know there is a lot more competition in London which will keep the pricing very competitive. Fine dining can be as expensive in the provinces as in the capital, but in my experience the quality equals and often exceeds in the provincial restaurants. At the end of the day, if the quality of food and service is there, then I am prepared to pay for it. Whether this view is shared by the wider public is open to debate, and i only hope that there is enough demand for the quality provincial establishments to survive.

I've never eaten at any of Tom Maxfields north-east restaurants, although i've heard good things about Seaham Hall.

hi patrick, nice to hear good report again about samling, not heard many of late, and i love the setting of the samling and the rooms.

how about your meal at gilpin lodge was that good experience?

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Ditto above, how did you find Gilpin Lodge.

I went a few years ago for a weekday lunch, it was only a few months into Chris Meredith's time there (although ironically, he got a michelin star for his previous restaurant just as he started), but as i remember it he has one at Gilpin now too.

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Ditto above, how did you find Gilpin Lodge.

I went a few years ago for a weekday lunch, it was only a few months into Chris Meredith's time there (although ironically, he got a michelin star for his previous restaurant just as he started), but as i remember it he has one at Gilpin now too.

As for Gilpin Lodge, it was an experience characterised in two halves. Firstly, the setting and location are fantastic and the hotel itself struck me as being very well appointed in its decor and style - a true country house hotel. The dining rooms, of which there are 3 dining areas, are modern, well lit and comfortable.

Only the a'la carte was presented to us and we had to ask to see the gourmand menu which struck me as odd. There were 5 or 6 choices at each course from memory and we ordered the following:

Amuse

Morteaux sausage in puff pastry - this was exactly what it said on the tin and was dull and not best suited as an amuse IMHO

Starters

Garden vegetable salad with herbs and pesto - We were expecting a plate of young seasonal local veg and were somewhat suprised to find baby corn and mangetout amongst an inspiring salad.

Ballotine of foie gras with almonds, quince jelly and brioche - The foie gras had a bitter note to it and the brioche was unfortunately the worst i've ever eaten; not toasted enough, curled and pretty tasteless.

Mains

Fillet of veal with a ravioli of sweetbreads, vegetable spaghetti and madeira jus - The veal was well cooked and rested and the ravioli densely packed with plenty of flavour and texture. The vegetables served no purpose on the plate, but the jus was excellent.

Sea bass with tomato and basil coulis - I've forgotten the specifics of the dish other than the fish was top quality, but it was swimming in an excess of tomato sauce.

Dessert

Apple tart tatin - I like to eat and indeed make a very well caramelised tart tatin with plenty of colour, good texture from the apples and crispy golden pastry. This tatin offered none of these qualities and was a let down.

Cheese - A good selection of cheeses were served with their own menu. I cannot remember them now though other than to say the selection included blue's, goats, hard and creamy cheeses from the local area and France.

We drank a bottle of Chassagne Montrachet, and with coffee, the bill was £190 for two. The menu was around £55 a head.

To sum, we always enjoy visiting new places to eat, but Gilpin Lodge is not somewhere we will be rushing back to.


Taste is everything

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