[Cartmel, Cumbria] Rogan & Co.
Our first stop on a camping trip to Scotland, so my memory of it is least solid.
(We decided against L'Enclume because we didn't think we'd be able to roll ourselves back to our tent after the tasting menu.)
Great location right next to the river in pretty Cartmel. We arrived after spending the day walking, in our rain jackets and walking gear and no one batted an eye.
Starter: a fragrant wild garlic and nettle soup with Mrs Kirkhams cheese. We'd passed huge drifts of wild garlic on our walk, so this was definitely in season and easy to get locally! This was good- the cheese seemed like it would have a "squeaky" quality, were it not in soup. I liked it.
Main: I asked for veal, but they brought the wrong dish. Promptly fixed, with Himself's plate taken away and a fresh one brought out with my veal. I expected the veal to be tenderer and softer, but I can't really complain- this was cooked perfectly.
Dessert: Strawberry soup. This *smelled* like the best strawberries you've ever tasted. But it tasted like "strawberry flavour", rather than strawberries. Weird, and didn't work for me.
(Himself has totally forgotten what he had. I remember he had the cheese course, which seemed like a huge amount of cheese.)
Had a chat with one of the waiters at the end of the meal. He asked whether we were going to eat at L'Enclume as well. Apparently, a huge number of people do both, taking advantage of their offer of rooms + meals at a set price.
Visit number two to Rogan's mid level restaurant. I'd say this time it was 7 for food (9 last) and 8 for service (5 last!) The latter being solved by the replacement of the pink, stressy Maitre d' with the charming and unruffled female FOH, and the fact we'd waited 40 minutes before ordering, whereas this time we had nibbles within 15...But food was surprisingly hit and miss.
Amuses included fish crackers with a pea and lovage mousse (yum) and radishes with an apple marigold emulsion and barley puffs (decorated with what looked very much like micro cannabis leaves!) Two choices of warm bread rolls.
Starters proper were mackerel in coal oil with watercress, kholrabi and an oyster emulsion. Pretty and delicate, the mackerel just wasn't very mackerel-y, and it was over salted. And then venison carpaccio with beetroot (gel and crisps), walnut and wood sorrel. This was over peppered.
My main was wonderful. Middlewhite pork belly with cockles, celeriac and coastal greens, all in a lick-the-plate thick jus. Himself had crab baked hake with chard - a bit dry, and one note.
Pre-dessert was an apple, chestnut and burr nut ice cream (nice enough) and then I had roast pineapple with shiso and gingerbread (lovely) and himself a nicely stored selection of cheese (Kidderton Ash goat/Wigmore/Tunworth/Wensleydale/blue).
Happy we went, but it wasn't the OMG this is AMAZING value experience we'd had before (though I did enjoy sitting by the pass - they're so serene!) I missed the smoked haddock scotch egg amuse, and maybe also Rogan's guiding eye?