THE weather was fabulous when we arrived at the AA Four Star 1 AA Rosette Beech Hill Hotel & Spa. We dropped our bags in our room with its doors opening onto the gardens and marvelled at the unrivalled panoramic view of the Lake District’s Windermere Lake. We could not wait to explore the private beach and jetty.
The hotel has a wonderful spa offering a range of treatments and the outdoor pool allowed one to savour the view to the Cumbrian Fells beyond, perhaps with a glass of Champagne?
My colleague, Bettina and I were there to taste the delights of the set menu offered as part of the Gourmet Dining Club at the hotel’s Burlington Restaurant. The restaurant is named after the local slate.
The rich farmlands of Cumbria and surrounding regions provide abundant produce which, head chef Lukasz DeBry, makes full use of to create beautiful British-French cuisine. The hotel is actively involved with the annual Taste Cumbria Food and Drink Festival. The Burlington Restaurant has a traditional, classical feel allowing one to dine whilst admiring the vista of the lake – a view from almost every window. Saturday evenings are particularly enjoyable as guests are entertained by a jazz quartet or pianist.
The evening began with canapes: smoked mackerel crostini’s, chicken tikka and tortilla sticks, served with Louis Dornier Champagne. The flavours and textures of the tikka and mackerel were interesting, the mackerel had a lemon and mustard kick and the tortillas, fried in five spice, giving them a light spicy kick, but alas, for us, they were a little greasy.
Following the canapes, we were also offered some freshly baked bread. The butter was chilled to just the right temperature to make spreading easy (this makes a big difference to the enjoyment of the baked goodies).
The starter was dressed white crab, watermelon margarita, pineapple jelly and watercress. The crab was so fresh but the first taste of the watermelon margarita left an overpowering alcoholic explosion in the mouth. Once we had got over the feel of having just had a margarita shot the flavours and textures of the watermelon, pineapple and silky crab complimented each other really well. The dish was matched with William Hardy Chardonnay, supplied by Matthew Clarke distributors. The wine had aromas of melon and white peach, a fresh and lively palate with rich flavours of peach, lemon zest and oak spice. But, personally I was disappointed to see such a mainstream wine on the menu, although it was nice to have an insight into the way the wines match with the dishes by a representive from Matthew Clarke.
The intermediate course was wild cepe & goats cheese risotto cake tarragon ceaser matched with Nobilo sauvignon blanc. This dish had a warm comfort to it but it was a little heavy on the salt maybe due to the anchovies in the sauce? However, the cepe was crispy, not too greasy.
The iced blood orange spritzer sorbet was a lovely mouth refresher and was followed by charred fell-bred fillet steak, potato rosti, spinach girolle mushroom jus served with Portillo Malbec, Uco Valley, Mendoza, a ruby red wine with hints of plum, black berries and a touch of vanilla with sweet and round tannins and a good structure. This wine would have come to its full potential if decanted but was a great wine to cut through the medium rare steak. Sadly, Bettina and I felt this dish could have been executed better. My steak was table shakingingly tough to cut through but Bettina’s was perfectly executed. The rosti was a tad too chewy.
We thought the waiting time between courses was about right, just enough time to allow you to relax between courses and the staff were friendly and attentive.
To round-off the evening Bettina had the Tobago dark chocolate tart, clotted cream with sour cherry sauce. The tart was a little dense, although the chocolate taste was divine. I opted for the locally sourced cheese board including: Eden Valley’s Appleby Creamery smoked Hootenanny, made from pasteurised goat’s milk giving it a delicate flavour balanced with oak & apple wood smoke and the creamy, crumbly & full of flavour Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese, combined with the sweet cranberries, grapes, biscuits and apricot chutney. Both dessert options were served with Floralis Moscatel Oro Catalunya, Torres.
Overall, we really enjoyed our experience at Burlington’s. The food on the whole was good, it had glimpses of fine dining, but some of the dishes could have been executed better and the wine list more adventurous.
But the price for a five-course meal using local produce is fantastic at £39.95. And when you visit the restaurant for the first time you pay £29.95 per person. It is free to join the Diners Club.
The Beech Hill Hotel & Spa
Newby Bridge Road,
Cumbria, LA23 3LR
Tel: 0844 502 7587 (Service Charge 4p)