The picturesque and sleepy little Georgian fishing port of Whitehaven nestles cosily against the western fringes of the English Lake district national park on the Cumbrian coastline…. Hey , i would definitely get a job with the tourist board wouldn`t i ? Ok….ok….so it`s an ex mining town , an historical slave trading port and has strong association with the Rum trade and smugglers from years gone by. It also has a small number of fishing boats and the other reason that Whitehaven made the headlines recently is best put out of our minds…google it. I can`t grumble about living where i live , ive grown up in the area, have lots of lovely memories and wherever i go in the world i`m always happy to return to the town again. Fair enough , like every other town in the country we have our fair share of local Nutters and characters ( myself included ) but this is all part of life here.I mean…where else would you find The worlds “Biggest Liar ” competition , The worlds “Ugliest face pulling ” competition or The world “Pipe smoking” championships and then loads of hillside and green field events involving ” grown men and frightened sheep” ….told you , we`re nuts….but in a nice kinda way.
So on to the food then – Well you would normally expect a harbour town to be totally heaving with fishing boats , wet fish shops and little stalls selling `fruits of the sea` related produce on the street… Ermmmmm….. NO , that side of the industry has been virtually non existent for years , such a shame as i remember it so well as a child. Recently, however with the national food revival being thrown at us from all directions Whitehaven has suddenly had a spark to relight the fire again. We have an amazing fish supplier who opened up last year , Donnan seafoods who supply the most wonderful prime fish from our coastline to the local businesses. Turbot , Brill , Halibut , Seabass , Crabs, Lobster and huge sweet Scallops from the Irish sea. As a result of constant supply and demand with very attractive prices we now have the local restaurants and pubs all starting to offer fresh fish and seafood dishes on their menus again….it`s magical and a breath of fresh air for our local food scene. I`d love to think it`s the start of better things to come for the local restaurant scene but i do tend to daydream quite a lot.
One restaurant in particular , The Waterfront in Whitehaven has been up and running with Chef Simon Haslam ( Lyzzick hall , Morrells , Armathwaite hall ) for just over a year now. Specialising in showcasing Cumbrian Seafood and produce it`s already gaining a very loyal following with the locals and also managing to draw in destination foodies from around the North of the region. As many of you know , i work down at the Sellafield Nuclear facility along with 10,000 other Cumbrians and once the word is out on anything it tends to spread like wildfire around the site within no time at all. So currently the `word on the site` is … “you must try the Waterfront” and so bookings are taking off . I was actually there for a quick supper on a Monday night a few weeks ago and every seat was taken by excited diners, which in this current economic climate is one hell of a result for the Waterfront team. I was also there last week on the opening day of Taste Cumbria food festival and on this occasion Chef was launching his new “Taste of Cumbria” menu . I had to be there to feast on the `best of the best ` of local produce from around the Cumbria region.
Plate of Cumbrian Meats and Cheeses.
Confit Chicken and Ham Hock Terrine, Artichoke Puree, Pickled Mushrooms, Walnuts, Piccalilli Sauce
Fillet of Solway Sea Bass , West coast Langoustine, Confit Fennel, Sautéed Samphire, Fish Crackling and Smoked Mussel Cream
Roast Rack of Cumbrian Herdwick Lamb, with Confit Lamb Shoulder Fritters, Miso Aubergine, Caramelised Cauliflower, Broad Bean and Mint.
Pan fried fillet of Cumbrian Turbot , Seared King Scallops , Solway brown shrimps in spiced butter.
Damson sorbet with home made Damson Gin.
Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream
Cumbrian Treacle Tart with Lemon sorbet
Wines at the Waterfront are all served by Adrian Romera ( ex Lenclume , Champignon Sauvage ) and paired up perfectly with the food . My best advice would be to let Adrian do his thing and go by the glass per course..3 courses , 3 different wines. I can guarantee some beautiful combinations.
Service is attentive and the staff are well briefed on the origins of the food. …Oh and a tip guys , don`t take the bread away after the starters , there`s some amazing flavours to mop up when the mains are finished. As for the negatives …..Erm….I`m struggling here…Scallops are always on the menu…there`s plenty of fresh seafood….Local ingredients are showcased constantly…staff are always smiling….I`m still struggling….Ok I`ll just stick with the bread whinge.
Consistency at every service , Quality fresh and local produce and daily “straight off the boats” specials in my opinion are key to success here.For those who haven`t tried it yet…Get your backsides over there , support the locals and simply see for yourselves. If you love fresh seafood then you`re on to a winner.
Simon plating up the Turbot – ( Note our huge Solway Scallops)