The village of Grasmere sits slap bang in the heart of the Lake District. A beautiful little place to stay with a 360 degree view of stunning Green mountain scenery all around. Grasmere is very much a tourist destination and when the sun shines the visitors are guaranteed to flock to Grasmere for the walking , biking or cake eating ( Grasmere Gingerbread ). The immediate area is also very rapidly becoming a destination location for the travelling food lover. High end cooking has really taken off here now , we`re so blessed to have The Forest side , The Samling , The old Stamp house and Lake road kitchen all within 5 minutes drive from Grasmere. The Oak Bank hotel has been part of the food scene for a number of years now but outside of the area not many have heard of the place. Masterchef Professionals finalist Darren Comish brought Oak Bank into the public eye followed shortly after by a fantastic review in the Guardian by food writer Jay Rayner. Shortly afterwards Darren left for Holbeck Ghyll and the search was on for a high standard replacement.
After a couple of months young Chef Gary McDermott came on the radar and was promptly whisked over from the North East of England to begin work at Oak Bank. Gary had previously worked in the kitchens of The Yorke Arms and Rockliffe Hall so had a decent grounding to take up the reins of Head Chef at Oak Bank and to make a name for himself here with the golden opportunity to develop his own dishes and menus with his own unique stamp upon them.
I was invited over by the management to sample some of Gary`s cooking. He had only been in his new role for 3 weeks and was busy communicating with local suppliers and getting familiar with his new surroundings and local area. If Gary is producing dishes like this in a kitchen of “2 chefs” then I have high hopes for the future at Oak Bank. The food was cooked very accurately , all fresh and well balanced. It wasn`t without fault but they were simple and easily rectified tweaks to make. I noted that chef played very safe and even though he was situated in a paradise of wild food surrounding Grasmere he`s decided to find his feet and stick to good basics before opening up the menu to the more adventurous produce that the local woods and hedgerows have to offer.
I`ll take you through the menu that I sampled for my Sunday lunch , see for yourselves that Oak bank is definitely worth a visit and offer support to an extremely keen young chef who is hopefully going to stamp his mark on Cumbrian cuisine and get Oak Bank up into the small group of foodie destinations in the Lake District. Gary McDermott…..Over to you sir –
Little pots containing a Sweetcorn Panna Cotta , Crispy Chicken and Smoked Salmon Mousse.
Oak Bank Bread and Butter selection.
Carpaccio of Beef , Beef Tartare , Beetroot , Horseradish and Oyster leaves. – Beef , Beetroot and Horseradish just work so well together , lovely dish.
Rabbit pressing with Carrot textures and Ginger. Stunning presentation and a delight to the eye. All of the Textures were correct here but overall the dish needed a little tweaking just to add more acidity and flavour contrast
Bouillabaisse of Lobster Bisque , Scallop , Salmon , Crab , Turbot and Saffron – Total winner and dish of the day. Absolutely on the ball with this plate of luxury ingredients. If I were to be given this dish in a 3 star restaurant then I would be more than happy.
Beef Sirloin , Jacobs Ladder , Pommes Anna , Lyonnaise Onions , Cauliflower and Heritage Carrots.
Sea trout with smoked Potato gnocchi , Tempura Mussels , Crispy Squid , Spinach and Parmesan.
Lamb Loin and Shoulder with Jersey royals , smoked aubergine, Courgette and Apricot.
Trio of Pork – Fillet , Crispy Cheeks and Belly with Apple and Cider reduction and Granola.
Pineapple , Pineapple cake , Pineapple and Chilli salsa , White Chocolate Panna Cotta , White Chocolate Ice cream. When it comes to desserts then this is my thing….I love them. With 4 desserts to eat then this may pose a problem to some diners but certainly not me. Out of the 4 desserts I had to rate this one as my favourite , everything about it worked so well.
Chocolate Pave , Milk Chocolate Mousse , Orange Panna Cotta. Nice dessert but i`m beginning to get full.
Cherry Parfait , Sour Cherries , Honeycomb ice cream. Beautiful Honey comb ice cream and the Cherry parfait carried lots of flavour. The Parfait topping didn’t work as it was far too sticky and would have been a lot better as a fresh Cherry compote.
At the time of writing , a full internal refurbishment was about to take place inside the restaurant.
To view more photos from Oak bank then please CLICK HERE.