This was my second visit to dine at The Forest side in Grasmere. This time I had just married my sweetheart a day earlier and so we decided to make it into something special and booked in for an overnight package. That way meant that we could also drink and experience the drinks flight with our 13 course “Grand Un” Tasting menu ( £75).
EVERYTHING has moved onwards and upwards since my last visit and this huge and very ambitious country house hotel / garden project has moved rapidly up the ladder in leaps and bounds. The Kitchen garden is producing already . The Greenhouses are chocca bloc with micro plants and the 4 full time Gardeners / Foragers are working 7 days a week to meet demand. Chef Kevin Tickle leads the kitchen team as head chef , he needs no introduction , he`s worth his weight in Gold. Cal Byerley creates the desserts like a Wizard. Restaurant manager Gareth Newton fronts the restaurant as Manager , a great guy who looks after the customers well. All in all I think they`ve nailed it within such a short time. The food is awesome and the awards have started coming in already. The team just have to be consistent now and carefully tweak here and there moving on upwards. All I can say is to go and try it out…..What a treat.
A little tipple in the room before dinner
I`ll shut up now and let the food do the talking for me…..Here`s the Forest side “Grand un” that we ate. For those not so hungry then there`s the L`al Un (8 courses for £60) or The Reet L`al un ( a la carte 3 courses for £50) .There`s a set lunch also which I think is around the £30 mark.
Little Critter Fritter – The guy serving this one up wanted me to attempt to work out what it was as no one had guessed correctly so far. Simple….. Grey Squirrel , I got it without hesitation and it was gorgeous.
More nibbles before the meal
New Season Broad Beans , Poached Yolk and Ox Tongue – Just a little dish of total freshness.
Heritage Tomatoes cooked in Elderflower with Goats Curd and Caviar – A very simple dish with stunning effect. Constructed using limited ingredients but the flavours of the prime produce proved that it needed very little done to it.
Forest Side Bread , a mixture of White and spelt flours. How amazing is that Butter ? Garden Herbs and Nasturtiums…Stunning.
Forest Gin from Macclesfield…..Was pretty lethal stuff. Served up with Sea buckthorn jelly.
Venison Pastrami , Smoked Juniper Yoghurt , Mooli , Corra Linn ( British Sheeps milk Cheese ) , Pickled Allium ( wild garlic ) Flowers. – This one has been on since the restaurant opened , works very well.
West coast Langoustine , Cucumber , “Our Guanciale” ( cured pork cheek ) , Conifer Honey.
Courgette Scorched over Embers , Mint and Pumpernickel – Oh how I adore the flavour of smoke and fire on my food , it`s definitely my favourite flavour. The Courgette had been cooked in its skin amongst the Coals of a fire and went perfectly with the emulsified sauce flavoured with coal oil. My favourite dish on the menu.
Line caught Halibut , Dittander , Charred Lettuce , Razor Clams – Once again , simple and natural flavours of accurately cooked ingredients that all worked well together.
The Development course – #Development #Couldquitepossiblybeterrible. – I like the way that Kev described this one , it made me smile. Ok , no problem i`ll be chefs Guinea Pig any day of the week. Apparently the team are thinking of introducing a development dish on to the menu as a regular item. It will evolve as the days go by .They`ll get constant feedback from the customer and it`ll hopefully end up as a refined and potentially perfect plate of food. On this occasion I experienced a concoction that Chef Tickle puts together when he`s out Fishing. If he`s eating this whilst Fishing then I definitely want to get my rod out and head off with him. It was a simple stand out dish and if it could be perfected in any way then I don`t know how. Basically this recipe consisted of a pan of sautéed wild Mushrooms , baby Chanterelles and some kind of wild herb which were put into a bowl containing the tiniest pickled crunchy Onions. A rich dark Mushroom stock was poured into the bowl and that was that… Beautiful.
Dry aged Middle White Pork ( 75 days ) Mugwort , Artichoke , Daisies. – I`ll be totally honest here , it was the best Pork that i`ve ever tasted. Full of flavour , meltingly tender and cut like Butter. The Pork had been aged for 75 days so that explains where the quality comes from. A great plate of food and for my palate , maybe a little tweaking required with the addition of Texture and sweetness would have taken it to another height. A small piece of `Chicharron` , Pork skin and a `blob` of sweetness and I would have been in heaven. …it was still very WOW though.
Ewes Milk , Logan Berry , Verbena – A small palate cleanser assisted by a little liquid Nitrogen.
Strawberry , Acidic Yoghurt , Marigold – This was a new one for me and consisted of a Strawberry mousse rolled into a snowball with a coating of powdered Yoghurt. Best dessert of the menu.
Gooseberry , Buttermilk , Sweet Cicely.
Barman Brunos perfectly organised set up.
Douglas fir Turkish delight , Meadowsweet Pebbles – Finally to finish in the lounge we had these sweet treats `with a difference`. The cold Turkish delight , served straight from the fridge and with a delicate flavouring of pine trees should never be taken off the menu. It`s refreshing and it works so well. The little stones were filled with a Meadowsweet ice cream ,a trade secret obviously but it made everyone smile and capped a perfect dinner off wonderfully well.
So all in all – Forest side is rapidly becoming very established and extremely popular within the few months that it has been open. Everything is running well, the restaurant was fully booked and service was almost faultless. I can`t stress enough to experience the drinks flight with the meal as it`s so quirky and totally unique. I`m sure that many places will catch on to this and change their wine flights to drinks flights very quickly. Cucumber Soda , white wines , red wines , Beer , Gin and tonic , Cocktails , and Sake were all part of the 10 drink flight for £55. As for the food , well I believe that the kitchen team are running very well under head chef Kev Tickle. I`m certain that a Michelin star will follow shortly and probably even another a short way down the line….that`s my wishful thinking. Anyway , go and see for yourself and i`m sure you`ll agree.
TO VIEW THE FULL SET OF PHOTOS FROM FOREST SIDE THEN PLEASE JUST CLICK HERE.
Right then , you`ve eaten the food and stayed overnight so what`s for Breakfast ?….Here`s a sneak preview.
The full Cumbrian
Before we left for home we just couldn’t resist a wee peek through the gardens. Four gardeners /foragers are employed here to keep Forest side in prime seasonal produce.