Back once again to eat at a great Cumbrian culinary institution. Sharrow Bay country house hotel on the banks of Ullswater sits in the heart of our wonderful Lake district.Time stops still at Sharrow , it always has and with only an extremely narrow lane accessing the hotel , the silence and peace are totally golden here. The Hotel is now under new management and moves have been underway for a good few months to convert and recapture the Sharrow of old….The Francis and Brian years. The antiques and the artwork have now returned and the hotel looks and smells almost exactly as it did during my first visit 30 years ago. OMG , how time flies…scary stuff.
Now I love the modern style / foraged and innovative approach to cooking but deep down my heart is firmly set in the old school days of Roux , Ladenis , Blanc and Koffmann. Quality basic cooking skills , stocks and sauces made from bones and shells and the liberal use of Butter and Cream in a restaurants cuisine. I know times have moved on but old school fine dining flows through my veins. This is the food that Sharrow bay is all about and times have changed very little in the kitchens here. Chef Mark Teasdale has made a few minor tweaks to the cuisine of Sharrow but at the end of the day the customer base visits here for just that. A journey back in time and to eat classic English country house food. I`m no spring Chicken but I was definitely the youngest guy in the busy restaurant during the evening. So for those visiting Sharrow for the food experience don`t expect ground breaking gastronomy. It is what it is and basically the food is almost identical to what it was 30 years ago. Minor tweaks have been made here and there but you`ll get nothing foraged and definitely no modern cooking techniques or styling. What you will get is well sourced prime local produce that has been approached with attention and care and perfectly cooked using classic skilled cooking methods. I don`t feel that a Michelin star will return anytime soon but with a few tweaks here and there then Sharrow definitely does have the potential to reclaim its one star from the past.
We opted for the Tasting menu which would give us the chance to see how the food had progressed over the years. This consisted of 9 courses of classic Sharrow cooking for £95
Appetisers in the Lounge.
Classic Onion Soup.
West Coast Scallops – Oriental vegetables , Thai Curry , Red Pepper and Sesame Salsa.
Seared Duck Foie Gras , Port roasted Figs , Buttered Spinach , Port and Fig reduction.
Turbot – Buttered Lobster , Scottish Girolles , Samphire , Scallop Veloute.
Herdwick Lamb , Herb crusted Cannon , Aubergine , Sable Potatoes , Tomato and Rosemary.
Pistachio Panna Cotta , Raspberry , Rosewater , Meringue , Dark Chocolate.
Damson Souffle , Damson ripple ice cream.
Selection of British Cheeses.
So basically if anyone is wanting a bit of peace and quiet , a few hours break away from the kids with some of the best views in the Lake district then my recommendation is that you head over to Sharrow Bay for lunch. You`ll go a long way to find a better deal than their current “Sharrow through the ages” lunch menu (see here) at £20.50. Another good deal is their classic Afternoon tea ( you`ll need a doggy bag ) for £25 pp and once you experience the ambience of this old country house then I can guarantee that you`ll return for more. There`s always the option of just popping in to pick up a jar of Marmalade but make sure you bring £700. ( for the record that is not a typo ) …………. Oiiiiiiiii……. Hands off , Marmalade thief.
Seriously though it`s all for a good cause and went to auction along with “pay to taste” at the Dalemain Marmalade festival. The jar alone is £200 of hand made crystal glass. I done a few promo shots for Sharrow Bay and got to have a few sneaky tastes of it. I have to say its the best tasting Marmalade on the planet. So if anyone wants to splash out then just contact the hotel.
Note – No mention of Sticky Toffee Pudding has been made in this review.
Sharrow through the ages menu – £20.50
3 course (with extras ) Gourmet dinner a la carte – £65
9 course Tasting menu – £95
Sunday lunch – £45
Afternoon tea – £25
Sharrow still has the same photos in the Gents from all those years ago…. Classic times and happy days.