I wouldn`t mind betting that virtually none of you have ever heard of Castle Dairy in Kendal , Cumbria`s South Lakes. I keep on repeating myself on here and so i`ll say it once again – “Yet another hidden Lake district gem appears on my radar” . Really good restaurants are popping up all over my region , so many that I really can`t keep up.
On a good week I can get up to 5 thousand visitors to my Cumbriafoodie blog. Most of that traffic comes from Australia , USA and Asia so it really doesn`t make a lot of sense to report on my meals at little Cumbrian restaurants . I decided that I would go forward this year only putting photos of the higher end mainstream restaurants on to my blog but after eating at these new discoveries within my own area I really can`t resist showing the world exactly what Cumbria has to offer you all. We got our “World Heritage site” award in 2017 so the English Lake district is now one of those elite places to visit on the planet. Great news for both the Cumbrian economy and the tourism industry. Our Hotels and restaurants should hopefully see a good boost in bookings in 2018 so it`s super news all around.
Castle Dairy is linked to Kendal catering college and I had it in my head that the restaurant would be full of nervous young hospitality students learning their trade. I was 100% wrong as the restaurant picks out only a couple of the elite students to work front of house and in the kitchens with fully experienced member of staff.
Anyways , straight to the food and our 12 course Tasting / Prestige Menu, great value at £60 with a matched Wine pairing at £45. There`s a 5 course lunch option for £30 or a 3 course ALC for £40 available also. Chef Chris o Callaghan runs the business and has a background in the kitchens of Linthwaite House in Windermere , L`Ortolan in Reading and Gravetye Manor in Sussex. No complaints there then.
Service was really friendly and the staff were well briefed on the food. It was amusing to see the couple on the next table to us looking totally confused when they received our 2 glasses of Malbec in error. We said nothing and kept quiet until 2 more arrived with a nice smile from a slightly nervous young waiter and a hearty “cheers” from the couple on the next table.
On with dinner –
Castle Dairy snacks.
We started the meal with Bread (which I never got a photo of) – Home made Ciabatta with Herb Butter. As good as Ciabatta can get… anywhere.
Confit Chicken Wing , Salt baked Celeriac , Prune and Pecan.
Beef Tartare , Parsley , Blue Cheese.
Halibut , Horseradish and Miso.
Cumbrian Ham and Brioche Pie , Artichoke. – This one was a bit out of place on a Prestige tasting menu. I would have killed for it for my lunch at work any day of the week (would be amazing with Pickles , Chutney and Cheese) but it didn`t have its place on a fine dining menu. I`m sure it can be refined and a sauce included to take it up a level to be part of a lunch menu.
Pan fried Cod , Chervil Root , Hazelnuts and Raisins.
Roasted Pheasant , Parsnips , Caramelised Garlic and Mustard – A beautifully cooked and faultless course which fitted into a Lake district Winter menu perfectly.
Blood Orange Posset , Lemon Thyme syrup , Grasmere Gingerbread.
Walnut Sponge , Poached Quince , Caramelised Honey , Goats Milk.
Kendal Mint cake Slate , Salted Chocolate , Cocoa snap.
Coffee and Treats – Mango/Coconut and Cola Bears – Sweet treats with a difference , novelty and fun to eat.
All in all we had a really nice experience at Castle dairy. We were offered a stunning Chefs table in the kitchen but chose to dine in the restaurant in more relaxed and romantic surroundings. For anyone heading up the M6 motorway , Kendal would make a perfect stopover and a fantastic opportunity to experience one of those secret tucked away places that no one knows about.
Would I return ? – Absolutely I`ll be back in the Spring / summer when fresh produce is blooming.
TO VISIT THE CASTLE DAIRY WEBSITE – PLEASE CLICK HERE
TO VIEW A FULL SET OF PHOTOS ON FLICKR – PLEASE CLICK HERE