Tag Archives: cumbria

Trains and Food – The Cumbrian Hoovers – Pathfinder Tours

“Not your normal restaurant, service a bit wobbly, especially by the sea!”

What could be better? A journey across some of England’s finest railway scenery on board a luxurious carriage, pulled by a brace of English Electric’s finest. The tour was called ‘The Cumbrian Hoovers’, a nod to the nick name given to these fine old machines by trainspotters of yore. Tremendous stuff.

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Photo by Liam Barnes

A gentlemen’s day to Carlisle and back via Settle and the breathtaking Cumbrian coast started on a bracing morn in Warrington. Within minutes a traditional breakfast of muesli, yoghurt and a fine, full english fry up was on the plate, deftly, sprung by ‘The Frying Scotsman’. Lashings of hot coffee served in the finest bone china completed the set.

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The trip organised by Pathfinder Tours started in Birmingham with a few pick ups along the way. The chief attraction, for rail enthusiasts was the fact that the train was lugged around behind a pair of preserved, Class 50, diesel locomotives, which just by chance were originally manufactured some fifty years earlier, at the Vulcan Foundry in my home town of Newton-le-Willows. As a fifty something myself, heritage diesel locomotives represent the similar whiff of nostalgia that my father would find with steam locomotives.

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The train soon veered off the beaten track and the ascent to Settle and the famous Ribblehead Viaduct was underway. A stop at the wonderfully preserved, Hellifield station providing a welcome leg stretch. The hordes disembarked and flooded the platforms with high tech, digital imagery equipment. The locos were seemingly highly photogenic in some of their former liveries. Indeed the surrounding countryside was littered with folk eager to see and video proceedings.

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Lunchtime saw us arrive in Carlisle. Some early scouting had daned that  The Kings Head in the centre to be a venue capable of providing suitable sustenance. A couple of Windermere pale ales quenched our thirst. For the record I hereby vouch that Carlisle has the largest block paved patio in the world. The whole town centre is covered in it!

Back on the train we set out on a different loop to venture down the stunning west Cumbrian coast. Whitehaven, Maryport, Ravenglass, Foxfield all glided past, whilst the sun covered sea stretched out to the horizon.

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By this time, our genial hosts were serving up our 5 course gourmet meal. Confit duck leg with roasted vegetable cous cous salad, to start. Baked gammon, pineapple, Cumberland sauce with new potatoes, fried courgettes and red cabbage with a ginger and garlic sauce. It was all rather wonderful. We finished with a bramley apple and damson pie with custard followed by a fine cheeseboard and coffee. A couple of nice bots of merlot and the odd ‘Spitfire’ helped it all down.

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After another photo stop in Barrow, amidst bemused onlookers, we were soon barreling through Grange Over Sands and over the famous Kent bridge at Arnside, (see image at the top of the page by Darren JB).

Soon we were back on the straight and narrow west coast main line and my arrival in Warrington beckoned. My chum Craig and I had pretty much spent eleven hours venturing around the hidden lines of Lancashire and Cumbria. A fantastic day had by all.

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If this is something you would in interested in doing, the premier class trip that we did costs around £259 each, though a standard class seat without the food costs around £75. For details of any further trips around the country please visit the website below. I’ll certainly be on the lookout for more.

http://www.Pathfindertours.co.uk
01453 835414 or 834477

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The Jumble Room – Grasmere, Cumbria

“Jumble by name, Jumble by Interior and menu! But it all turned out rather splendid in the end….”
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I’ve fancied this for years. It was featured in the Sunday Times as a top bistro type affair. I finally made it over the weekend when out schlepping round Grasmere and The Lakes with some chums from Yorkshire. The Jumble Room is set down a leafy track from the centre of arguably the prettiest village in Cumbria. It’s a tiny space that juts out from nowhere in a riot of haberdashery which festoons two large windows. Its family run by Chrissy and Andy who’ve run the place as an independent, gastronomic emporium for over 23 years. I’m sure you’ll agree a fine and enviable achievement.
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We surveyed the elegant, single page menu whilst marvelling at the eccentric interior. Platoons of intricately embroidered cushions litter the basic wooden benches, while the vibrant red walls house a flurry of hand painted caricatures of the local cattle and sheep. Comics, Indian sayings and ‘Herdy’ salt and pepper cellars complete the look. I loved it.
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The menu is short, a few starters, a few mains, a few desserts. Cuisine is from all over the place, though mainly eastern. How about Persian lamb? The Thriller from Manilla? Pinatubo Chicken? This is not a chips, steak and onion rings type of place!

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Spanish salad, the menu, decent pale ale, crab crostini

We started with a slate of kicking crab crostini, Whitby crab laced with basil, coriander and a fleck of chilli (£8.50) a bucket of plump olives with homemade bread (£3.95) and a glorious Spanish salad, marinated figs, manchego cheese with hazelnuts slicked in a red wine and balsamic dress (£7.95). The Flame loved her salad (as always!) Whilst I woilfed the spicy crabby crisps.

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Malaysian seafood curry, chicken pinatubo, persian chicken, teryaki steak

For mains I went against my normal mantra of not having a restaurant curry by having the Malaysian seafood curry (£20.00), featuring prawns like babies fists, hunks of hake and glorious lumps of salmon. A veritable feast of flavour. The spice building beautifully with each tender morsel.

The Flame swapped the lamb for chicken in the Persian dish (£23.00). It came served on hummus, roasted aubergine, butternut squash drizzled with pomegranate molasses. A riot of flavour and textures…..glorious.

The Pinatubo Chicken (£18.00) was tested out by Julie. Set with a spicy lemongrass and coconut sauce and a fragrant annatto egg fried rice and greens. I managed to sneak a bit of the rice which was laced with peanuts too. Another tremendous dish.

The fourth member of the team had some difficulty finding something from the menu, so we requested a simple steak and chips which the team duly brought together, albeit swamped in a teriyaki sauce and a flurry of stir fried veg.

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The cheeses, pavlova, gingerbread cake

We even had desserts. Me a towering pavlova, whilst many adopted the sumptuous, family recipe of rushbearing gingerbread cake and ice cream, each at £7.50. Gingered and moistened upto 11, historic. We then munched on probably the most beautifully presented, complimentary, cheese boards ever.

IMG_2174 With a couple of house bottles the whole lot cruised in at £190 for the four of us. For me it met all expectations. A wonderfully eccentric decor allied to a wonderfully eclectic menu made a thrilling experience for me. Such is the small layout it does suffer from having two doors that head straight outside to the street meaning on a cold day/eve one could suffer on certain tables from a touch of leg draught, but its all part of the fun. Its probably not for anyone with simple tastes, but as we found, don’t be afraid to ask. This wonderful team are more than happy to switch things around to accommodate.

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The whole place is quirky and fun, it even has a Slade album cover in the loos……It’s a must do from me……

The Jumble Room
Langdale Road
Grasmere
Cumbria
LA22 9SU
T 01539 435188
http://www.thejumbleroom.co.uk

L’Enclume – Cartmel, Cumbria

“Well thats one on the bucket list ticked off! Think Ill go again and again though…..”

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Finally done it. Finally absorbed the foraged and farmed nutrients of Simon Rogans’s Cumbrian bounty. His two Michelin starred restaurant L’Enclume. Took 55 years exactly to do it mind, but I did it. And it met all expectations. An astounding experience.

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After a gentle meander in the ‘Rogan L’Enclume’ shop, (where I just managed to avoid buying a stainless steel quail egg topper!), we trudged the two hundred yards or so through the torrential rain from the quaint little square of Cartmel to the stone, understated former smithy that now houses this edifice of gastronomic wonderment. Indeed the anvil (English for L’Enclume geddit?) is the only exterior nod to the great place inside. We entered for a lunch time treat starting at 1.30pm. The place was packed! We were greeted with extraordinary enthusiasm by the ecstatic front of house team. There seemed to be hundreds of them.

Once ensconced at our generous, organically shaped table we allowed the experience to wash over us. A large, cumbrian G&T to settle the nerves. And then we were off. The eight course extravaganza was underway. I now merely quote from the wax anvil (natch) sealed envelope which housed our menu and wine flight in full.

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First up a gentle start of stringy leeks, garlic and ashes, with deep fried ball of pork and eel with ham fat. We gingerly tucked in. Needn’t have worried. Glorious start. To think my food hell is beetroot. Up next a stunning puree of beetroot with pine and a quail egg underneath. Arguably the best course for me. It could have been a dessert such was the wonderful sweetness and luscious texture of the mousse. Historic.

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Next up aged veal with a touch of coal oil, radish and oxalis. A rather dainty dish this, dwarfed by the heady circumference of its earthenware dish. Next another highlight, Candisa cabbage, english wasabi and fermented mushroom. The cabbage was charred, the mushroom augmented with truffle. Sensational. I must mention the breads and butters at this stage. They appeared in various guises throughout. All warmed with pasteurised or unpasteurised butter. All utterly faultless.

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Next a saddle of lamb and turnips with sweetbreads and glazed kale. Wonderfully cooked. The kale supplied with other foraged specimens. Then the sweet bits started. First up a symphony of strawberries, malwina ones with verbana.

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Another sweet bit next, rhubarb with yoghurt a sweet cicely. We elected to sample the cheeseboard as an extra. Super local ones with an array of fancy crackers.

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As it was my birthday I got my own individual almond cake. With coffee we then plundered the kendal mint cake ice cream balls and the edible moss gel! Amazing stuff.

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The whole lot came in at £300 with tip. The lunch itself is £55 with the wine flight a further £49. We were there for nigh on four hours. A stunning experience. We left with beaming smiles on our faces. I have to say it was faultless. Everything was just so. Front of house, the ambiance, the decor, the cookery, the wine all exemplary. I just wish I could eat like this every week. Just do it people…..

L’Enclume
Cavendish Street, Cartmel
Nr Grange over Sands
Cumbria, LA11 6PZ
+44 (0) 15395 36362
http://www.lenclume.co.uk

 

No. 17 – Milnthorpe, Cumbria

“A pleasant little gem, buried in the village of Milnthorpe”

We love Arnside. It’s an hours scurry up the M6 for us. It was a fairly ‘grimmish’ Saturday but we were determined to make a day of it. Arnside isn’t exactly blessed as a gastronomic paradise. Its got a cracking chippy, The Albion pub on the front is decent enough and the Old Bakehouse next door cooks up as good a pie and a brew as anyone. But, whilst hungry for lunch on the way nothing was floating our boat.

Hang on I quipped “A friend of mine keeps banging on about somewhere in Milnthorpe with a number as its name”. The Flame accepted the terms and gave the thumbs up to proceed. Milnthorpe is a couple of miles from Arnside and on the way too. We gingerly edged through the village before stumbling upon the smartly turned out, double fronted ‘shop’ with the sign ‘No 17’ above. We parked round the back. It turns out this is the way in anyway. The front door on the street is locked up.

IMG_0266It looks very smart from the outside, very tempting. Basically No17 is described as “a contemporary style eatery with a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. Its run by Kate Cook and Chef Graeme Shuttleworth for locals and visitors alike. It boasts the use of premium local produce, complimented with fine local ales, affordable wines, champagnes and cocktails”. Its hard to disagree with any of that. As we ate at lunch it was fairly full, as it would seem lots of us had decided to turn up unannounced! Nonetheless is was still very relaxed and pleasant.

fullsizeoutput_14b7Our waitress gave us our printed ‘specials’ sheet along with a handsome, bound A5 booklet describing the rest of the offer. It makes fine reading, something for everyone, with a touch of the extra, befitting of an independent restaurant looking to pull in people from miles around.

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Lunch offered quality open sandwiches and salads, pizzas as well as some smart mains and deli boards. The Flame went for the seafood deli board (£12.50) served with Organic Bread, Chutney, Dipping Sauce & Side Salad. It was an array of fish, Smoked Salmon, Smoked Mackerel, Crayfish & Prawn Cocktail, Mini Fish & Chips and King Prawns. I dare say it could have done two as a starter but The Flame put the lot away as a main. It certainly looked the part. All the bits and pieces tasted good too. The Flame was well pleased. The Meat and Cheese board with Serrano Ham, Ham Hock, Honey Roast Ham, Cheddar & Smoked Wensleydale looked decent too.

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I went for the ‘market fish special of the day,’ Sea Bass, baby corn, sugar snap peas in a Penang Thai curry with fruity cous cous (£12.95). Again beautifully presented. The fish pan fried to perfection. For me there wasn’t quite enough curry sauce and it wasn’t spicy enough, always the danger when ordering a curry in a generic restaurant, but it tasted great and the cous cous mopped up nicely.

imageWe didn’t have dessert as we wanted to press on to Arnside. They looked good though. The table of four next to us all had burgers which looked tremendous, whilst an elderly couple had fish and chips, all done well. I’m not saying you should all head on up here but I would definitely recommend the diversion from a gentle stroll along the Cumbrian coast. I can well imagine it being a thoroughly civilised interlude on an evening, when you can sample the wines a little more and maybe the more intimate atmosphere of a darkened outdoors. Great job by Kate and Graeme, Definitely one to try again.

No17 Restaurant & Lounge,
17 Park Road,
Milnthorpe,
Cumbria LA7 7AD

www.No17parkroad.com

T 015395 64831