My travelling foodie group sadly came to a pause during the pandemic. But we are back! And this year we decided to travel to the Lake District to dine at Simon Rogan’s 3-Michelin starred restaurant, L’Enclume.
So, ready to find out what it was like to dine at L’Enclume in my bumper review? Let’s go!
Why we chose L’Enclume
For those of you who are new here, my friends and I started a tradition back in 2018 where each year we would travel overseas to dine at the World’s Best Restaurant for that year. In 2018 it was Osteria Francescana near Bologna, and in 2019 it was Mirazur in Menton, South of France.
Because the World’s 50 Best was on hold throughout the pandemic, and earlier in 2022 we still didn’t know when the next awards would take place, we decided to do a trip in our own country this year.
Seeing as Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume was the only new restaurant in the UK to be awarded 3-Michelin stars this year, we decided to choose L’Enclume as our dining destination of choice!
Making a weekend of it
Every trip we do, we make a weekend of it. It’s an excuse to explore somewhere new, and although I’ve been to the Lake District many times due to my aunt and uncle living there, I never tire of visiting that part of the country.
L’Enclume is located in the small village of Cartmel, near Grange-Over-Sands in Cumbria. The majority of our group stayed in Cartmel (I stayed at The Cavendish Arms, which is a dog-friendly pub with rooms directly next door to the restaurant), but some stayed in Grange-Over-Sands and got a taxi to/from L’Enclume.
There’s so much to do and see in the Lake District and I’m so glad we did go up for the weekend as the weather was glorious, and I even took my pup Frank with me! Sadly he wasn’t allowed to come with us to L’Enclume though as it doesn’t allow dogs, so he napped in the hotel next door after a busy day of activities while we dined at the restaurant.
L’Enclume Dress Code
There actually isn’t a dress code at L’Enclume as they believe that you should dine in clothes that you’re comfortable in. As a group we opted for smart-casual though, but you really could wear whatever you wanted.
Arriving at the restaurant
We arrived at the restaurant and because we were such a big group (twelve of us!) we were on three separate tables. We had booked months in advance, and had purposely booked three separate tables as we knew that the restaurant didn’t have any large ones.
We actually ended up being the last people to leave the restaurant, so I managed to get some photos of it empty!
The restaurant itself is beautiful. The building is an 800-year-old former blacksmiths, and feels contemporary yet cosy, with many original features and nordic style tables and chairs. The name of the restaurant is an homage to it’s history and former blacksmiths workshop, as the name L’Enclume is French for ‘Anvil’, and you’ll see the Anvil featured throughout the restaurant…
Drinks & Wine Pairing at L’Enclume
We all decided to start with an English Sparkling Wine to enjoy while we figured out the wine and drink options and took a look at our menus which were tucked inside these cute grey envelopes sealed with an Anvil…
There were different wine pairings to choose from. The Taster Wine Flight is £90, the Signature Wine Flight is £135, and then the top-end Select Wine Flight is £275.
Most of my friends chose the Signature Wine Flight, with one choosing the Select. Two of them chose the non-alcoholic pairing option, which was mostly different types of teas.
As usual I didn’t go for the wine pairing as I can’t cope with that much alcohol/wine, so I chose a bottle of my favourite Australian wine, a Cape Mentelle Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, with the view that I could take the rest of the bottle home with me. I drank less than half the bottle, so our waiter put it in a cute little gift bag for me to take home with me!
The Tasting Menu at L’Enclume
The tasting menu is hyper-seasonal, meaning it changes weekly depending on what is in season at that moment. Some dishes at L’Enclume remain on the menu for months at a time, while others change more frequently.
Tasting Menu Price at L’Enclume
The tasting menu price at L’Enclume is £250 for sixteen courses (plus various amuse bouches and extras, which take it up to 20 courses).
L’Enclume base their menu around hyper-seasonal produce grown locally on their twelve-acre farm just down the road from the restaurant. The farm grows a variety of vegetables, herbs, edible flowers and reared meat including cows, chickens and pigs.
The farm also has a young orchard which grows a variety of fruit including apples, damsons and pears. Some of the food is also foraged by the restaurant’s full-time forager.
Quite a few people in our group don’t eat beef or pork, so we requested that they just remove those dishes from all of our meals to make it easier.
When you arrive and sit down at the table you’re each handed an envelope with your menu inside it, which we thought was a really lovely touch. The staff then double checked our dietary requirements before we began…
So, are you ready to finally dive into each dish, course, and hear my thoughts? Let’s go!
Firstly, I was obsessed with the plates and cutlery and absolutely adored the fact that is nods towards the restaurant’s past as a Blacksmiths…
Our first dish was the ‘Beetroot tart, East coast lobster, Pickled rosehip, Diana radish.’ Two of us don’t eat beetroot, so we had a Gooseberry tart instead, which was absolutely incredible. This tiny tart takes seven whole days to make which is just insane, but apparently it’s because of the curing process with the tart.
The second dish arrived with the tart, and was a ‘Chilled Boltardy beetroot, Red orache and Perilla soup’ for the others, and a tomato version for those of us who don’t eat beetroot.
Third-up was the ‘Fritter of smoked eel, Lovage and fermented sweetcorn’, which was actually surprisingly okay given I don’t usually enjoy eel.
Our fourth dish was one of my favourite dishes of the whole meal – ‘Berkswell pudding caramelised in Birch sap, Stout vinegar, aged Berkswell.’ This was essentially deep-fried cheese with a mountain of grated cheese on-top and it was just out-of-this-world good. I still dream about this dish!
‘Fresh curds made from milk with Wraysholme, Smoked pike perch, Red epicure broad beans in calamint’ was the fifth dish. It was essentially a little bowl of broad beans, with the fresh curds underneath the beans. It was really tasty – it was very fresh and I enjoyed the combination of flavours.
The sixth dish was the ‘Roasted scallop with dried roe powder, Sugarsnax carrot and nasturtium’. This one was hit-or-miss with the group, some hated it, but others (including myself) loved it. The scallop was beautiful and buttery, and I enjoyed the carrots with it, but some people thought the carrots were too overpowering.
Unfortunately the seventh dish was the one I enjoyed the least. ‘Seaweed custard, kohlrabi broth, perlock oysters, our blend of caviar.’ It was essentially a combination of everything I don’t’ like: seaweed, kohlrabi, oysters, and caviar. It tasted *very* fishy.
The eighth dish, ‘Pink fir potatoes in onion ash, pickled walnut, Scottish giroles and Westcombe’, was a funny one, as we all breathed in the onion ash and starting choking and coughing haha. Once we’d managed to get past the chalky, dry onion ash though, the potatoes were delicious!
‘Aynsome offering, vegetables, herb and flowers, soft yolk, marigold salt’ was the ninth course, and has to be one of the prettiest dishes I’ve ever had. It looked like a beautiful summer garden on a plate, and tasted beautiful too.
Ok, we are now halfway through! The tenth course was ‘West Coast cod, Zaino courgettes, braised Cornish cuttlefish, Bay shrimp and verbena’, a really lovely light course perfect for the heatwave we were experiencing.
By this point I was feeling *very* full, but the next two courses were the meat courses. Even though each dish is so small, it obviously all adds up, and with six courses still to go, I wanted to pace myself a bit more. So with the eleventh dish, ‘Dry aged Herwick lamb loin from West Head farm, fermented cabbage, sauce with fennel and ramson capers’, I ate about half of it and left the rest.
I did the same with the twelfth course, ‘Summer kale leaves cooked in sheep’s butter, lamb belly, truffle, lamb broth infused with summer savory’. I wasn’t a huge fan of this one as I found the broth very heavy and rich, so I left the majority to save myself for the round of desserts coming up.
The thirteenth dish, ‘Frozen tunworth cheese, malt crumb, Champagne rhubarb, lemon yoghurt’, was more of an amuse bouche sort of dish to take us from savoury to sweet, but it just wasn’t for me. I loved the Champagne rhubarb part of the dish, but the Frozen tunworth cheese was just really odd on the palate and my tastebuds just couldn’t cope with the frozen cheese aspect.
However, finally we were at desserts and oh my goodness were they worth the wait! ‘Blackberries, muscovado sugar and sheep’s yoghurt, fragrant cream and herbs’ was another really pretty dish, and absolutely delicious. I loved every part of this dish and could have easily eaten it again!
And then, we arrived at my favourite sweet dish of the meal, and my second favourite dish of the entire meal. The dessert to celebrate L’Enclume’s 20th Anniversary – ‘Anvil Caramel mousse with our own miso, apple and spruce’. This dessert glistened and shimmered on the plate and was one of those dishes that just melted-in-your-mouth. The explosion of flavours, the combination of the caramel, miso, and apple, was just incredible.
The final course was four different desserts: ‘Pineapple sage, sack, geranium, mint stones’. Pineapple Sage (little mini ice-cream cones) and Mint Stones were both brilliant, but I didn’t really enjoy ‘Sack’ and ‘Geranium’. Geranium was a chocolate truffle full of honey, but for me the honey was quite overpowering.
Mint Stones was quite a fun dish – you’re essentially presented with a plate of stones, but only two of them are edible…so you have to try and figure out which two are edible! Top tip: squidge them with your fingers, as the two that are edible are soft!
And then finally, we enjoyed petit fours (the ‘twentieth’ course) and herbal teas. The herbal teas were made with fresh herbs in front of us from a tea trolley.
There was the option to also add a cheese course to the meal, but all of us were completely full to bursting and couldn’t fit anymore food in!
Final thoughts on dining at L’Enclume
Our experience at L’Enclume was outstanding from start to finish. From the moment we booked our tables the staff were attentive (they reached out to us for dietary requirements a couple of weeks before our reservation date), and then our entire 4-5 hour meal at L’Enclume was just mindblowingly good.
Everything was impressive; from the service, to the surroundings and decor, to the food and drinks. All of us were unanimous in agreeing that it was 100% worth the price tag, and for us it was the ultimate foodie destination in our home country for our first group meal after the pandemic lockdowns.
If you’re searching for a special, one-of-a-kind dining experience in the UK, I absolutely urge you to book at L’Enclume. I promise you won’t regret it.
Watch My Video Review of L’Enclume!