Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Lindeth Howe Country House Hotel, Bowness, Lake District

I decided to book Lindeth Howe for Easter weekend, as they had a great offer - £200 per night for room, breakfast and dinner. Trip advisor showed very positive reviews, particularly of the food, so I was sold.

We arrived on Friday afternoon and were quickly shown to our room – we had a great view of Windermere lake from the top of the house. Lindeth Howe used to be owned by Beatrix Potter so there were loads of references to her throughout the hotel, including pictures of the hotel as a grand family home at a time when the wealthy would visit the Lakes for their holidays.

We had dinner in the restaurant on both nights, but this is just a review of the second night. Both evenings we thought the food was excellent. You start in the lounge, where a waiter takes your drinks order, brings you the menus and some delightful canap├ęs to start the evening off. The menu contains a Table d’Hote menu for residents having dinner, along with some chef recommendations. There were also a range of other dishes that you could pay a supplement for, but this was really unnecessary as the Table d’Hote menu had sufficient options. On this night, however, we decided to “push the boat out” and go for the extra main courses (partly because A fancied a steak).

On being seated, we were brought an amuse-bouche, which on the Saturday was a mini Yorkshire pudding with roast beef.

After this, our starters were served. Both A and I had the crab fish cake starter, which was just right.  A passionfruit sorbet was then presented to "cleanse the palate". 

For my main, I had sea bass with a bouillabaisse broth. The fish was cooked perfectly with crispy skin and a light broth containing other seafood. 

 A had the fillet steak, which came with a mini steak suet pudding and mash. We ordered some vegetables as a side dish to try to compensate for all that meat!

For pudding, I ordered the old favourite of Sticky Toffee Pudding, which came with Earl Grey ice cream (not my favourite flavour of tea – a hint of washing up liquid, I always feel).

A had the same pudding on both nights – a chocolate mousse with chocolate flakes on top, which was served in what I can only describe as a mini flower-pot. But the real attraction was the peanut butter ice-cream it came with. In fact the second evening, A said he would have been happy if they had just brought him an enormous bowl of that with a big spoon!

We were offered coffee or tea but declined. Although a lot of courses, the food isn’t overwhelming because they don’t outface you with massive portions. But we were certainly full by the end of it and coffee always seems like a bad idea just before bed!

I would go as far as to say that the food on offer was of equal standard to the few Michelin star restaurants I have visited. The waiters were pleasant and service was of a high standard. In fact, the hotel in general is well worth a visit. It is set in lovely gardens, has a small indoor pool and it is great to hear the geese and ducks quacking away on the lake from an open bedroom window as you drift off to sleep. A very relaxing but also “foodie” weekend.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The White Swan, Wighill, Nr Tadcaster

I grew up in Garforth, which is on the edge of some lovely countryside with plenty of village pubs a short drive away. After I passed my driving test at 17 (after only three months of lessons – go me!) I used to drive from Ledston to Ledsham, then on to Towton and Aberford, each village having a real old-fashioned pub. Zipping down country lanes with my sixth-form mates in the back of my mum’s old fiesta, we had a great time. You don’t mind sticking to orange when you are a brand new driver!

The novelty of having a car and drinking soft drinks all night has worn off a bit after 23 years, but thankfully on Saturday night I wasn’t the designated driver. And Wighill is a bit further than we used to go, but those country lanes really brought back some memories. We were going to the White Swan for my Dad’s birthday, and it is one of those traditional village pubs I remember from my youth.

Thai fishcakes
We ordered drinks at the bar and were taken straight through to a table. The menu isn’t extensive, but this is always a good sign in my experience – too many options and you just get lots of dishes done quite badly. There was also a specials board, but none of them grabbed me so I ordered off the main menu.
For starter, I shared some Thai fishcakes with my sister. These were done very well.

Black pudding
A had a black pudding starter which was fried in batter.

For main, I had Cottage Pie which came with chips and vegetables - a bit of a carb-overload in that I never think that you should have chips with a pie that already has mash on it! The pie was excellent, though, with lots of beef mince and creamy mash. The vegetables on the side were slightly the wrong side of al dente, however, and almost raw.

Cottage pie

Other meals around the table looked good – A had the fish and chips which was a really big portion.

Fish and chips

It was a good meal overall. Service was just right and the pub was busy with other diners. Obviously a popular place.