When it comes to dining, Armathwaite Hall excels once again, offering two very different venues. The Lake View Restaurant is the epitome of tradition, elegance and glamour. It’s a beautiful and spacious dining hall with an option to take a table at the conservatory to make the most of the spectacular views.
The first thing that strikes you as you enter the restaurant is not the decoration, nor the perfectly set tables, even though all of those things are of note, but a huge window at the far end of the room, which rivals the most magnificent paintings. As if created by the most skillful of artists, there spreads a magical view of Bassenthwaite Lake and glorious hills in the background, framed by stone mullion floor to ceiling glass panes.
Consisting mostly of classical French and traditional English cuisine inspired dishes, the menu is exciting and there are plenty of option to get your mouth watering. A full dinner comprises of 5 courses, including a little tease of an amuse-bouche to start things off with, and a refreshing sorbet to cleanse the palate before the entrée. The menu gets reviewed and changed on a regular basis to keep things fresh and interesting. And talking of fresh, most of the ingredients used for cooking are locally sourced seasonal produce. You can even find reference to this, including the names of some suppliers, listed at the bottom of the page.
During my first dinner at the Lake View I got a bit adventurous and ordered something I had never tried before, putting a great deal of trust in chef’s commended cooking skills. And I wasn’t disappointed. It was truly amazing! I was really impressed by my venison steak that came perfectly cooked and marvellously presented. The tasty meat was garnished by puree of broccoli and complemented by blackberry braised red cabbage to balance things off – to add that all important sweetness and acidity. It was delightful, and I would certainly recommend it. Trying to resist the temptation to finish off with a large piece of delicious-looking cake, I tentatively asked for a fruit salad, which was not on the menu, and to my delight, our efficient and courteous waiter replied with a smile, ‘It’s not a problem, madam’, and emerged shortly with a large plate laden with colourful slices of fresh fruit accompanied by a small but delectable panna cotta. Yum!
The team took time to peruse the wine list and came to a consensus that the collection was excellent and the choice rather impressive. For those who would like to continue enjoying themselves late into the night after dinner, right next to The Lake View restaurant there is a beautifully appointed and well stocked traditional bar with a truly magnificent feature fireplace and fabulous views. The skilful bar-man can mix you anything your heart desires, and entertain you with a one man show of breath-taking juggling of the bottles and glasses in the air while making it.
The grand and imposing Lake View serves meals all through the day starting from breakfast consisting of the usual continental menu selection available in form of buffet, plus an option of a full English breakfast cooked to order with eggs made to your preference. There is a separate menu for lunch and, of course, a very tempting high tea with all the trimmings.
Dining at the Lake View Restaurant is a formal affair. Strictly no trainers, jeans or tee-shirts are allowed in attempt to keep the feel of the restaurant authentic and elegant. It’s a perfect place to celebrate a special occasion, have a romantic dinner à deux, or simply enjoy the carefully created sophisticated timeless style complemented by nostalgic vocals of Frank Sinatra creating a light-hearted and happy atmosphere.
To make your stay at Armathwaite Hall truly memorable, and to sample all the glamour, elegance and refinement of a dinner at a stately home, a meal at the Lake View restaurant is a must try experience. The food is excellent, the service is second to none, and the ambience will keep you coming back for more.
For the second night of our stay we booked our diner at The Courtyard Bar and Brasserie, which is the second restaurant on the estate. So, somewhat more informal dress-code was in, and we were off for a bit of relaxed, à la mode dining.
The ambience at the Brasserie is similar to those gorgeous cosy Italian restaurants we all know and love. The restaurant offers contemporary European cuisine and a real crowd-pleasing menu. Here you can start with some savoury crumbed goat cheese roulade or, my personal favourite, a wooden chopping board (keeping it authentic) loaded with green and black olives and a selection of dips made of olive oil and balsamic vinegar with thin slices of Italian bread and butter. For your main course you are offered such favourites as massive juicy steak, steak burger or ginger beer battered fillet of haddock with hand-cut chips. And to finish things off, you will be spoilt for choice with delicious classics like sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream, and gooey chocolate brownie with raspberry coulis and pistachio ice cream. Heaven!
The Courtyard Bar and Brasserie is also opened throughout the day, and situated right next door to the hyper modern and stylish spa in the new extension of the country house. We found it to be a really lovely place to enjoy a meal, the staff were friendly and attentive, the service was excellent, the ambience pleasant and relaxing, and the food delicious. A fabulous alternative to a formal dinner to spice things up!
There were a lot of deliberations amongst the team to pick the favourite out of the two restaurants, but, to tell you the truth, we never managed to name a clear winner. Both places stroke a chord with different members of the team. They were polar opposites in style, but both great in their own way.
When it comes to dining at Armathwaite Hall, formal or casual, classic or contemporary – you have the best of both worlds, the choice is yours. The good news is, you can’t really go wrong.
By Natasha Godbold