You’re on course 15, only 6 desserts to go” said the waitress with a cheery smile. Yikes! One had already been dining for three hours and one hadn’t even got to dessert. All six of them awaited us!
One had ventured to L’enclume. The restaurant resides in the delightful village of Cartmel in Cumbria. Mr. Simon Rogan is slowly taking over the village and now offers 18 rooms and has another restaurant “Rogan & co.”. Fortescue was in tow and had agreed to put aside his usual desire to eat meat and two veg. We were greeted with a big smile from the young lady on the door, none of that Fat Duck pomposity! Glancing around at the white walled brick interior one knew one had arrived at a place with some decent character. It was airy and already full of diners. The building is actually an 800 year old Blacksmiths so a number of rooms make up the restaurant and we were seated in the main part of the restaurant.
As you by now will have surmised, the set menu consisted of 21 courses….yes 21…TWENTY ONE!! Mr Simon Rogan!!!! Do you seriously think anyone would eat 21 courses for dinner and take 4 hours to do so. Are you going slightly …off the rails? Surely this is a ridiculous idea! And yet here we were. However, one had trepidations, Would there be the sound of shirt button’s popping off heaving stomachs? Would one fall asleep between courses?
As it was a set tasting menu, one needed only to order wine and we chose the wine selection to accompany the meal. Nine different wines accompanied the meal. Your Doctor did not wish to look at the menu beforehand so that each course would be a surprise. Waiting staff whizzed in and out of the kitchen serving other diner’s courses. One had to avert one’s eyes to ensure that one did not get a sneak preview of what was to come. The menu is below….click on the image for the full list?
The first course, “Oyster pebbles” arrived. An interesting grey ….pebble. Intriguing, very light and like a spongy meringue. It tasted of oyster and was delightful. One will not make you endure a description of each course. The highlights however were the Raw scallop which was refreshing and melted in one’s mouth. Beetroot broth was beautiful. Reg’s duck was delightful. Valley venison was vonderful. Of the desserts the milk skin was one’s favourite with a delicious creamy flavour.
The young sommelier’s wine selection was eclectic and explored the unusual. Portuguese, German, Italian, French and English wine (hurrah!) were all served. One noted in perusing the wine list that no Argentinian wine was included. Fortescue was pleased. The old boy is not happy that they are rattling sabres again over the Falklands and has chosen to boycott all things Argentinian. This was not however their reason at L’enclume. The sommelier felt that Argentinian wine overpowered the food. Hmm…he’s probably right. However, one can personally always be tempted by a good, hearty malbec.
After four and half hours we finished the 21st course and the 9th glass of wine and surprisingly one felt sated but not overly so. Each dish had been small, delicate, beautifully presented. Mr Rogan had concentrated on the flavours of the individual components.
By this time it was half past midnight. (note to self – book for 7pm next time!). Yes indeed Mr Rogan, you are not mad. One must congratulate you on your restaurant L’Enclume. The menu was long and intrepid, the food was excellent and it was a memorable evening. The staff had been friendly and chatty without being overly intrusive and the young maitre d’ who one had met at the Ritz in his previous life was very professional. Yes it was expensive at £120 (excluding the wine) but gadzooks, was it a memorable evening.
Well done. Invite me back please sir as your Michelin stars are well deserved. It was 21+9+4.5=Heaven.
Cartmel Nr Grange over Sands,
Tel: 015395 36362