Food Awards 2017 – Part 3, small independents

WadeandRockandFood Awards 2017

Awards part 1 focused on our top restaurants, part 2 focused on our favourite pubs and now part 3 focuses on four small independent food providers that gave us something special during 2017.

Lynwood & Co, Lechlade – best breakfast

We visited Lynwood & Co after seeing it named in the Guardian’s 50 best breakfast places in the UK. The coffee is sublime and, with bread made by Max Abbott of Sourdough Revolution,their bacon sandwich is unbelievably good. Lynwood Review

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Sourdough bacon sandwich

Beadlam Grange Farmshop, Beadlam – best cheese

A great cheese counter filled with carefully selected cheeses and staffed by people who really know a lot about the goods they are selling.  You can taste before you buy and you are unlikely to be disappointed.  Introduced us to Black Cheddar! Beadlam Review

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Black Sticks Blue, Barncliffe Brie, Mrs Bell’s Ewes Milk Blue and Charcoal Black Cheddar

Mannion & Co, Helmsley – best coffee and cake

Beautiful coffee and fabulous, freshly baked artisan made cakes.  The cakes are often decorated with fresh fruit and interesting herbs that put them on a level above the competition. Mannion & Co also gave us the best pasta dish of 2017! Mannion Review

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Blueberry & thyme frangipane tart and a cappucinno

Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House – best attached tea room

Usually when we visit an historic house and/or gardens the cafe or tea room seems to be only there to provide basic sustenance.  However at Blackwell they have an Arts & Crafts approach to food with a focus on quality, freshly prepared dishes.  We loved it! Blackwell Review

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Warm salad of pulled ham, orange & fennel served with Puy lentils, toasted pumpkin seeds, mixed leaves, honey mustard dressing and toasted homemade bread

Here’s hoping that 2018 gives us as much food joy as 2017!

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2017 Food Awards – Part 2, Pubs

WadeandRockandFood Awards 2017

The WadeandRockandFood Awards 2017 follow another year of dining out in hundreds of restaurants, pubs and cafes. The awards aim to celebrate the very best eating experiences we have had over the last 12 months. Awards 2017 part 1 focused on restaurants, part 2 focuses on pubs and part 3 will focus on small independent food providers.

In 2015 we found several sensational pubs. In both 2016 and 2017 we have not been quite so fortunate – with many places falling short on imagination and quality. However each of our top 3 pubs, shown below in alphabetical order, are definitely worthy of their place.

King William, Bath

Not in the most fashionable part of Bath but well worth the short walk from the town centre.  Fabulous beers on tap and interesting food that is beautifully prepared.  Informal, friendly atmosphere and great service. King Review

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Spiced beef brisket, red cabbage jam and shallot
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Pan roasted hake, crushed turnips and Bromham carrots
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Cinnamon and pumpkin creme diplomat with golden syrup ice cream and candied pecan nuts

Punch Bowl, Crossthwaite

Cumbrian hospitality at its very best.  Warm, welcoming and beautifully prepared food presented with style and good humour. Should be near the top of the list for any foodie visiting the lake district. Punch review

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Stornaway black pudding with bubble & squeak and a crispy hen’s egg
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Braised beef cheek with horseradish, wild mushrooms, creamed potatoes & borderlaise sauce
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Lemon tart with damson sorbet

 Red Lion, East Chisenbury

Our favourite gastropub was in peak form when we visited a few weeks ago.  Guy & Brittany Manning deliver dishes that are always good but often exceptional.  We’ve been dining here since before they earned their first Michelin star …and that was back in 2013.  Lion review 

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Scallop & black pudding tortellono with swede purée, pickled pears and chicken jus
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Pan-fried halibut with celeriac purée, poached Cox’s apples, Burbage shiitakes and a Noilly Prat beurre blanc
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Chocolate bark, poached pear with a hazelnut praline ice cream, home-made granola with a rum punch sorbet, chocolate creméux and a citrus Genoese sponge with apple & créme fraîche

Food Awards – Part 3, on small independent food providers, will follow in the next few days.

Dinner@The Three Hares, Sedbergh

After an extraordinarily beautiful day spent on the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail we are heading for dinner at The Three Hares in Sedbergh. We are with our good friends Thorkell, Amy, Alaya and we have even lured Ziggy away from his American football. The Three Hares is run by James and Nina. James is front of house – looking after the customers. Nina, using her experience of baking in Germany and of growing up with Japanese parents, is in the kitchen looking after the food.

Three pints of Saison, a spicy pale ale with all the strength of a quarterback, arrive for Thorkell, Ziggy and myself plus a bottle of Ventoux – a French red which should work well with most of the dishes we have ordered. I don’t normally pass comment on the bread we are served with our food but here it is fantastic – several varieties, all beautiful and we will return tomorrow to buy more!

The menu looks very ambitious. I kickoff with the pigeon, black pudding, celeriac & watercress which is very good. Thorkell has the very interesting looking heritage tomato crostini. Rock has the aubergine & feta pie for her starter. Everyone else is happy with the bread, olive oil & Balsamic.

Most of us have now moved onto the red wine in time for the mains. Alaya and I both punt for the hare loin, confit leg & truffle risotto with kohlrabi and a formation of chantenay carrots. The loin is pretty good but I struggle with the strength of the truffle in the risotto. Amy tackles the Tamworth pork loin with salt baked beetroot, radish, wild garlic & mash.

Rock & Ziggy both have a fair catch of stone bass with a huddle of maple peas, pancetta, swede and sea herbs. The fish is expertly cooked and well flavoured. Thorkell has the Howgill hogget loin & shoulder with a touchdown of hotpot vegetables and red cabbage. For anyone that does not know, hogget is meat from a sheep aged between one and two years old. Some people think it is better than lamb or mutton. Thorkell absolutely loves it!

We can still find room for dessert and between us we order: blackberry sorbet with caramelised white chocolate crumble, and an end zone of apple & poppy seed; Yorkshire rhubarb with duck egg custard & gingerbread; and a block of sticky toffee pudding with real ale ice cream and oat crumble. All the desserts are excellent.

The menu today at The Three Hares is very game orientated with much less of a Japanese influence than we had hoped for. It has an adventurous approach to its dishes that many foodies will adore. After spending most of the day with Thorkell & Amy, the real pleasure here for Rock and I, was to also pocket a little quality time with Ziggy and Alaya.

Lunch@Blackwell, the Arts&Crafts House

Blackwell, the Arts & Crafts House is a showpiece of the twentieth century arts & crafts design movement. After spending a couple of hours looking at the sensational furniture, lighting and decoration – we are ready for lunch. Tea rooms at places like this are usually pleasant enough but our expectations are probably set at moderate.

A bottle of Lakeland Lager from the Hawkshead Brewery, a pale and golden beer made with both lager hops and malt but then, interestingly, ale rather than lager yeast. It is very good indeed.

Rock is having a warm salad of pulled ham, orange & fennel served with Puy lentils, toasted pumpkin seeds, mixed leaves, honey mustard dressing and toasted homemade bread. She is loving it – quality products, beautifully put together. I have the Cajun spiced crab potato cakes with lemon mayo and a mixed salad. The potato cakes are delicately spiced and contain plenty of crab.

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We have loved looking at the house and we have loved the lunch in the Blackwell Tea Room. Indeed, our expectations may have only been moderate and the menu relatively simple, but this is probably the best meal we have had on the road trip so far!

Dinner@Rogan&Co, Cartmel

We have been looking forward to trying another Simon Rogan place ever since we had such a fantastic lunch at Roganic, his pop-up restaurant in London. Now the road trip has brought us to Cartmel, the home of two of his restaurants, L’Enclume and Rogan & Co. We are visiting Rogan & Co in Cartmel for dinner. Our expectations are high.

It is a smart place but quite relaxed and the menu looks interesting. I have a pint of the very local Crusader Gold from the Unsworth’s Yard Brewery in Cartmel. It is a very pleasant, crisp golden ale with a refreshing citrus finish.

I start with the ocean trout served with radish, pumpkin seed, buttermilk and parsley. Loads of interesting complex flavours and the trout is cooked to perfection. Rock has the butternut squash with black garlic & pork crackling. It sounds like a great combination but she finds it bland, almost tasteless.

I’m now really hoping that Rock likes her main course – gurnard with cauliflower, leek and preserved lemon. It is certainly more interesting than her starter but she finds the gurnard to be more meaty than she had hoped. We share a side of creamed potatoes which work well with my barrel rump steak, kohlrabi, mustard leaf and walnut.

Rock may not be that happy but I’m having a great time. I’m also having a glass of rioja – it is excellent and the combination of golden ale and rioja may help to explain why I’m enjoying the food more than Rock.

We decide to share the blue cheese, rhubarb and white chocolate dessert. It is the dish of the day – a fabulous combination of flavours, beautifully presented and hits the same culinary heights that we recall from Roganic.

Overall, Rogan & Co is a very pleasant place to be, relaxed atmosphere, attentive service but the food did not always meet our high expectations.

Lunch@Baba Ganoush, Kendal

After a pleasant walk along the river Kent close to the centre of Kendal we have arrived at Baba Ganoush. We have to queue for food and for a table but it is worth it. Rock has a fabulous salad of lemon hummus, babaganoush, couscous, spicy coleslaw, green beans with parmesan, tomato salad and green leaves. I have the grilled falafel & halloumi wrap. Plus a fabulous ginger beer from Cawston Press.

It is only once we have sat down that we realise that we aren’t where we planned to be. This is the Baba Ganoush food shop – with tables. We were actually aiming to eat in the Baba Ganoush canteen. No matter, the food in the food store is fantastic.

Coffee & Cake@The Bakehouse, Greenodd

We are at The Bakehouse in Greenodd and it is not often that a piece of cake is so good that I have to blog about it. However, along with excellent coffees, we are enjoying a piece of their iced gingerbread. It is covered in a thin film of icing that perfectly sweetens the beautifully moist and fully flavoured gingerbread. It is so good that we go on to buy white rolls for tomorrow’s lunch and take home a custard tart for afternoon tea. If you are in the southern lake district looking for coffee and/or baked goods then this place should be at the top of your list.

Postscript: The rolls and the tart were fantastic too!