We are huge fans of L'Enclume, and hoped that he would bring something a little more exciting to the show. After winning the North West regional heat, Simon's dessert was picked for the banquet. We only had one option. We had to go and try this creation! So, my partner in crime, Mrs Petticoat (aka Vicki) booked us a table pronto. The Horwich Fine Dining Society were once again on tour.
I hope you now understand the level of excitement we are talking about here? We were a little disappointed to hear that the Great British Menu was being served in L'Enclume's sister restaurant Rogan and Co. This also meant that we couldn't stay over in their rooms, and everywhere locally was booked up. So we booked a lunch reservation instead.
Yesterday Vicki called to check our reservation, and was informed that there was nothing there, and nothing that could be done. After a trip to work to retrieve the confirmation email, only then were we given a guarantee of a table. A table we booked weeks ago. This wasn't a great start, but we tried not to let it dampen our spirits.
On arriving at the restaurant, we were seated and menus were brought over. It was Father's Day, so a special menu was also available. Unfortunately, this is where our experience started to go rapidly downhill. Please understand that I am not in the business of writing scathing reviews, and always try to remain constructive. I will therefore give you the facts.
We were left almost twenty minutes without a drinks order being taken, whilst other diners were seated and theirs taken immediately. No apologies were made when it was taken, and the manager proceded to take our food order soon after that. About ten minutes later, some canapes arrived. I have to say these were lovely, if not a little hot! We didn't quite catch what they were, other than that they contained eel and had a smoky taste. I really liked these!
Then came some bread rolls. The bread itself was tasty, but we weren't actually told what flavours they were. One was clearly a crusty white roll, the other darker one had a treacly taste. These were a pleasant little filler as we were all starving!
I was particularly excited about the starter, as it had been so well received by Marcus Wareing during the filming of the Great British Menu. It was a warm salad, which reminded me a little of the Satio Tempestas which we had at Frantzen/Lindeberg in March (which was phenomenal). I can only describe this dish as 'nice'. The leaves were crispy compared to the smooth custard and there were lots of little additions on the plate which added a certain something. However, having eaten at L'Enclume several times, this felt a bit like a watered down version of what Simon normally serves.
|Grilled salad smoked over embers, ragstone, custard and cobnut|
|Native lobster soaked in its own juices, with pickled beetroots, |
sweet apple and cuckoo flower
At this point the service slowed down considerably. Our waitress walked past our table several times, acknowledging that we still had plates in front of us and no drinks. In the end, we went and ordered drinks at the bar. It was nearly twenty minutes before our plates were removed. I would normally welcome a break before the main course, but we were all still ravenous!
We had been eyeing up the roast beef going past us which was on the Father's Day menu, and were looking forward to the suckling pig main. When it arrived it was tiny. Our hearts sank! The piece of pork belly was only twice the size of the canapes we had when we arrived. I have to say that the pork itself was obviously of high quality and was rich in flavour. I liked this. I would have just preferred to have slightly more of it. This amount is fine when you are in the middle of a fifteen course tasting menu, but in this instance was just not substantial enough for a main course.
|Suckling pig cooked 24 hours with northern mead and nasturtium|
|Hazelnuts and sweet cheese, rosehips and anise hyssop|
I really am a huge fan of Simon's, but I couldn't help but feel like this food was like seeing about 30% of what he is capable of. Likewise, we have had fantastic service in L'Enclume.
Please do not let my review of this one occasion put you off going to L'Enclume. We have had some fantastic experiences there and fully intend to go back. I think perhaps the concept of recreating the Great British Menu at Rogan and Co is flawed. I understand that there is a huge overhaul of menu and processes underway at Rogan and Co, so this may have contributed to the disjointed feel in the dining room.
The Great British Menu cost £59 per head for four courses. We did receive a discount based on our feedback.