Former L’Enclume chef Kevin Tickle has created an ambitious restaurant that’s deeply rooted in its Lake District locale
Immaculately garbed in tweed jackets, the staff at Forest Side look like they’re about to throw a rifle over their shoulders and stalk the red deer that occasionally roam the grounds.
But this Lake District hotel is not stuffy and it’s certainly not posh (although it isn’t cheap). Stripped-back luxury is the name of the game here, with the design of the hotel – a converted Gothic manor that opened for business in 2016 – intended to let its undeniably stunning surroundings do the heavy lifting.
Just to the north of Lake Windermere in Grasmere, Forest Side is overseen by Kevin Tickle, who was one of Simon Rogan’s lieutenants and cooked for several years at his Cumbrian two-star L’Enclume. For a spell the softly spoken chef was also Rogan’s head forager. He is, therefore, an authority on the area’s ingredients and foraged and locally sourced produce are central to his kitchen’s approach.
So too is a sense of humour, with the hotel’s two tasting menus (£105/£85) containing such gems as “Will and Emma’s Herdwick hogget from three-and-a-half minutes up the road (four-and-a-half if the traffic is bad)” and “‘quite possibly the best bag of cheese and onion crisps I ever ate’ according to Katie from Huddersfield”.
The high-ceilinged dining room is quite something, with huge bay windows providing great views of neat grounds, with rugged forest and fells beyond. The service style is well judged: despite this being a restaurant of considerable gastronomic ambition there are no tablecloths and the service is warm and informal.