Forest Side

Grasmere, Ambleside

A Lake District hotel restaurant that pays homage to its bountiful location


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Set against the imposing backdrop of Wordsworth’s country in a gothic mansion, Forest Side deals in a different style of poetry, one that is presented on the plate.

Head chef Paul Leonard makes good use of the hotel’s bijou but still bountiful kitchen garden as well as ingredients grown and reared on local farms to create four and eight-course menus that showcase the best of what the Lake District has to offer.

A meal starts by being presented with a leather roll up filled with the numerous items of cutlery required for the various courses although fingers alone are needed for the selection of snacks that kick off proceedings. Menus change regularly but might include a tartare of local Dexter beef with whipped bone marrow, caviar and oxalis picked that morning from the garden; and salt-aged hogget served a number of different ways. Dishes are delicate and precise but Leonard also shows his more playful side, not least in his ‘Waldorf salad’, a supremely crispy and sweet one-bite morsel that comes ahead of the desserts.

Leonard’s skill isn’t only reserved for meat eaters. Forest Side also serves four and eight-course vegetarian menus that are no less creative, including salt-baked kohlrabi served in a seaweed and granny smith broth; and confit quails yolk with buttermilk and nasturtium.