Short break - Castle Green Hotel, Kendal
PUBLISHED: 14:18 02 January 2017 | UPDATED: 14:18 02 January 2017
not not Archant
We head for Kendal, on the edge of the Lake District, to get a very pleasant taste of a hotel with a Cheshire connection, writes Louise Allen-Taylor
There is a wedding reception in progress in the function room of the Castle Green Hotel, and a happy throng of diners in the Greenhouse restaurant, with its views over the hotel gardens and beyond.
How do we know that these are, indeed, happy customers? Well, the Castle Green was last year elevated to the TripAdvisor Hall of Fame after five years of consistently high customer ratings. Throw in a couple of AA Rosettes for the Greenhouse - which has been freshly re-designed along with a £450,000 refit of 33 guestrooms - plus the hotel’s recent promotion to the Best Western Premier Collection, and the Castle Green is plainly on a roll.
Once the offices of Norweb, the North West Electricity Board, the building was converted into a hotel in 1997 after being acquired by the Armstrong family, who are still the owners. Catering at first predominantly for corporate business, the recession saw the business switch more towards leisure and weddings.
Our interest in the hotel, a mile or so up the hill out of Kendal, is that Castle Green is the sister restaurant to the Best Western Plus Pinewood in Wilmslow. Both hotels pride themselves on their food, and in Castle Green’s case that food comes courtesy of executive chef Justin Woods, who learned his trade at The Lanesborough, the London hotel whose near-neighbours include HM The Queen.
Food fit for a queen, then? Let’s see. Our five-course tasting menu (£45 per head, flight of matched wines £20) begins very promisingly with paper-thin Cartmel Valley smoked salmon and a creamy rillette of hot smoked salmon, a dab of horseradish cream, tiny cubes of beetroot and rye bread. Next comes scallops with pea and mint ravioli (actually, raviolo...there is only one of the tasty little envelopes) broad beans and pea shoots - a wonderfully verdant, fresh and honest plate of food.
In this neck of the woods, lamb is a given, so we get lamb two distinctly different ways: soft, yielding loin and craggy, friable shoulder, with fondant potato, pea puree, broad beans and curd cheese.
The cheese selection is, of course, Cumbrian , with a lovely green tomato chutney, and the dessert is a collection of miniatures: sticky toffee pud, gingerbread and butter pud and damson Bakewell with damson gin jelly and Kendal mint cake ice cream.
We are back the next night to try the à la carte at the Greenhouse. The stars here include a Cumbrian crab and lobster cocktail (£8.50) with mashed avocado, sourdough toast and a buttery variant on a Marie Rose sauce; a light garden pea soup (£6); fillet of beef (£22.50) with a delicate watercress risotto and red wine sauce; a Saddleback pork chop (£20.50) which would have satisfied the appetite of Desperate Dan and a lemon curd parfait (£6.50) which managed to be lemony but not sharp, and creamy but not over-creamy.
There is a spa, fitness centre and swimming pool. Those newly-refurbished rooms are sleek and stylish, and you are a 15-minute walk from Kendal, which, though it does not have the chocolate box charms of towns and villages to the north in the Lake District, does have a castle (ruined), several museums and some very good shopping. And don’t forget the Kendal Mint Cake.
Castle Green Hotel is off Castle Green Road at Kendal, LA9 6RG. Tel 01539 734000, see www.castlegreen.co.uk