Awarded 5* by The AA and Visit England, Quite Simply French is a fine French restaurant with boutique rooms in an old converted house by Lancaster’s River Lune. The building stands on St George’s Quay, built in 1750 during the height of trading at Lancaster Port, and has a double height front entrance, with bare stone walls, thick beams and low lighting on the ground floor inside. Here, and on the mezzanine floor above, which has views across the river itself, the restaurant serves honest, rustic French food, made using local ingredients. Above this are four unique rooms under the eaves of this 250 year-old building.
The menu at Quite Simply French changes every day, and under the influence of the shifting seasons. Absolute French classics, such as snails and pan-fried frogs legs can be found here, alongside the likes of duck breast, lobster, fillet of beef and crème brûlée. The emphasis is on sustainably grown, local produce, with a farm-to-fork ethos driving the kitchen: all of the beef is British, fruit, vegetables and cheese are from Preston and the ale is local, from Lancaster Brewery. The restaurant uses Cornish-assured oysters and Shetland mussels. Where ingredients need to be sourced from further afield, they come from the most prestigious of sources: Rungis Market in Paris, started in the 12th century, now home to 700 wholesalers and 3,800 producers. The kitchen has, in the past, used wild boar from the Pyrenees and French corn-fed duck and chicken.
In the rooms upstairs, the air of care and quality continues. Each has a king size bed with A cashmere mattress and, variously, a freestanding bath, large walk-in shower and bespoke window seat. The Ashton Room is perhaps the grandest on offer: a luxury suite across two levels, including a living room with a sofa. You’re encouraged to come for a fabulous dinner, and wake up to a special breakfast – a suggestion that might prove hard to resist when visiting Lancaster.