The Lake District has a new high-end restaurant. The Gaddum restaurant, named after the former Victorian owner William Gaddum, a silk merchant from Manchester, opened in spring as part of the development of the Brockhole Estate overlooking Lake Windermere.
As you’d expect – this is the Lake District after all – the surroundings are stunning, 30 acres of well-maintained grounds, with all manner of different activities on offer. A boisterous outdoorsy type? Simply scoot up that tree and wander across the 50ft high rope bridges.
If you prefer something a little more refined, head towards The Gaddum. It’s a bright open space, much lighter and less-formal than many fine dining restaurants in the Lakes. The staff are cheerful and well-versed in the intricacies of the menu, and for bonus British points, there’s even a tea sommelier.
We’re here for the lunch menu, which offers a solid dozen or so dishes, all geared towards the excellent summer weather. First up, the fish cake, made with lightly smoked white fish, mixed up with potato and chives picked from the grounds, all covered in a thick layer of crunchy breadcrumbs and served on a light salad. It’s nicely sturdy, with a crisp bite that gives way to soft mashed up haddock, with a subtle smokiness. It’s a fine starter, well-made and nicely memorable.
Today’s soup of the day – always made from locally foraged ingredients – is butternut squash, and utterly delicious. It’s thick and creamy without feeling heavy, light and summery, with a generous scattering of black onion seed and chopped chives. Some homebaked bread would have gone well with it, although that could prove a bit much for a three-course lunchtime menu. Either way, it’s a splendid soup, bright and colourful, and jampacked with fresh summertime aromas.
The first lunchtime main, the tongue-twistingly-titled Gaddum pea and ham hock hotchpotch is as pastoral as it gets. The flavours are delightfully traditional, a combination of hearty slow-cooked pork knuckle, weaved together with lightly-braised cannellini beans, pan-fried mushrooms, a summery pea purée and brilliantly sharp parmesan crisps that slice through the other gentler tastes without overwhelming them. And it’s a lot prettier than you’d expect.
The pan-seared sea bass is just as good, and even more forward-thinking. The fish is cooked well, with a nicely crispy skin, but the cauliflower ‘risotto’ (in quotation marks as tiny cubes of cauliflower masquerade as rice) is the most memorable item on the menu. The cauliflower works well, soft but with bite, resting in a gentle creamy sauce that contrasts with the paper-thin slices of pickled shallot. Finally, a handful of edible flowers add a picturesque colourful feel to the plate.
The doughnut dessert continues this theme of traditional meets modern. It’s a perfectly normal doughnut, freshly baked and packed full of homemade jam, surrounded by blobs of caramelised white chocolate cream on a pool of yet more jam. It’s as delicious and homely as it sounds, a perfect treat to round off the meal, if possibly a little heavy after the previous two courses.
For such a new venture, The Gaddum Restaurant has its sense of self nailed down: classic British cooking, with a modern high-end twist, in a laid-back beautiful location. These are early days but we can expect great things when it finally opens up for evening dining too.