Jumbles, Grasmere - restaurant review

If you like cosy and informal you'll like this Lake District restaurant. If you like blues, you'll love it. Roger Borrell reports

There was a time when it was hard to see past fish and chip or roast meat to find the essence of British cuisine. Today, every chef you find says he or she cooks something called Modern British, invariably with a mysterious ingredient called ‘a twist.’

Cynics would say you discover the twist when the bill arrives.

We were staying at Grasmere’s Dale Lodge, which serves excellent food and wonderful beer, so it was with some reluctance that we hit the snowy streets in search of somewhere that would kick the taste buds out of their mid-winter torpor.

Just around the corner, glowing like a fell-runner’s nose, was The Jumble Room, a place which has developed an adoring audience for around 14 years. No one would accuse it of being Modern British. The menu is eclectic.

The warmth of the welcome from Andy Hill, the avuncular chap in charge of the front-of-house, is matched by the quirky, colourful charm of the two storey restaurant. It couldn’t be cosier if they gave you slippers and a fluffy dressing gown at the door.

While The Jumble Room is relaxing it is not moribund. Both rooms beat to a rhythm thanks to Andy’s passion for music, particularly the blues. (The loos are decorated with old album covers) Accompanying him on skillet and spoons is wife, Chrissy, who cooks with fire and passion. You get the impression she creates the dishes she and Andy enjoy eating.

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We started off with a fish soup and a delicate lamb dish. It will never be discussed on the floor of the United Nations, but there is a debate to be had about whether rich, unctuous fish soup needs a hefty belt of hot spice. Whatever your opinion, this dish hit the spot on a cold night.

The lamb fillet was rolled in spices, seared and served pink in slices with aubergine, artichokes and a silky hummus puree. Each mouthful was a joy.

A green Thai seafood curry came with a small ocean of fish and prawns swimming in a piquant coconut sauce, but the star of the show was a Chicken Dithose. This South African dish involves stuffing chicken breast with a wonderful mix of pumpkin and sunflower seeds, honey, orange and apricot. It’s great to go to a restaurant and have something new - especially when it tastes this good.

Although the nation’s waistlines are forever expanding, we seem to have fallen out of love with restaurant puddings. Chrissy is doing her best to rekindle the romance with a tempting mix of imaginative home made desserts.

A pavlova with blackcurrants and marshmallow ice cream would bring the spark back to any relationship and an old favourite, treacle tart, was a little over-powered by lemon, but still raised a smile.

The Jumble Room changes its menu regularly. There are several specials each day and you will find delights such as duck ravioli with damsons.

There was no twist in the tail of this meal. With a bottle of good Beaujolais Villages, the bill was under �80. Great value for a terrific dinner.

 The Jumble Room, Langdale Road, Grasmere, LA22 9SU.

Tel: 015394 35188

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