Food profile - Mizu, Lodore Falls Hotel, Borrowdale
- Credit: Archant
A £10million project has transformed a Victorian hotel into a Lakes spa resort with a brilliant pan-Asian restaurant. Roger Borrell reports.
IT would be fake news to talk about cranes on the skyline but the level of investment going into the Lake District’s hospitality industry must gladden the hearts of anyone who cares about the region’s economy.
This drive to create world class facilities for visitors is admirably demonstrated at the Lodore Falls Hotel, which occupies an outstanding location alongside Derwentwater. The Graves family, owners of the Lake District Hotels group, will have spent something like £10 million transforming a much-loved destination into one of the north’s most exciting and luxurious spa resorts.
While the exterior of this fine old Victorian hotel remains largely unruffled, a look around the back will reveal a major expansion project reaching its conclusion. After refurbishing the public rooms, the family turned their attention to creating top-of-the-range suites, a spa and new pan-Asian restaurant called Mizu. (The name is Japanese for falling water and that couldn’t be more apt as it overlooks the Lodore Falls).
The owners have given this cosmopolitan restaurant a décor in cool colours with natural materials, floor-to-ceiling windows and beautiful tableware. The open plan kitchen serves a mix of Malaysian, Japanese and Thai dishes created by a team working under talented Sri Lankan chef, Kasun Jayasooriya.
His life-long love of Japanese cuisine – he cut his teeth in Tokyo before moving to London, cooking in some of the capital’s top restaurants – comes through in many of the dishes.
The menu is a small work of art, illustrated with tempting sushi and sashimi, tempura, fragrant curries and delicately spiced bowls of ramen, plus beef, chicken and fish dishes from the grill. There are also plenty of options for vegetarians.
The real masterpieces come on the plate. This form of cuisine is as much about looking as tasting and Kasun’s dishes arrive on a series of salt glazed dishes of different shapes and sizes, the jewel-like food precisely placed on glossy green leaves. It’s feng shui for foodies.
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The coward’s way out is to go for the tasting menu for two, which is £38 per person. This is largely Japanese themed starting with extremely well made sushi and sashimi accompanied by pickled ginger and a wasabi paste that makes you stop and think without requiring you to cry for mercy. Be warned; this dish will ruin lunchtimes for anyone who buys supermarket sushi.
The helpful waiting staff allowed us to swap one of the dishes for succulent miso-grilled aubergine which came on wooden skewers with red and moroni miso. Beef tataki followed. This was seared and came with blue cheese and sesame seeds. The pink meat was as tender as a farewell kiss.
Crisp shrimps were cooked with shichimi pepper, a mix of seven spices that was fiery without managing to disguise the fact you were dealing with some quality crustaceans.
The star of the show was teriyaki lamb cutlets, tender and crisp triangles with leeks, fresh chillies, fish roe, mayonnaise and a black garlic sauce that was, well, black and garlicky. What more could you ask of black garlic sauce?
A finale of green tea and passion fruit mousse with something called matcha sponge and puffed rice was a calming influence after an exceptional culinary tour of the far east. There are few yardsticks in the region to set against this type of food but, if it helps, I thought it was excellent and next time I’ll be more adventurous with my selection.
Yes, some might question if people really go to the Lakes to eat oriental food but much of what’s on the menu is locally produced and who doesn’t want an occasional break from the ‘modern British with a twist’ shtick?
Besides, the Lodore still has its 2 AA rosette Lake View restaurant if you don’t want pan-Asian every night. I have a suspicion that once the spa is in full swing, the buffed and beautified ones will be forming a queue outside Mizu.
As for the new luxury suites, these are as good as anything you’ll find in the north and better than most. The majority will be across the Watendlath Beck, which runs through the hotel’s spa garden. Once completed, there will be 18 new bedrooms with Scandi-inspired décor, designer furniture, luxury bathrooms, and some with balconies. People have been falling in love with the Lodore Fall since the 1870s. The level of ambition and the eye for detail shown in this latest phase in its history will ensure a new generation comes away enchanted.
Roger Borrell was a guest of the Lodore Falls Hotel, Borrowdale, near Keswick, CA12 5UX. You can find out more at www.lakedistricthotels.net