Let’s be honest, tasting menus are not to everyone’s, well, taste. They can be too multifaceted, made of unpronounceable ingredients and can err on the side of pretentious – like the pea shoot, frozen in nitrogen, served under a glass cloche and inhaled through the ear via a bong. Some leave you heading home via the chippy to fill up, only to find you can no longer afford a bag because the multi-star restaurant has pushed you over your credit limit.

How great then to be offered the new tasting menu at Gilpin Spice, located at the idyllic Gilpin Hotel & Lake House, near Windermere, where the courses actually need chewing and comprise chicken soup, fried chicken, fried rice and a Magnum, well at least of sorts.

Head chef Tom ‘Westy’ Westerland has been playing with his ingredients box and created a new menu to amuse, interest and ultimately satisfy. “I just want to have fun and the guests to have fun,” the affable Welshman says before we launch into the samples.

While some tasting menus leave you wanting more of your favourites, and nonplussed by others, here all the dishes in the ‘7 of the Best’ pan-Asian offering are a delight. The menu – there is a plant-based 7 of the Best too – must be taken by the whole table.

Great British Life: The India Room at Gilpin SpiceThe India Room at Gilpin Spice (Image: Gilpin Spice)

Elsewhere, there are close to 20 large, small and side plates to choose from a la carte, allowing diners to make up their own combination.

Overall the taste is South East Asian with flavours from the Spice Trail that are lighter and more aromatic, allowing the palate to clear and avoiding any numbness.

As the Chinese New Year enters it next phase and the dragon becomes the talisman of the ancient culture, appropriately the meal begins with dragon tea, a deeply intense savoury liquor that leaves the tastebuds screaming for more.

As you sip you can also scan an QR code on a piece of red paper which gives you access to the origami instructions with which you can create your own mythical beast – the best creations have the chance to win a Gilpin voucher.

Opening 7 of the Best, pani puri reminds the diner of the texture of a Quaver but is circular and full of chickpea thecha and chevda. Pour the tamarind water over the top, which is more akin to gravy, and pop the lot straight in your mouth – thank goodness there’s a second one to gorge as it’s lovely.

It’s a cold night and that requires soup which comes in the welcome form of Thai roast chicken broth with charred corn, lemon grass, ginger, coriander. Damn, my well of adjectives is already starting to run dry so it’s best described with a smack of the lips.

Consumed from the cup rather than with a spoon, it’s like drinking roast chicken and prompts profuse salivation. Westy came to Cumbria from Lucknam Park, is a former National Chef of the Year for Wales and has twice appeared on the BBC’s Great British Menu.

Great British Life: Loch Duart Salmon ChirashiLoch Duart Salmon Chirashi (Image: Gilpin Spice)

Apparently he hasn’t cooked pan-Asian much before and the dishes are continuously evolving as he experiments. He is constantly asking colleagues to ‘have a taste of this’, the feedback going back into the next incarnation.

Loch Duart salmon chirashi with yuzu ponzu, radish, wild rice and salmon roe is seawater salty with a kick. It is made by scraping the salmon bones and is best eaten with a fork not the spoon which would end the experience too quickly and foreshorten the joy of the crunch.

The next course is finger-lickin’ good, Westy fried chicken with gochujang (Korean chilli spice paste) and black sesame. Deep fried shredded chicken thighs feature a secret sauce. “What’s in it,” we ask? “Can’t tell you, it’s a secret,” Westy replies. Strangely I make no notes about this course – I’m too busy eating it. If only the portion was Colonel Sanders’ size, a full bucket. The accompanying Japanese pickles are a perfect counterpoint.

With the wine I have to defer to my companion for a critique for I’m teetotal. The Vondeling is a crisp, light, vibrant South African white that cuts through the richness of the meal and is easy to consume, I’m told.

Great British Life: Westy Fried ChickenWesty Fried Chicken (Image: Gilpin Spice)

It’s the same with the main course of ox cheeks as I no longer eat anything bovine, a victim of my own scaremongering after reporting the BSE crisis in the late 1980s.

Slow cooked for 12 hours and in a rendang sauce with fermented chilli and crispy onion, I’m told it melts in the mouth, is salty and intensely beefy.

I’m left with the accompanying ‘egg... fried rice’. You may think you know your egg fried rice, well you don’t until you have savoured Westy’s, including its ingredients of togarashi seasoning, barrel-aged soy and a slow cooked egg.

Grab your chopsticks for this one, plunge them into the egg and stir it into the rice for a heavenly delight. It’s a meal in itself and I no longer give the lack of main course a second thought.

Dessert comes in the form of a mini-‘Magnum’, or mango kulfi, frozen in I’m sure they say liquid oxygen, but I could be wrong, and covered in white chocolate, which sits on a base of passionfruit, mint and mango. I need more.

Great British Life: Mango Kulfi & MagnumMango Kulfi & Magnum (Image: Gilpin Spice)

Tasting menu over, I am nicely replete, without being too full. It’s been fun and relaxed, unpretentious and affordable, in surroundings that are upbeat and vibrant. The alternative 7 of the Best from the plant-based world includes achari carrot soup with bhel, coriander and lemon; wazwan tofu with tomato gravy, truffle honey, curry leaf; chatpata aloo tikki featuring spiced potato, chiwada, yoghurt, coriander, tamarind; and tamarind glazed aubergine with coriander chutney and coronation raisins.

Westy says: “Our ethos at Gilpin Spice is to serve dishes inspired by countries dotted along the Spice Trail, guided by fantastic Cumbrian and British ingredients. We add buckets of flavour, fun and flare to create what we hope is a varied and balanced menu of small plates to enjoy and share.” He’s got that right.