Whizzing past Windermere on the A591 it is very easy to drive past the Cedar Manor Hotel & Restaurant on your left without realizing you’ve even passed it. Tucked behind an imposing Cedar tree this rather grand manor house sits seemingly off the beaten track, nestled in the privacy of its own grounds and sweeping driveway. Built in 1851 according to the High Victorian Gothic style originally promoted and derived from the works of architect and theorist John Ruskin, this grandiose building is both unique and striking.
Now a successful boutique hotel run by Jonathan and Caroline Kaye, this small hostelry on the outskirts of Windermere has been quietly picking up accolades and Trip Advisor 5 star rated excellence ever since they acquired it ten years ago.
Working with Head Chef Roger Pergo-Wilson, a stalwart of the Cedar Manor for six years, Jonathan and Caroline invited me to their restaurant to give their Winter Menu the Welly once-over. As my father was up from Liverpool for his regular shoot meet over at Kirkby, I took him with me as my plus one. Dad is a massive foodie fan and well versed in critiquing new eateries and accommodation in the Lakes, having visited the area for many years. He is to all intents and purposes my Welly sidekick when I need that all-important second opinion on a new review…
What is striking when arriving at Cedar Manor (aside from the enormous Deodar Cedar on entering the driveway), is how immaculate the lounge areas are. It is so evident from the enthusiasm and positivity shown by Jonathan when showing us around that he and Caroline are both passionate and immensely proud of the decor and service they bestow on their guests.
The furnishings are modern, plush and bright but country-cosy at the same time. The bar area is delightfully small and personal with comfy sofas and a warming fire.
Caroline explains that all the rooms were stripped back and carefully refurbished, mindful of the importance of retaining the original gothic-style features such as the window frames and architraving.
They’ve also extended the hotel with a massive overhaul of their luxurious Coach House suite located at the back of the house behind the bar area. Caroline proudly showed me photos of some of the rooms including the Coach House – all a sumptuous extension of the quality furnishings and decor already present in the lounge we were sitting in. I shall most certainly be back to review the accommodation… but on to the food.
The restaurant was small but perfectly lit creating a cosy ambience. Ceiling and wall lights were dimmed to just the right level with fairy lights draped over feature corner plants. Although room for just twenty covers the space still felt big enough to give guests privacy with a snug and comfortable feel.
We were served a celery, lovage and sweetcorn soup as an appetizer. Accompanied with home-made date and walnut bread the Winter Menu had got off to a cracking start. Rich flavours of hearty celery with fresh lovage complimented the nutty bread and made for a delicious amuse-bouche.
Next our starters arrived – I had opted for the Beetroot Stained Salmon Gravadlax with celeriac and apple remoulade whilst Dad chose the Mussel and Saffron Risotto with spinach, pak choi, peas and rocket. Immaculately presented, the clean flavours of Gravadlax worked well with the sweet apple and punchy celeriac. Dad’s saffron-infused risotto was delicate enough not to over-power the dish.
It was great to see a good choice of mains on offer. Perhaps not as experimental as some winter menus featuring game and other little-known fowl, Jonathan and Caroline have chosen locally-sourced produce with meats provided by Lakes Speciality Foods in Staveley and seafood from Neves of Fleetwood. I plumped for the slow cooked lamb and Dad opted for chicken breast. Far from boring, my lamb was cooked in an exotic tamarind and date sauce with garlic mashed potatoes whilst the chicken breast was served with a pine nut crust, creamed leeks, sugar snaps and fettuccine. The lamb was cooked to perfection with a fabulous mix of sweet and spicy flavours, whilst Dad’s chicken was succulent and perfectly suited to the leeks and pine nuts. The only comment he had was that for him the fettucine was surplus to requirements and if anything a side of mash would have been more suitable for the dish. Regardless, the food was perfectly cooked and exquisitely presented with the portion sizes just right, particularly as I had arrived hungry and definitely in the mood for more food than plate in front of me.
By now we were both feeling thoroughly sated with just the tiniest space for dessert. Dad chose the Coconut Financier with natural yoghurt and stem ginger mousse. Together with a coulis of blackberries it certainly sounded like the ‘lighter’ choice. Fancying the home-made ice cream as a good palatte cleanser, I expected the usual fruit flavours of strawberry and choc etc but Jonathan recommended the chef’s latest marmalade flavour with accompanying, wait for it – ‘bread’ ice-cream. Baffled, I was curious… and certainly not disappointed; the marmalade ice-cream was delicious with just the right level of bitter-sweetness and the bread ice-cream rounded it off nicely with a plainer, more creamy flavour complete with breadcrumbs throughout – a fantastic cohesion of flavours with a unique twist. I don’t think I’ve ever been that impressed with an ice-cream dessert before – simply delicious!
Jonathan and Caroline have created a unique culinary spot here in Windermere. Both passionate about the service and experience they offer their guests, as a boutique hotel their approach is naturally hands-on adding to the overall charm and welcoming feel. They have worked hard to ensure that the quality of service and unique decor equally matches top-notch cuisine, thus providing guests with the complete package and a well-deserved double AA Rosette Award for Culinary Excellence. Well done and thankyou Jonathan and Caroline for a very #wellycool foodie experience 🙂
Prices: Table d’Hôte £42.95 with a choice of 3 courses. They also offer 2 courses at £32.95 per person. Additional cheese course (supplied by the Cheese Larder, Kendal) £10.95 per person. We felt that the prices were reasonable for the quality of food, surroundings and proximity to the tourist centre of Windermere.
Good for: Romantic dinner for two or small groups. Relaxed feel to the restaurant and so raucous laughter would be acceptable ( and more than likely include Jonathan himself who spent time chatting and laughing with his guests while we were there) – very relaxed, easy atmosphere.
Not for: The restaurant is small and cosy so perhaps not the best place to bring kids. Good for a night off parent duty we say.
Cedar Manor Hotel and Restaurant, Ambleside Road, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 1AX
T: 015394 43192 firstname.lastname@example.org