Whilst on a family holiday in The Lake District, we took the ferry up to the picturesque little town of Ambleside for the day. Naturally, I wanted to enjoy a decent lunch as part of the trip (I just can't help myself) and looking at the available options, we plumped for Kysty, a new addition to the Michelin Guide this year. The place is a sister restaurant to The Old Stamp House just down the road (a Michelin star holder of course), and was originally set up as more of a coffee and cake affair, before making the move to full blown restaurant.
As an added incentive for visiting, I had actually been booked in to visit The Old Stamp House with my wife in April, but of course the dreaded COVID put paid to that sadly. And so, it was with a decent amount of anticipation that I rocked up with my wife and two young children on a sunny(ish) June Wednesday.
We were a couple of minutes late for our reservation but the welcome on arrival was warm and professional, and we were shown to our table at the front of the restaurant by one of the windows. The restaurant is a good space and I really liked the feel; it's got that nice combination of modern and chic but still warm and welcoming.
On offer at lunch is a single fairly narrow lunch menu with three choices for starters and mains and two choices per dessert. There's no children's menu but they were happy to provide fish and chips for the kids (i.e. something they'd actually eat). The wine/drinks list is actually fairly substantial with a good range of spirts, cocktails (including non-alcoholic) and a varied selection of wine. I enjoyed a couple of Lakes gin and tonics with my meal whilst my wife enjoyed her non-alcoholic Elderflower Spritzer; the kids were perfectly happy with their apple juice also.
Lunch began with some nibbles, served in this instance just to myself and my wife which was a shame, although given the set up here it's understandable why they don't serve them to the kids. First up was a little black pudding ball; this wasn't great to be honest and was rather claggy. Things improved with a decent little smoked mackerel bite delivered alongside the highlight of these initial nibbles, a delicious pair of beetroot meringues sandwiched around some cream cheese. Next up came bread in the form of a mini loaf which was suitability tasty also.
Lunch proper for me began with Cumbrian pork belly, served with apple, a dashi glaze and some caviar on a piece of crisp skin. It was nicely presented and perfectly edible, it didn't really blow me away but it was an entirely pleasant plate. My wife also enjoyed her starter of asparagus with an egg yolk sauce and both kids were perfectly happy their cod, chips and peas which was delivered alongside our starters with no fuss.
For mains, I had the (small piece of) ChalkStream trout served with a lovely open tomato tart, wild garlic and cabbage. The cooking of the fish was faultless and it was a tasty plate overall, my main disappointment though was with the rather lacklustre beurre rouge sauce; I was expecting that to pack a lot more flavour. My wife was less enthused with her main of guinea fowl with aubergine, spiced carrot and a sesame tuile. There was nothing fundamentally wrong with the dish but it wasn't very memorable.
For dessert I opted for the gingerbread cheesecake, served with strawberries, raspberries and a strawberry sorbet. It was a very nice dessert, the main issue was the base was really too thick for such a small slice, which was a shame. My wife had the chocolate delice served with marinated cherries, cherry sorbet and some lovely blobs of which chocolate ganache. Again she wasn't thrilled, but it was unquestionably an accomplished dessert. For the children, they provided a very tasty chocolate brownie with sorbet which both kids loved, it was probably their favourite dessert from our trip to The Lakes.
And so, a very enjoyable lunch came to an end. Service throughout was very pleasant (including with the kids) and the food on the whole was of a good standard too, albeit I felt there were elements of some dishes that could be improved. The lunch menu is not expensive but the portions are small, bigger than a tasting menu but quite a lot smaller than any fine dining carte menu I've eaten from in the past for example. But look, I appreciate why they've gone down that route and I don't really have a problem with that, I suppose it would just be nice if they could offer a lunch menu alongside a full-size-portions carte at lunch.
Overall, Kysty is a very fine restaurant in its own right, offering accomplished food, good service and a perfectly child friendly experience; I'd have no issue whatsoever visiting again in future and look forward to doing so.
|Ratings||Michelin Guide||AA Guide||Good Food Guide|
|At time of review||-||-|