New Michelin starred entry for 2023 in Cumbria - half pub half main restaurant
Heft received its Michelin star in the 2023 guide and its addition helps to keep Cumbria the county with the most Michelin stars within the UK. It is modern cooking by Kevin Tickle who is formerly of L’Enclume and the head forager at Forest Side (both also in Cumbria). The menus represent very good value for money, with a set menu lunch option for £45, a Sunday roast menu for £37 and evening set menu for £110. The lunch experienced showed good skill and I thought it an especially nice touch that the pub area (on entering) serves sausage rolls and pies that change each week – these are prepared each day by the same Michelin starred kitchen and would get my firm vote to try if you are passing.
A series of well-prepared canapés began the meal. ‘Uncle Juan’s rosti’ came with sour cream & pickled onions and was a superb start. Next, for the meat eaters, ham, egg & Berkswell crumpet (just the egg for the vegetarian version) which was appealing, followed by an Oxtail & Thyme custard, bone marrow cordyceps and tarragon bite (minus the beef elements for the vegetarian option) – all fine.
The amuse bouche was Umbellifers (flowers) cooked in allium broth with ricotta, thyme and ramson (a form of wild garlic flower); this was deep and beautifully done. Home made bread and whipped, salted butter were very well done. Onion, onion, onion, mint was the name of the next course that comprised of onions cooked in dashi and celery, served with ricotta, onion crisp, thyme leaves and oxalis petals.
The first of the mains were corn fed roasted crown of chicken served with a herb rosti, honey glazed alliums, smoked aubergine and a white onion puree. This included thyme, tarragon, pickled carrot, sour cream and ramson oil for the chicken and the seabass pescatarian version. The sauces for these had good depth and worked with both dishes with another superb rosti to go with the mains.
The dessert was a delight and reminded me of Norwegian Rødgrød – a sweet composite of plum and damson served with goat’s milk, marigold oil, brown butter/sugar crunch on top. Some at the table felt this was too sweet, but I thought fine when balanced with the goats milk and loved the texture of the butter and sugar crunch. There will have one or two calories in this dish for sure, but I thought very good.
Redbank coffee was served with petit fours of buttermilk custard madeleines, sea buckthorn pastiles and chocolate grenache, all of which were good. It completed a meal that was satisfying, clean cut and well presented. The next time I am passing I will be delighted to come back in and try a freshly made sausage roll from Kevin Tickle’s team with a beer in their pub area – for around £10, I predict that will be one of the best purchases available.
Food Grade: 81%