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The setting is special – a quaint red-brick former hunting lodge by a lake in rolling parkland: all part of the Brocket Hall estate. But the modern British cooking of Marcus McGuinness (ex-head chef at Hibiscus) more than matches its surroundings. Friendly, obliging staff seat you within Auberge du Lac’s mini-maze of atmospheric rooms, bringing a seasonally inspired, regularly changing menu that’s a joy to peruse. The eight-course tasting option, though £79, is great value when you consider such delights as a delicate coconut-laced wild garlic and prawn dumpling, or juicy, plump, roasted Scottish scallop served with sharp mandarin prepared three ways. Next, delicious 42-day aged fillet of Cumbrian beef might arrive with white asparagus and a Cévennes onion and wasabi purée – the gamey, smoky flavours teamed perfectly with an Amarone Valpolicella recommended by the sommelier. For dessert, rhubarb Savarin crème Chantilly and poached rhubarb boasts an ethereally light sponge, offset by a zingy rhubarb crisp. Finally, a spectacular cheese trolley is wheeled to the table: the perfect way to round off a memorable evening. Want to stay? Rooms are available at Melbourne Lodge (18th-century former stables), a short stroll away on the estate.
So after a quick freshen up it was time to wander back down the hill and over the lake to Auberge du Lac. Be warned, the dress code is strict. No denim or sports wear (understandable), collared shirts only (what’s wrong with a smart polo top?) and shirts are to be worn inside your waistband (ridiculous, but I went with it).Its position overlooking the lake and the hall is stunning. The building itself is beautiful, almost cute, with a soft warm glow spilling out of its windows highlighting its strong brickwork. Inside, the dining area decor is very simple, very safe. Crisp white tablecloths sat formally...
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