Windermere’s Gilpin Hotel has a fine reputation as an idyllic spa and dining destination, and the hotel decided to ring the changes at the end of 2022, bringing in a trio of new head chefs to look after its restaurants. The result was two new restaurants - SOURCE and The Knipe Grill - but Gilpin Spice remains, which is a testament to the popularity of this easy-going pan-Asian spot and its loyal local clientele.
Gilpin Spice is the most relaxed of the restaurant trio, but inside there’s more than a touch of opulence. Lipstick red banquettes, embroidered scatter cushions and wood-panelled walls meet you as you walk in, and as you walk through into the main dining room, Gilpin Spice settles into a more modest mode - copper accents, clusters of pendant lights and neat natural wood floors. It’s smart, modern, and inviting, bathed in natural light thanks to large windows that look out onto the Gilpin’s pristine gardens - a perfect place to settle into a carafe of sake or a long, fresh cocktail when the sun is out.
The menu is a neat jigsaw of wide-spectrum pan-Asian flavours, in combinations that may surprise. The chilli paneer fry for example, is classic Indo-Chinese border cooking - stir-fried chunks of paneer liberally coated in a glossy sweet, sour, salty sauce, that has a welcome hit of chilli. It’s good stuff - we could easily eat another bowl, but we’re quickly into a crispy duck salad: shreds of deep-fried duck leg, topped with watercress, apple and radish. The salad felt a little scant, but the flavours are definitely there.
The same is true for ever-popular mains like the barbecue pork belly with Hong Kong-style sweet-and-sour, and braised beef featherblade in Vietnamese red curry. We found the latter a little on the dry side, but when swaddled in sauce it mattered not. We’d recommend saving room for one of the excellent kulfis too, which come liberally topped with candied nuts.