I don’t even know where to start telling you all about this amazing hotel. Ravenstone Manor nestles under Skiddaw mountain in Bassenthwaite near Keswick in the Lake District. We love the lakes, so the location was perfect for mountain biking on the single track up at Whinlatter Forest and walking in the hills and dales. It was a last minute holiday but we both needed a break, it has been a long year for us both. We stopped off on the way in Liverpool to stay with a friend and visited The Allergy Show North – well worth visiting if you can, it’s not just a copy of the London show.
How did I discover Ravenstone Manor catered for allergic diners?
Ravenstone Manor entered the B&B Section of the FreeFrom Eating out Awards and I volunteered to head up North and see what they had to offer. At first I couldn’t mention I had even been, even though I was bursting to blog about it, because it was all top secret; I was reviewing them for the FreeFrom Eating Out Awards so I was incognito and pretending I was just a normal guest. Yeah right! I so thought I had been rumbled because I had had to be so picky and check everything that I failed to spot I had emailed the chef with the footer of my email including link to the whatallergy blog. He had indeed read my blog so I was convinced at that point that the game was up. But there were so many others staying over the months before the awards were announced that apparently, they hadn’t a clue!
I have so much to say and so many photos of the amazing food I had while staying here. It really was like a dream come true. Nothing was too much trouble and at no point did I feel like I was causing problems in the kitchen or being a pain the backside. We were not the only guests with allergies. There was a family with a peanut allergic child, someone with a dairy allergy and quite a few ordering gluten free.
Ravenstone Manor is completely gluten free. Totally and utterly free from any wheat, gluten, barley or rye. A coeliac’s dream come true too. So one of my allergens, wheat, was already taken care of, so all we needed to worry about were the nuts, dairy and soya and not forgetting the celery and tomato for added measure.
Every day I could order pretty much EVERYTHING on the menu and I’m not kidding. There were a few things off limits, like the dauphinoise potatoes – I’m not asking for miracles and would never expect something like this to be produced for me freefrom dairy – it wouldn’t be realistic. But to have the whole menu there all for me to choose from was almost too much for my little brain to cope with. There was just SOOO much choice. I am not used to choice. I don’t normally get choice.
I also learnt loads from chef Chris Bridges, who was quite an inspiration. He had gone through the whole menu for the week we were staying and when we checked in he asked if we would meet with him to chat through what I could eat. He really had thought of everything. He had ordered stuff in specially, since we had already had a phone conversation and email trail checking what would be OK before we arrived. He even looked at enumbers as one of them may be derived from soya.
Anyway I want to share everything about my stay here and because there is so much to say, I’ll start with the aperitifs. Each evening we dressed for dinner, well you didn’t have to but we were on holiday and I don’t get out much. There was a fire roaring in the grate and we met the other guests, chatted to the manager and began the taste experience with a little snack before the main event. This happened every evening. A drink from the bar, a juice and two little bite sized tasters. They were delicious, simple and really inspired. Sometimes my option was slightly different to everyone else and I don’t have photos of everything but here are three of the mini taster plates we had during the week.
And then the next time we had…
And another night we had…
And on the other night we had mini jacket new potatoes with a mouthful of filling, another refreshing smoothie and a different little bite sized morsel. It was a really lovely way to start the evening each night and I haven’t been to many posh places before so for this felt very decadent. I loved it!
Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is again just remembering all that food. I actually put on about half a stone, despite the walking and cycling; I just couldn’t resist having the full English breakfast and everything on offer. I think if I stayed again I would be able to display a little more restraint – we never normally have a starter and pudding at home and never a cooked breakfast but it was such a treat.
I am so pleased that Ravenstone Manor won the B&B and Hotels award at the FreeFrom Eating Out Awards 2014. It was very well deserved. I would have put them in the running for the final prize too; not only did they feed me for one evening, they managed to cater for me for a whole four days!
Over the next few weeks I will share with you the breakfasts, starters, the mains and the puddings. I will end with the amazing puddings because at Ravenstone Manor, fruit was most definitely not the only safe pudding on offer. By the end of our stay I had eaten so much I did actually wish I could have had the fruit salad, but the chance to try so many amazing desserts spurred me on to work my way down the whole menu. There is just too much for one blog.
If you want to find out more about Ravenstone Manor’s website here.