I am on a journey from London to Cornwall and I need a place for lunch. Since there is a long standing guide for motorists needing a place to stop for eating on their journey, it seems only right to go with one of its suggestions and Lucknam Park is my chosen destination for the day. It is however a Sunday and I wonder what difference that might make to things and wonder too whether it's fair to judge a Michelin starred restaurant on what is simply a Sunday roast day.
On arrival, all the staff are wonderfully welcoming and even though it is lunch (not dinner), there's a seat in the drawing room first for a glass of champagne if you want one and a chance to look at the menu. On Sunday a lunch the menu offers three courses for £39 which strikes me as good value, with some London chop houses now charging more. The menu reads with Michelin precision and I'm tempted by several starters including 'compression of Woolley park chicken, roast foie gras, garden herbs, tomato chutney', but it's so very cold outside, I want comfort and crispy pork fritters wins over.
On the mains, there's beef or lamb as the roast options, as well as sea bass and a vegetarian option (easily dispensed with). It has to be beef today and with a few recent Sunday disappointments in London eateries around this classic roast, it will be interesting to compare.
Taken through reasonably promptly to the dining room itself, appreciated as I was both alone and not drinking anything other than water, the dining room is very much in the style with the manor house theme, and with high ceilings, large windows and light wall paper rather than dark wood paneling, the room is and feels more spacious and airy than some of its manor house peers. Service continues to be impeccable (and friendly), especially from the man whom I assume to be the maitre d'.
The starter arrives, three pig fritters, elegantly done, elegantly presented, pleasing to eat. My experience of pig fritters suggests the two key issues around getting the fritters right are texture, too loose or too dense, and juiciness, with them sometimes overly moist (when it's too loose) but often and otherwise dried out. No complaints here, the pig fritters are excellent and the classic combinations of ingredients on the plate means this was always going to work if the fritters were up to scratch.
I was somewhat tickled to see that the beef is brought to the table on a silver serving trolley and carved in front of you, as it is at the ever endearing Simpsons in the Strand. One seldom sees this nowadays and it is a nice touch for a manor house restaurant on a Sunday, even if it can be a touch inefficient for large tables. Three generous slices of beef were provided alongside a Yorkshire pudding with a plate of veg on the side that included roasties, carrots, peas and cauliflower cheese. The food was good, about in the right proportions, just about enough gravy, so happy enough. The beef, gravy and cauliflower were the standout components, while the roast potatoes and Yorkie were the under performers, both missing the right balance between crispy outside and fluffy inside.
Dessert was more another classic combos with Valrhona chocolate tart and sea salt caramel ice cream, a satisfying enough way to end the meal.
A Sunday roast at a Michelin starred restaurant seems in many ways taking the guide/restaurant out of context and I would be more than happy to eat in the restaurant again for a 'proper' service. It is a lovely venue with lovely staff and spending time here is an easy thing to do. I left happy enough with my time at Lucknam, full, and not massively out of pocket either; if only they had nailed the roasties...
Location Map for Lucknam Park