Did you ever have school lunches? Plastic trays, ice cream scoop mash, neon custard. I had them for one term and I remember them vividly. This week I was invited for dinner at an old school with a welcome difference; the food was incredible.
Poaka Beck is the newly relaunched restaurant within Chequers Hotel and lies just a stones throw away from my Parent’s doorstep in Dalton-in-furness. The building, originally build in 1872 as a school is absolutely beautiful, but passing it almost everyday for 24 years, you can imagine I take it for granted.
Inside the restaurant the original school rules are scrawled across a huge chalkboard, pictures of old headmasters make a gallery wall, snippets of history tell tales around the room, the walls are lined with pages of handwriting and fractions. Care for a wine list? They’re just hanging on clipboards from the coat pegs.
The decor is absolutely perfect for it’s theme. Right down to the lights and the old fashioned bulbs that over hang each table.
With only 44 covers, there’s a real cosy atmosphere and we felt exceptionally well looked after by the staff. The manager told me that he’d put together the playlist for the evening himself, but the room buzzed so much with conversation about the food and decor that it was just a layer amongst it.
The sommelier came around table by table to talk to us about the wines on offer and help us to choose something special.
We began with Lakeland sushi, which I thought was a surprising choice of appetiser, but I won’t question the chefs, they were great.
My starter, wild mushroom bruschetta with chilli and garlic was perfect. Sami, the friend that was dining with me, had this beauty laid down in front of her. Scotch quails egg, streaky bacon, black pudding and apple.
Sami had lamb noisette as her main with sweet potato mash and a red wine jus.
I chose pan fried sea bass infused with chilli, garlic and ginger with a saffron sauce:
My main was absolutely delicious. The sea bass was delicately spiced but all in perfect balance. I’d pick this off the menu again and again.
Dessert arrived, a Cumbrian classic. Sticky toffee pudding with thunder and lightening ice cream. I’m not a dessert lover, but this was the most incredible pillowy soft sticky toffee pudding I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. I swear we talked about how amazing this was for a good ten minutes:
You can imagine we were getting full by now but out came the cheese boards, coffees and then tiny chocolate cups with a mint mousse. They were the perfect ending to a fantastic meal.
The chefs came up to greet us, met by huge applause from extremely full and happy diners. The best school dinner we’ve ever had.
As the restaurant quietened down, we finally got to hear the babble of the fountain that runs down a sheet of glass in the centre of the room. See, Poaka Beck is named after the beck that once ran in front of the school so incorporating water in to the design was a no brainer and it’s so relaxing!
If you’re ever in my local area, I highly recommend a trip to Poaka Beck. For bookings, call 01229 462124 or catch them on twitter here. Personally, I think the best table in the house is just behind the water fall, or if that’s booked, which there’s a good chance of, go for one under the dormer windows so you can watch the light change outside as the sun starts to set.