A Spotlight on Levens Kitchen August 06 2020
Where is it?
In quite simply one of the most picturesque settings you could imagine – in a new purpose- built, architecturally stunning space within the grounds of the Elizabethan House, Levens Hall alongside the world-famous topiary gardens. Levens Hall is located at the gateway to the Lake District National Park on the edge of the popular town of Kendal and just five minutes from junction 36 of the M6.
How long has it been there?
The House and the Gardens date back to the 13th century and the 1690s respectively, but the new Levens Kitchen opened in March 2019.
Who’s in charge?
The Bagot family have been at Levens Hall since the late 19th century and Richard & Naomi Bagot were the driving force behind the Levens Kitchen project.
What’s the vibe?
Well if you’re expecting history with more than an air of Downton Abbey, prepare to be ever so slightly surprised. Richard & Naomi have fused some historic house design features – sandstone mullion windows, slate roof, lead gutters – with a modern dining venue to create more of a welcoming bistro vibe than a traditional café. High ceilings, oak trusses, and lots of windows create a bright, open ambience, which lends itself to being naturally lit throughout the day and the outside captures the sun in the afternoons. Pardon the obvious coffee pun but it’s really quite a beautiful blend! Outside in the pretty courtyard, there’s more tables and plenty of bench seating for al fresco dining.
Who goes there?
As a big part of the community for many years, Levens Kitchen attracts a solid local crowd. Local customers visit at least once or twice a week and pre-lockdown; one lady was even coming in every single day. Under normal circumstances, Levens Hall is popular with American, Dutch, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese groups.
What’s the food like?
The dedicated and hugely talented chef, Robert Stacey heads up a small but perfectly formed kitchen team who produce fresh homemade dishes using produce that comes from the estate direct to the plate. Many customers like to finish off a walk around the gardens with a Cream Tea of homebaked fruit scone, jam and clotted cream and freshly brewed cup of Carvetii tea. At lunchtimes, inventive salads are popular with Levens Kitchen’s very own cold smoked salmon with soft boiled egg, buttermilk dressing and parmesan being a new summer favourite. Pre-Covid popular supper clubs were taking place once a month and were always fully subscribed.
What cake should we order?
Now there’s the million dollar question! For a total sugar rush, the salted caramel and apple doughnuts sell out faster than they can post them on Instagram and the Victoria sponge style round cake selection is growing all the time. There’s also plenty of gluten free options such as chocolate & hazelnut brownies and the nutty protein bars go down well with cyclists stopping off to refuel.
And washed down with..?
The website says, ‘perfect coffee in an historic setting’ and who are we to argue? Choose between a Carvetii single origin batch brew filter or a latte, cappuccino, flat white, espresso or macchiato all made with a double shot Carvetii espresso. A range of Carvetii herbal teas are also available and Levens Kitchen is licensed for wine, beer and cider enhancing that bistro feel.
Why Carvetii Coffee?
Richard’s a massive coffee drinker and coffee was one of his passions going into the opening of Levens Kitchen. They researched a lot of coffee roasters and were very taken with Gareth who encouraged them to visit the Carvetii roastery at Threlkeld to see the whole operation and meet the team. It’s surely no coincidence that Richard’s two other places to visit for the best coffee in Cumbria (after Levens Kitchen of course!) are Homeground in Windermere and Yard 46 in Kendal – both supplied by Carvetii.
What do people say about Levens Kitchen?
Levens Kitchen has very quickly become a firm favourite with the local market as well as visitors to Levens Hall. Plaudits are regularly given to Richard & Naomi for blending a beautiful new space into such an iconic historic house and garden. Levens Kitchen has raised the bar when it comes to delicious, well presented food crafted from produce often grown on site and friendly, efficient front of house service.
Any interesting facts about Levens Kitchen?
Levens Kitchen was the first new building at Levens Hall in over 300 years. It was also voted ‘Cumbria’s Best Newcomer’ at the 2020 Cumbria Life Food & Drink Awards. Judges loved the food, service and the overall ambience in an amazing space.
What should people do in and around Levens?
Just a few minutes up the road from Levens Hall, you’ll find Low Sizergh Barn Shop, which stocks a large range of local produce from some of the area’s talented artisan producers (including Carvetii Coffee!). There’s also a farm trail and café where large gallery windows give a birds’ eye view of the cows being milked every afternoon at 3.30pm. For the kids, the Lakeland Maze is close by with tractor rides, a maize maze, and lots of animals to meet. There are also some great family walks nearby; from Levens Deer Park opposite Levens Hall to leisurely strolls along Grange-over-Sands’ impressive promenade looking out over Morecambe Bay. For panoramic Lakeland views, Scout Scar just west of Kendal, gives maximum rewards for fairly minimum effort.
Levens Kitchen is adorned with framed photos of old postcards of Levens – some of which are over 100 years old. Richard & Naomi actually found and collected them – plus dozens of things to do with Levens Hall – on eBay!
What Levens Kitchen say about us…
“We always enjoy working with the Carvetii team. They helped hugely with the business and we were given amazing advice, which we always followed. They not only knew about coffee, they knew all about the business side too, which was very reassuring for us. Everything from margins and pricing to setting up the bar area. They told us how important it was to invest in a good quality machine to elevate the quality of our coffee offering and where exactly to place the machine – a Victoria Arduino White Eagle – to ensure maximum efficiency and customer interaction. We’re also far more dedicated to finding a decent cup of coffee since we met Gareth – we don’t just settle for anything now & can’t remember the last time we bought one at a service station! We actually hate Friday’s because the restaurant is closed so we feel both coffeeless and unloved!”
What customers say about Levens Kitchen…
What a wonderful restaurant or to give it it’s true name, Levens Kitchen. The build, architecture, walls, materials are sympathetic to its surroundings and when you walk in it has a bright airy feel. We were welcomed by a friendly waitress who gave us a choice of tables showed us to our chosen one and left us to settle and peruse the menu. It was when we saw the menu that John suggested we have lunch and I’m so glad he did because the food was absolutely delicious, freshly cooked.
My wife and I had lunch here last week and it was outstanding. The food, clearly prepared to order and using the freshest ingredients, was absolutely delicious. The waiting staff could not have been more helpful and the cakes, according to my wife, were to die for! It is so nice to find somewhere where the quality of the ingredients used and how it is cooked and served are obviously important to them.
Kid in a sweetshop syndrome kicks in here!!!!! If you’re wanting something different cooked to perfection and expertly presented, then you’ll want to reserve a table forever.
All of the food we ate was extremely tasty and I for one have to applaud them for trying something different and new from your usual stately home cafe and for me it’s very welcomed. If all places equal to Levens invested in their cafes as much as what you have done, then it would be a great ending to any visit.
Imaginative menu, not badly priced. Super scones, cakes and coffee.
Smart, helpful staff. Lovely setting (obviously).
The Kitchen must be hitting other local eateries hard – it’s excellent.
Levens Kitchen is open Sunday-Thursday: 10am-4pm
Levens Kitchen, Levens Hall, Kendal, Cumbria, LA8 0PD. T: 015395 60321
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