When two Michelin starred L’Enclume chef Simon Rogan took over his local, the Pig & Whistle, in Cartmel there were immediate hopes that it would quickly establish itself as The Hind’s Head or Hand & Flowers (see here) of the North… for this, there is still time.
Located on the edge of the village in a quaint stone building, I could go into detail about the traditional features of beams, rough plastered walls and open fireplaces and comment on the décor with its neutral paint job and carpets but the @CartmelPiggy Twitter account, sums all this up much more succinctly as a… ‘Cute little boozer in Cartmel, serving great food and fine ales’.
There are various etymological and eggcorn explanations for its porcinely musical name, some suggesting that ‘Pig’ could have originally referred to ‘pegs’ of old fashioned drinking vessels designed for sharing or earthenware pitchers known as ‘pigs’.
‘Whistle’, it seems, may have its roots in the Old Norse salutation ‘ves heill’ which became the traditional toast ‘Wassail!’ calling drinkers to 'be you healthy!'
I visited L’Enclume a couple of weeks after Simon acquired ‘The Piggy’ and asked him what he had planned foodwise. 'Oh, just pies and stuff like that.' came his reply.
Whilst searching for the right chef to push things forward at The Piggy, Simon has kept himself fairly busy - L’Enclume received its second star (here); Rogan & Co retained its 3 AA rosettes (here); the farm operation has expanded over five sites and he has opened the magnificent The French by Simon Rogan, in Manchester (here).
Simon now believes he has the right team in place – new head chef David Hawkins comes with an impressive CV, having headed up kitchens at the award winning The White Oak in Cookham and The Crown in Amersham.
To start I had, Potted Morecambe Shrimp – fished in the famous bay just a few miles away, this was a delicious take on the classic potted shrimps. It was tastily spiced with five spice and fresh herbs (I could’ve done with another of the delicious multi seeded toasts.)
As I arrived, one of the two friendly young lads behind the bar was just changing the menu to include a new Lamb Hot Pot – with purple sprouting broccoli and delightfully chunky carrots. With a generous amount of tasty lamb it was both was homely and tasty.
For dessert, the Blood orange Posset tempted but I decided to go ‘local’ with the Sticky toffee & banana pudding with spiced toffee sauce. I heard that there have been a couple of slight grumblings from sticky toffee purist about the unconventional addition of banana. Not a purist, I was as happy as a pig in…
It’s still early days at The Pig & Whistle under its new owner and head chef, but I’m certain things will continue to grow from strength to strength… “Wassail!”