Carre Arms Hotel, Sleaford
Caroline Bingham visited the Carre Arms Hotel, Sleaford, where the Cunago family have recently introduced an all day menu which offers fine dining, when it suits you.
Many hotels, pubs and restaurants in the county still stick to a very rigid timescale of only serving lunch between 12noon and 2pm. I have lost count of how many times I have arrived somewhere only to be told the last food order is 1.45pm or 1.30pm or the chef has gone home so it was very refreshing to hear that the Carre Arms Hotel has decided to introduce an all day menu, served from 12noon to 9.30pm, seven days a week to give their customers complete flexibility of dining when it suits them.
The Carre Arms Hotel, has been under the ownership of the Cunago family for over twenty-five years and Lisa Cunago puts all her care and passion into looking after the hotel and its guests. She is ably supported by her parents, Paco and Jeanne and a dedicated team of staff.
As well as its popular bar, the hotel is an attractive venue for weddings and special occasions as well as offering conference and banqueting facilities. When we arrived we were shown into the covered courtyard which is at the centre of the Edwardian building and used to be the carriage and stabling yard. It was flooded with sun and we couldn’t help but admire the glass roof and the magnificent displays of potted geraniums, hanging baskets and flower boxes that are tended by Jeanne Cunago.
We both had a drink while we looked through the all day menu. There was a choice of à la carte or a table d’hote menu priced at £15.75 for two courses and coffee. We decided to choose from the à la carte menu which had a choice of seven starters and ten main courses.
I liked the choice of fish and was torn between the pan fried scallops on Lincolnshire black pudding with crispy bacon and mustard sauce or the lobster and crayfish ‘Tian’ on a bed of dressed baby leaves. The lobster won and my very generous portion was crammed with plump meaty chunks. I paused only to taste my companion’s chicken liver and brandy pate served with Cumberland sauce and toasted homemade bread. The bread is made fresh, twice daily on the premises and I tried both the wholemeal platt and the white, cheese topped loaf which were both warm when they arrived at our table. We both agreed that our starters would also have made a very satisfactory light lunch option in their own right.
For our main course we chose grilled Lincolnshire sirloin with a Bearnaise sauce for my fellow diner and I had the pancetta wrapped sea bass fillet, on lemon mash with saffron mussel cream and cabbage ‘seaweed’. Both dishes were very attractively presented, especially the fish and dark mussel shells contrasting with the vibrant colour of the saffron sauce.
The sauce was light and did not overpower the fish and the hint of lemon in the mash refreshed the palate. The portion was very generous and I could not quite finish my meal as I was determined to try one of the homemade desserts. My companion commented on the flavour of his steak and its tenderness. He had been asked how he would like it served and it came cooked to perfection. He didn’t quite manage to finish his portion either so be ready for this generosity on the plate.
My companion settled for a double espresso to follow while I opted for a crème caramel with caramel oranges. This dessert was one of five on the menu as well as a superb cheese board which offered a selection of up to ten cheeses, some local and others continental.
My dessert was as pretty as a picture and a very nostalgic dessert. Homemade crème caramel is comfort food I remember from my childhood with the added zest of the fresh orange, caramelised rounds. I finished my meal with a cappuccino.
The Carre Arms Hotel can boast accomplished chefs and kitchen that are committed to serving this calibre of food throughout the day. In addition there is an extensive bar menu so the variety and flexibility of eating options means it would be hard to imagine all tastes and appetites could not be accommodated.
The Cunagos work hard to maintain the quality of the hotel which was built by the owner of the Bass Maltings to entertain his guests and they offer thirteen en-suite rooms.
Whatever time of the day you choose to visit, one thing you can be sure, the chef will not have gone home and you have the opportunity for nine and a half hours every day to sample this menu. Bon Appetit!