The top twenty places to eat out in the Lake District
PUBLISHED: 00:00 18 March 2015 | UPDATED: 11:28 07 January 2016
It is no secret that the Lake District has some of the best places to eat, from Michelin-standard food to simple dishes that showcase the region's top local produce. Here is our insider's guide to just a few of Lakeland's finest
The experimental gastronomy that first put Simon Rogan’s famous Cartmel restaurant on the map has been leavened a menu driven by seasonal and local produce, many of which sourced from Rogan’s own farm. The menus are dictated by the produce available . L’Enclume has won many accolades since it first opened its doors, has achieved Michelin star status and has consistently been voted one of the best restaurants in the country. Boring it isn’t.
L’Enclume, Cavendish Street, Cartmel, LA11 6PZ. Tel: 015395 36362
The Samling, Windermere
When Ian Swainson joined the Samling as head chef it was if the local football team had signed the country’s hottest young striker.
Little did they know he would find the net so quickly. Not only has the hotel been named the best dining hotel in the world at the Boutique Hotel Awards but it reclaimed a Michelin star in the 2014 Good Food Guide. The high levels of cuisine creativity that won the favour of the Michelin judges, and the many diners who flock to the Windermere mainstay clearly agree that this is one of the finest restaurants around.
The Samling, Ambleside Road, Windermere, LA23 1LR, 01539 431922
Another Lake District legend, wowing guests since 1949 and producing exceptional food in its Michelin-starred restaurant. This establishment, below left, with its wonderful setting overlooking Ullswater, claims to have been Britain’s first country house hotel. The kitchen is also famous for its afternoon teas and the magnificent dining room has produced some of the great desserts in the culinary cannon. The awards are almost as long as the wine list – and that runs to more than 700!
Sharrow Bay, Lake Ullswater, Penrith, CA10 2LZ. Tel: 01768 486301
One of the top dogs in the Lakes dining scene, Holbeck Ghyll, above, and its head chef David McLaughlin have been proud holders of a Michelin star for 12 consecutive years. This lovely Edwardian house features regularly in the Lancashire Life Food & Drink Awards for such delights as Rillette of Rabbit with Crostini and Truffle Cream and Roasted Wild Turbot with Crisp Boneless Oxtail. Also famous for guests such as Renee Zellweger, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.
Holbeck Ghyll, Holbeck Lane, Windermere. LA23 1LU, Tel: 015394 32375
This is not just a fine old inn, it also produces some exquisite meals. Another Lancashire Life award winner, it sources its food locally whenever possible and the kitchen team knows the provenance of the meat and the sustainability of the fish. Lunchtime sandwiches are sumptuous but evening meals are something else. They can start with lambs tongue, goats curds, courgette and tomato, followed by lamb rump, champ mashed potato with cockles, peas and broad beans and finish with a passion fruit soufflé. A delight.
The Drunken Duck Inn, Barngates, Ambleside, LA22 0NG. Tel: 015394 36347
The Jumble Room
This Bohemian-style restaurant is a firm favourite with foodies visiting Grasmere. It has to be one of England’s most relaxing restaurants with one of the warmest welcomes. The husband and wife team have a motto – prepared with love and served with pride. The menu takes you on a journey through Provencal fish soup, Hindle Wakes chicken and Pavlova with rhubarb. Music plays a big part in the atmosphere – even the toilet walls are decorated with album covers.
The Jumble Room, Langdale Road, Grasmere, LA22 9SU. Tel: 01539 35188.
Cottage in the Wood
This 17th century coaching inn is situated in the heart of the Whinlatter Forest, five miles from Keswick. Since taking on the persona of the restaurant with rooms it has received rave reviews from the serious national media. The approach is to use the best ingredients and combine them to create ‘intriguing and original’ food. Expect to find the likes of west coast brown crab, breast of spring lamb, charred mackerel, wild salmon and braised cheek of beef.
The Cottage in the Wood, Whinlatter Forest, Braithwaite, Near Keswick, CA12 5TWTel: 017687 78409
Dragon’s Den star and businessman Duncan Bannatyne has given this lovely venue, down a quaint cobbled street, the thumbs up. The fine dining restaurant, above, which serves up food from across Europe, is owned by former dancer Faye Ramsay. The 26-year-old has recruited a talented kitchen team lead by head chef David Bewick, who has worked with Gordon Ramsey and Nigel Haworth.
Porto Restaurant, Ash Street, Bowness, LA23 3EB. Tel: 015394 48242
The Brown Horse Inn
Owners Steve and Karen Edmondson have taken the Brown Horse Inn from strength to strength. Thebusiness rears animals and grows produce served in the restaurant, below, with a rustic French-influened interior, and the bar, the ideal country inn. Time critic Giles Coren raved about the steaks. If you just fancy a drink try one of the ales produced by the on-site microbrewery.
The Brown Horse Inn, Sunny Bank Road, Winster, 015394 43443
Baba Ganoush, Kendal
This unassuming canteen and food deli is a delight. It’s not somewhere you go for fine dining, and nor would the owners like it to be. Billing themselves as a daytime eatery – definitely not a restaurant - you can see the cooks toiling in the open kitchen. producing vegetarian mezze boards- one of the owners is a veggie – and slow-roasted meat dishes to simple staples of eggy bread and bacon rolls.
Baba Ganoush, Berry’s Yard, Finkle Street, Kendal, LA9 4AB. Tel: 01539 738210
Gilpin Lodge Country House Hotel
The Cunliffe family, who have been at Gilpin Lodge for 25 years, have worked hard to establish this beautiful hotel as another of the Lake District’s heavyweights. This extends to the excellent dining experience they offer. Voted the best in England by the AA and Visit England, the hotel has one restaurant with four dining rooms each with their own distinct character. The food is outstanding.
Gilpin Lodge Country House Hotel, Crook Road, Windermere, LA23 3NE. Tel: 015394 88818
Doug Gillam is continuing his family’s tradition providing fine food to the town at his tea room, Gillam’s. It was set up in 1892 by John James Gillam, Doug’s great great grandfather. The business closed for a period then 37-year-old Doug left a career in a band to pick up where his family had left off. Traditional charm with a menu packed with tea room treats. Next door is Gillam’s grocers selling specialist and local produce.
Gillam’s, Market Street, Ulverston, LA12 7LT. Tel: 01229 587564
Rothay Garden Hotel
The two AA Rosette Garden Restaurant in Grasmere’s historic and recently redeveloped Rothay Garden Hotel has been expertly managed by head chef Andrew Burton for more than two decades. Andrew, who previously worked at London’s Berkeley, Connaught and Savoy hotels, leads a talented kitchen team who showcase the wealth of produce available in the local area. You’ll fine Lakeland lamb, salmon, handmade cheese and home cured meats.
Rothan Garden Hotel, Broadgate, Grasmere, LA22 9RJ. Tel: 015394 35334
The Strickland Arms
There is little wonder this charming country inn has been recommended in Michelin Pub Guide, Good Pub Guide and Good Beer Guide for many years. In the shadows of Sizergh Castle, The Strickland Arms has a great reputation for its expertly prepared food and a warm welcome. In summer, sit outside. In winter, there are roaring log fires and candlelit tables.
The Strickland Arms, Sizergh, LA8 8DZ. Tel: 015395 61010
The Wild Boar Inn
Head chef Marc Saunders has created a classic British grill menu using local food as well as making interesting dishes using the inn’s famous smokehouse, the first Lake District restaurant to have one. Watch the kitchen team at work or take a seat at the Chef’s Table for the best view. You can also choose from some great real ales, a tipple from the Wild Boar’s extensive wine cellar or from more than 50 whiskies.
The Wild Boar, pictured above, also has fantastic views of the Gilpin Valley.
The Wild Boar Inn, Crook Road, Crook, LA23 3NF. Tel: 015394 45225
A new arrival on the Lake District’s dining and luxury hotel scene is this delightful Grasmere establishment, pioctured below, owned by Amanda and Mark Brady. Like many establishments local produce forms a large part of the menu, as does food in season. Diners can choose from The Walkers’ Bar, offering a more casual eating experience, The Dining Room, a lovely restaurant with lake views or private dining.
Daffodil Hotel, Keswick Road, Grasmere, LA22 9PR. Tel: 015394 63550
The Masons Arms
The setting, on Cartmell Fell overlooking the spectacular Winster and Lyth Valleys, ancient beams, flagged floors and old fireplaces make this a dream pub. The atmosphere - the award-winning pub often buzzing with as many locals as tourists - and the excellent food seals the deal. Expect local treats like Lakeland damson and pork sausage, local game and Cartmel lamb shank.
The Masons Arms, Strawberry Bank, Cartmell Fell, Grange over Sands, LA11 6NW. Tel: 015395 68486
Fat Olives Brasserie
This café by day but brasserie restaurant by night has become a popular mainstay for visitors to Bowness. Offering English and Mediterranean food, it is an ideal place to watch the world go by as you dine, see the chefs prepare your food or browse the art work by local Jeni Calvert. Wines are sourced from small, independent vineyards.
Fat Olives Brasserie, Lake Road, Bowness, LA23 3BJ. Tel: 015394 47447
Lucy 4 Wine Bar and Bistro
This restaurant prides itself on its informal approach. The tapas-style food, including feta polpettes and coconut mussels, are a winner with regular visitors to the Ambleside venue. There’s also an extensive wine list.
Lucy 4 Wine Bar and Bistro, Saint Mary’s Lane, Ambleside, LA22 9DG. Tel: 015394 34666
The Punch Bowl Inn
A former Cumbria Young Chef of the Year winner Scott Fairweather heads up the kitchens. As you would expect local producers have a strong presence on the menu including damson from the Lyth Valley, bread from More! Bakery and Cumbrian lamb.
The Punch Bowl Inn, Crosthwaite, Lyth Valley, LA8 8HR. Tel: 015395 68237