It may come as no surprise that the fine dining scene in Cumbria is dominated by restaurants in the Lake District and what better setting for a gastronomic feast.
There’s nothing quite like donning a smart outfit, complete with your best bag and heading out for a treat and for many of us this means fine food and maybe a little fine wine. And while cities like London and Manchester provide the greatest choice, they lack the peace and stunning landscapes that are to be found in the newly crowned World Heritage site.
Here you will find some outstanding restaurants, many of which specialise in using local meat and produce to craft dishes that are simply out of this world. Here we look at 4 of Cumbria’s finest dining establishments.
The Forest Side, Grasmere
Kevin Tickle is head chef at the Forest Side restaurant and is also an ambassador for Chapman Bags.
Kevin’s commitment to foraging (with his Chapman foraging bag) and to sourcing only the finest local ingredients are part of the secret to the stunning flavours and beautiful presentation of his dishes. A sample from the evening menu may include venison pastrami, smoked juniper yoghurt, swede, cais na tire and ranson capers.
Kevin was awarded a Michelin star just 9 months after taking over at The Forest Side in 2016. The hard work put into the menu really shines through, when served each dish looks flawless, has an effortless radiance and most importantly tastes divine.
The restaurant is housed in a grand Lakeland mansion, surrounded by natural beauty and provides the perfect setting for fine dining.
L’Enclume in its picturesque riverside setting is the only restaurant in the Lake District to have been awarded 2 Michelin stars and is run by Head Chef Simon Rogan.
A 12-acre kitchen garden provides the majority of fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers used in Rogan’s recipes, and feature on the 2 tasting menus, an 8 and 12 course menu, one of which is vegetarian and both are world-class.
L’Enclume used to be the village forge hence the name – the anvil. Now the interior has white washed walls and houses dark wooden tables on to which are served dainty and exquisite portions of heaven on a plate. Raw scallops, pea with calamint, goosnargh duck with cherries and smoked beetroot and blueberry, buttermilk and oats from the dinner menu give a glimpse of what may be in store – fantastic.
Hrishi at the Gilpin Spice, Windermere
Renamed and holding 1 Michelin star Hrishi takes locally sourced ingredients and magically transforms them into something you would expect to find in the palaces of India and the Far East.
Inspired by the spice trail leading from India to Japan the Hrishi menu is filled with exotic haute cuisine; ceviche of Kyle of Lochalsh scallops, chilli glazed poached lobster and peanut butter semifreddo, offer an insight into the Gilpin’s delights.
Originally a Georgian country house, the Gilpin is home to Hrishi and an informal restaurant, plus guest rooms. In the grounds of the house modern design is juxtaposed with the period building in the form of garden suites and spa lodges.
The Drunken Duck, Ambleside
For a more rustic experience and a great pint of beer, the Drunken Duck in the heart of Cumbria and the Lake District, provides the solution.
Despite the arrival of several “new kids on the block” the Duck remains as popular as ever among the bon vivant and serves up exceptionally good food. Snippets from the menu include; soused mackerel and a tomato salad with a buttermilk dressing to start, beef cheek, artichoke, spring onion and rocket pesto for a main and for pudding, a melting chocolate tarte with raspberry sorbet – delicious.
The Barngates Brewery, situated on site, is another wonderful strand to the Drunken Duck experience. Its award winning ale is showcased in the bar and is a standalone success.
All the restaurants are also hotels and so, should you require accommodation, are well worth considering. Alternatively, you could really push the boat out and book one of the luxury holiday cottages offered by Lakelovers Gold, a new and exclusive collection of some of the UK’s most beautiful properties.
Fine dining has become one of Cumbria’s most respected attractions and for food lovers, one that should be celebrated – bon appetite!
Image © Forest Side ‘Line caught Halibut’