After a bracing day treading Lake District’s fells, taking in the spectacular beauty of the Coffin Route or stopping to admire the breath-taking panoramas of Wastwater; it is heartening to know that high quality fare and refreshment are in plentiful supply. Here we begin with ten of the top cultural restaurants and cafes in the region, promising cuisine that is second to none with views unparalleled across Cumbria.
Local and seasonal produce is sensitively handled and prepared at the Grasmere Hotel Restaurant to bring out the arresting natural flavours of Cumbrian cuisine. Begin with the home-smoked duck breast with pomegranate seeds and a honey and thyme dressing, before following with the fresh flavour of a sea-bass fillet, or perhaps opt for crisp filo pastry wrapped around stilton, pear and walnuts followed by a supreme of guinea fowl. Served in the chic cream interior of the restaurant, overlooking a classically verdant Cumbrian scene, the Grasmere Hotel restaurant is the ideal place to relax alongside a glass of something crisp from their extensive and carefully considered wine list.
Grasmere Hotel, Broadgate, Grasmere, UK, +44 15394 35277
Guinea Fowl © Kateryna Sednieva / Shutterstock
Old Stamp House
Diner, Restaurant, British
Old Stamp House
The Old Stamp House offers a unique, sumptuous dining experience within the hallowed confines of William Wordsworth’s former workplace, in which the famous poet conducted the role of Distributer of Stamps from 1813-1843. Launched by award-winning chef and Taste Cumbria Ambassador Ryan Blackburn the Old Stamp House shot to fame with impressive speed. The cuisine is deserving of its accolades and created with the utmost attention to the changing local, seasonal produce. Start with a glass of bubbly before choosing from unusual and delicious treats such as deer with red wine spelt and sour black cherries or perhaps the ever-popular tasting menu, offering eight courses per diner with dishes ranging from black pudding bonbons, to herwick hogget with gnocchi, carrot and seasonal vegetables.
Old Stamp House, Church St, Lake District National Park, Ambleside, UK, +44 15394 32775
Porto provides delicious cuisine prepared using the only finest locally sourced ingredients. With a self-professed cooking style of ‘modern British with far reaching influences’, this food manages to combine nostalgia with the exotic. Choose from traditional, rich smoked haddock accented with the luxurious flavour of king scallops or pan-roasted chicken with influence from Italy pervading in the accompanying arancini. For dessert, opt for 3 scoops of local handmade ice-cream or sorbet with a glass of Clos L’Abeilley dessert wine, or perhaps something more decadent, for which the twice baked sticky toffee soufflé fits the bill.
Porto Restaurant, 3 Ash St, Bowness-on-Windermere, Windermere, UK, +44 15394 48242
Cullen skink, typical scottish food with smoked haddock in a pot and bowl on jute © Joerg Beuge / Shutterstock
Owner Michael Gould and Chef Paul White offer delectable, melt-in-the-mouth seafood and fish dishes at Hooked, accented with the flavour intensity of the Mediterranean, South-East Asia and Australia. The skill of the kitchen staff exudes through the dishes, the simple delicacy and flavour of Cornish sardines served with minimal fuss alongside capers and parsley butter, or the saltiness of razor clams served with pancetta, a hit of chilli and garlic butter. For main course, try fish like you’ve never tasted it: swordfish served with peppercorn sauce to rival any steak or, for continental flavour, try red bream on richly flavoured seafood paella.
Hooked, Ellerthwaite Square, Lake District National Park, Windermere, UK, +44 15394 48443
To dine at Atelier is to get an all-round cultural dining experience. Naturally, when a restaurant is named after an alternative term for a workshop or studio, one can expect to find evidence of artistry on the walls as well as in the kitchen. Whilst serving delicately prepared food inspired by the flavours of the Mediterranean, Atelier also sells and displays prints and artwork that complement the dishes and the regions from which they originate. Relax in the quaint village of Ambleside after an exhausting day in the fells with moules marinière served with crusty bread followed by a fillet of succulent seabass with juicy king prawns.
Atelier, Lancaster House/Lake Rd, Ambleside, UK, +44 15394 31156
Roasted seabass and mussels in a dish on vintage wooden table with copy space © Iryna Denysova / Shutterstock
Rattle Gill Café
Cafe, British, Healthy
Rattle Gill Café
No trip to the Lake District is complete without a visit to a traditional tearoom or café and Rattle Gill Café is a great place to start. This is tradition with a twist, everything prepared at Rattle Gill Café is vegetarian, offering insight into the increasingly popular meat-free way of life. Stop for lunch and try the homemade bean chilli with refreshing crème fraiche on the side, or the dipping board with homemade hummus, roasted vegetables, feta, fresh olives and toasted ciabatta. If you’re just popping in for morning coffee and a sweet treat to brace yourself for a day outdoors, why not enjoy a tasting plate of cakes, picking five from the daily offerings of fresh sponges and fruit cakes, scones with jam and cream or homemade flapjacks.
Rattle Gill Café, 2 Bridge St, Ambleside, UK, +44 7841 632621
L’Enclume’s romantic riverside location at Cartmel is food for the soul and provides soulful food to boot. Preferring to veer away from a set menu, although they provide one if preferred, L’Enclume champions a style of cooking that debuts a selection of new dishes individually prepared to suit each table, created using the rapidly changing palette of local and seasonal ingredients on offer in the abundant environment of the Lake District. With a penchant for English wines, the tipples are similarly styled and carefully chosen to complement the rich, natural flavours of the changing dishes. Enjoy the colourful food and exciting flavours in the intimate surroundings of the rustic dining room, with exposed beams married together with contemporary furniture and artwork.
L’Enclume, Cavendish St, Cartmel, Cumbria, UK, +44 15395 36362
Broughton Village Café
Bakery, Cafe, Coffee, Tea , Snacks, Dessert
Broughton Village Café
Broughton Village Bakery and Café comes with an impressive culinary pedigree: one of the top three bakeries in the UK as featured on ITV1’s Britain’s Best Bakery, and in Harper’s Bazaar’s Top Five Bakeries in Britain. The cafe promises the best produce from the bakery to be enjoyed by a wood-burning stove after a day in the country, all served alongside freshly ground organic coffee and tea, frappes, smoothies and hot chocolate. Choose from delicious homemade pies, chillis, beef stews and flaky pasties for lunch, or a traditional ploughman sandwiches with dry cured ham, cheese, pickle and homemade chutney with a selection of their flavoursome, homemade breads. The cakes and tray-bakes are also firm favourites and change daily, always offering a balance of fruity choices and sticky chocolate classics.
Broughton Village Café, Prince’s St, Broughton in Furness, UK, +44 1229 716284
This 2 AA star restaurant at Cedar Manor hotel offers award-winning cuisine in beautiful surroundings overlooking verdant Windermere. Enjoy salmon and beetroot tartar with a cucumber salad and horseradish foam followed by lamb rump in an herb and pine nut crust served with tarragon gnocchi and vegetables. The restaurant itself is decorated with a nod to decadence, featuring statement wallpaper in tasteful sections to complement the stunning views out of the bay windows and the traditional fireplaces dotted throughout the interior.
Cedar Manor, Ambleside Rd, Windermere, UK, +44 15394 4319
Four and Twenty
Restaurant, European, British, Vegetarian, $$$
Four and Twenty
Situated in the quaint market town of Penrith, Four and Twenty offers a contemporary feel with slate gray, statement window frames and multi-coloured chairs, studded leather sofas and an assortment of ornate tables. The eclectic interior design befits the cuisine, a fusion of traditional dishes with unusual flavour combinations. Try the plaice with a fragrant lemon grass sauce, roasted seasonal asparagus and sautéed new potatoes or the more traditional slow-cooked feather blade of beef braised in a hearty local ale.
Four & Twenty, 42 King St, Penrith, UK, +44 1768 210231
© Undivided / Shutterstock