Lake District’s Best Restaurants for Great Local Food
You’ll find plenty of excellent restaurants and cafés in the Lake District | © Nella / Shutterstock
After a bracing day treading Lake District’s fells, taking in the spectacular beauty of the Coffin Route or stopping to admire the breathtaking panoramas of Wastwater, it is heartening to know that high-quality fare and refreshment are in plentiful supply. The restaurants and cafés here are first-class, and promise cuisine that is second to none with views unparalleled across Cumbria.
The Grasmere Hotel
Local and seasonal produce is sensitively handled and prepared at The Grasmere Hotel’s 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, this spot is the ideal place to relax and enjoy god food.
The Old Stamp House Restaurant
Diner, Restaurant, British
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.
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 three 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.
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, Southeast Asia and Australia. The skill of the kitchen staff exudes through the dishes, with highlights including Cornish sardines served alongside capers and parsley butter, and razor clams 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.
The Rattle Ghyll
Cafe, British, Healthy
No trip to the Lake District is complete without a visit to a traditional tearoom or café and The Rattle Ghyll is a great place to start. This is tradition with a twist: everything prepared at The Rattle Ghyll is vegetarian. Stop for lunch and try the bean chilli with refreshing crème fraiche on the side or the dipping board with home-made 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 flapjacks.
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 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.
Broughton Village Café
Bakery, Cafe, Coffee, Tea , Snacks, Dessert
Broughton Village Bakery 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 café 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 home-made pies, chillies, beef stews and flaky pasties for lunch, or a traditional ploughman sandwiches with dry-cured ham, cheese, pickle and chutney with a selection of flavoursome breads. The cakes and tray bakes are also firm favourites and change daily, always offering a balance of fruity choices and sticky chocolate classics.
Cedar Manor Hotel
Hotel Restaurant, Restaurant, Contemporary
This two-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.
Four and Twenty
Restaurant, European, British, Vegetarian, $$$
Situated in the quaint market town of Penrith, Four and Twenty offers a contemporary feel with 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 lemongrass sauce, roasted seasonal asparagus and sautéed new potatoes or the more traditional slow-cooked feather blade of beef braised in a hearty local ale.