Although I’m quite well-travelled (fifty two countries and counting), to my shame I’ve hardly been anywhere in my own country, the Lake District being a case in point. My father tells me we came on a family holiday when I was ten but that it was a soggy affair as it rained all the time. The weather wasn’t much different on this one night visit in late July 2016 when I was up in Windermere for work, but I didn’t mind, I was happy just to be there, even fleetingly.
Here’s my Google map with a few other hotels and restaurants recommended by guides and friends.
Lake Road Kitchen (Advanced B+), Lake Road, Ambleside, www.lakeroadkitchen.co.uk
This excellent restaurant was recommended by Alex Shaw an award winning chef friend of mine and it also features in the 100 Best Places to Eat in the UK list.
They are known for their obsession with sourcing quality ingredients, which includes growing their own and foraging in the Cumbrian countryside.
It was a bit quiet on the Sunday I went so I got a lot of attention from the friendly chef (owner?) as I was seated right next to the pass. I think he’d worked out I was a blogger so he regaled me with the backstories of a lot of his ingredients. It was fascinating but I was too tired from work to fully retain all the wisdom he passed on.
I began with a Negroni which was pretty decent (B+) although I was later scandalised to find out it cost £15!
On the positive side it was made with an unusual vermouth from Turin (the home of vermouth) called Mancini which I hadn’t tried before.
I had the eight-course tasting menu for £90. It began with the Braised Hereford Snails with LRK Miso, Parsley and Chickweed which looked suitably slimy but also managed to taste very good (B+).
This was matched with a 2013 Domaine Du Daley, Le Chasselas Selection, Villette Grand Cru from Vaud in Switzerland (B).
Next the LRK Garden Salad, plucked from their own garden, was lovely and fresh (A).
I loved the Tempura Courgette Flower that came with it as well (A).
The 2013 Albourne Estate Bacchus from West Susex, England, went well with this (B+). It had a fantastic nose and showed once more that you can get decent wine from England. I must try and get some. [2019 note, just looked at their website www.albourneestate.co.uk and the 2017 was going for £15 but sold out really quickly].
I really enjoyed the Monkfish Cheeks, Charred Spring Onion, Chicken & Herb Stew (B+).
The 2013 Valpolicella Classico Velluto Meroni from Veneto that went with the cheeks was fine (B).
My favourite dish was the Cumbrian Milk Fed Veal, Stew of Summer Legumes which had fantastic green flavours (A).
This was paired with a glass of 2012 Domaine A et P de Villaine, Mercurey Les Montots from Cote Chalonnaise, France (B).
I also loved the Lemon Verbena Tart, Buckwheat Pastry, Alpine Strawverries and Wild Strawberry Sauce (A). My photo was too blurry sorry but I can assure you it was beautifully presented.
This went well with the 2012 Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, Delas Freres from the Rhone Valley in France (B+).
Finally I was given an extra dessert of Tayberries, Salmonberry Sauce, Rose Granita (A). I’d never had these berries before which isn’t surprising as they have a very short season and the chefs had to wade along the river banks to pick them.
The Lake District generally is quite expensive and this restaurant was no exception. However I admire their dedication and the efforts they go to in order to procure the finest, freshest local ingredients. Definitely somewhere I’d recommend you go to if you’re in the area and want to treat yourself.