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Two-Michelin-starred L’Enclume in Cartmel — chef Simon Rogan’s flagship restaurant is one of the best places to eat in the Lake District
Roast lamb, grilled lettuce, and a crumpet
L’Enclume [Official Photo]

Where to Eat in the Lake District

Michelin-starred dining and much more in the beautiful land of William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter

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Roast lamb, grilled lettuce, and a crumpet
| L’Enclume [Official Photo]

World heritage status for the Lake District last year (2017) confirmed what many people had long felt: this is a special part of England, long defined by its lakes and fells, famed for its association with William Wordsworth, John Ruskin, and Beatrix Potter.

In the last few years the Lake District has also earned another distinction, that of a destination for those who love and appreciate good food.

Top restaurants (four with Michelin stars), great pubs in wonderful locations, award-winning food and drink producers (some 40 small breweries, for instance), and a wealth of farm shops has enriched a landscape which has been celebrated for well over 200 years.

By train:
From Euston to Oxenholme The Lake District: average journey time — 2 hours, 38 minutes; return ticket (off peak) £103.

From Euston to Penrith (North Lakes): average journey time — 3 hours; return ticket (off peak) £107.

By car:
Via M40 and M6 — 4 hours 50 minutes – 6 hours 30 minutes (298 miles).

Christian Dymond has been a freelance writer for over 20 years. He’s the author of four editions of Dymond Guides to Cumbria, including a cultural guide and a food and drink guide. He has also written for The Times, The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Financial Times. His online Lake District travel guide can be found here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Craig's Kitchen at Virginia House

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24 Queen St
Ulverston LA12 7AF, UK

Craig Sherrington got four perfect tens from judges in the final of BBC’s Great British Menu 2018 but narrowly missed out on victory. His four-course GBM menu is being served for several months at this restaurant-with-rooms and gin bar. A small-plate tasting menu and an à la carte brasserie menu are offered too. For the fish course, In It for the Long Trawl (awarded 10/10): ‘head to’ Morecambe Bay for seared mackerel, pickled cockles, brown shrimps, and samphire. For the main course, A Sense of Occasion: tuck into salt-aged fillet of Penny Bridge Dexter beef, with pithivier of shin beef and ceps, British truffle, and truffle oil.

Craig’s Kitchen at Virginia House
“In It For The Long Trawl.” Seared mackerel, pickled cockles, brown shrimps, samphire, brown shrimp butter, oyster leaf gel, lemon gel, sea herbs, shellfish emulsion / foam, parched peas, sea rosemary, rock samphire, and oyster leaf flowers. 
Craig’s Kitchen at Virginia House [Official Photo]

2. The Jumble Room

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Langdale Road, Grasmere
Ambleside LA22 9SU, UK

Take a food tour of the world while dining in Grasmere’s joyful and quirky Jumble Room, Andy and Chrissy Hill’s restaurant which they opened in 1996 in what was once a junk room. For mains they offer the likes of siomai dim sum parcels, filled with pork and Morecambe bay shrimps (with a touch of ginger); local lamb rump, rubbed in rose harissa and Persian spices; and Malayan seafood curry, with chunks of fresh fish and Madagascan black tiger prawns, coddled in the restaurant’s spiced Asian broth. Back to Britain for good old fish and chips, a big favourite. 

Check out the large paintings downstairs, the jazz photographs upstairs and the album covers in the loos. And for luxury in the Lakes, try the couple’s B&B called Randy Pike (www.randypike.co.uk).

The Jumble Room
The Jumble Room [Official Photo]

3. The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop

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Church Cottage, Grasmere
Ambleside LA22 9SW, UK

A cross between a biscuit and a cake, pale and crumbly in appearance but chewy on the inside, the gingerbread is made to the same recipe which Grasmere cook Sarah Nelson used in 1854 when she first opened her shop to locals and visitors. Only sold here and online, it’s one of those foods — along with Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding (www.cartmelvillageshop.co.uk), traditional Cumberland sausage, Herdwick lamb, and damsons from the Lyth and Winster valleys — that have become almost as familiar as the names of Windermere, Derwentwater, Helvellyn, and Scafell Pike. 

4. The Forest Side Hotel

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Grasmere
Ambleside LA22 9RN, UK

The wonderful kitchen garden gives a great sense of the food ambition at Forest Side where the restaurant received a Michelin star within a year of the hotel opening in 2016. Cumbria’s writ large on the menu, with even the names — the Bait Menu (three courses), the La’al ‘Un (six courses) and the Grand ‘Un (ten courses) rather giving the game away. Head chef is keen forager, Kevin Tickle (once of L’Enclume) and behind the scenes there’s much pickling, curing, and smoking of food. 

Combine that with Cumbrian produce: dishes like venison pastrami, smoked juniper yoghurt, Cans na Tire (cheese), and cucurbit relish; Herdwick hogget loin; aged Shorthorn rib; fermented eryngii, smokey morels, charcoal, and dittander; and l’al onions ‘glazed in our mead’ with smoked potato custard. Plenty of lyrical phrases have been written about Forest Side, which is fitting given that William Wordsworth once lived down the road. 

5. Old Stamp House

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Old Stamp House, Church St
Ambleside LA22 0BU, UK

The whitewashed walls and flagstoned floors of poet William Wordsworth’s old office building provides a fitting setting for Ryan Blackburn’s Cumbrian-sourced-and-inspired food. One well-known London chef who ate here apparently told him it was the greatest meal he’d ever eaten “for knowing where he was.” Go for the seven-course tasting menu for a trip around Cumbria, cooked by a ‘friend of farmers, fish merchants and foragers.’ There might be Ravenglass crab, Morecambe Bay brown shrimps, Whitehaven turbot, grouse from Alston Moor, venison from Ullswater, or roe deer from the Cartmel Valley. Not to miss is Herdwick hogget from Yew Tree Farm near Coniston, the Herdwick being the native sheep breed of the Lake District; the farm once owned by author Beatrix Potter. A nearby café called Kysty is in the same ownership.

Best Lake District restaurants: Old Stamp House, Ambleside Old Stamp House [Official Photo]

6. Lake Road Kitchen

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Lake Rd
Ambleside LA22 0AD, UK

“Hyper-seasonal, cool climate cooking” perfectly encapsulates the food-sourcing ethic of chef James Cross but the brevity of the phrase only hints at the exceptional meals, served in this 19-seat restaurant. There’s a stripped down, vaguely Scandinavian feel to its interior, so no real distraction from savouring what Cross intends to be “one of the best meals” of diners’ lives. His protein heavy five- or eight-course tasting menus — a 12-course one is available too — might encompass muntjac deer from Scotland, lobster from Norway, and Herdwick lamb and veal short rib from the Lake District. Bergen steamed halibut with beurre monté sauce (based on one of five house-made misos) and the 120-day-aged Blue Grey beef, barbecued in the kitchen in front of your eyes and served with black truffle oil, are a couple of dishes to look out for. Cool climate cooking? The warmth is in the welcome and in the deep contentment of dining here.

Saddleback pork chop with leaves from the Lake Road Kitchen garden, one of the Lake District’s best restaurants
11-week dry aged Saddleback pork chop with leaves from the Lake Road Kitchen garden
Lake Road Kitchen [Official Photo]

7. L'Enclume

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Cavendish St, Cartmel
Grange-over-Sands LA11 6PZ, UK

Since 2002 with the promise of “modern, innovative cooking,” Simon Rogan’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant has become a gold standard for chefs up and down the country. Whitewashed stone walls and an anvil in a fireplace remind people of its former life as a smithy; 15 chefs in the kitchen demonstrate what it takes to create a 15-course tasting menu (eight courses offered at lunch too) of surprise, excitement, sublime skill, and intense flavour. All with terrific service and presentation. 

L’Enclume’s 12 acre farm/garden supplies vegetables, fruit, herbs, and a certain amount of rare breed beef. Dishes are in a constant state of evolution but may include — in L’Enclume’s lexicon — truffle dumpling, oyster cracker, flaky crab, and carrots; Orkney scallop and green tomato chutney; aged veal in coal oil; butter poached turbot; and apple marigold ice cream with a disc of nougatine.

A chef’s table at Aulis, the development kitchen, can be booked at L’Enclume but if Londoners can’t wait to get here, try Simon Rogan’s Michelin-starred Roganic in Marylebone.

Two-Michelin-starred L’Enclume, chef Simon Rogan’s flagship restaurant
A selction of leaves and vegetables from L’Enclume’s Lake District garden
L’Enclume [Official Photo]

8. Rogan and Co

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Devonshire Square, Cartmel
Grange-over-Sands LA11 6QD, UK

An atmospheric old building beside the small River Eea in Cartmel is the home of Simon Rogan’s ‘relaxed neighbourhood restaurant’. Rogan & Co got its first Michelin star in October 2018 and while it may be a different beast from L’Enclume — with à la carte two- and three-course menus rather than tastings — the commitment to flavour and invention is every bit as intense. Much produce comes from the Rogan farm/garden in Cartmel and further afield in the county so, for a perfect four-course meal, diners might go for a snack of lamb croquette and damson, a wood pigeon and beetroot starter, a main course of aged short rib of beef, and a dessert of dark chocolate fondant and apple marigold custard. The lunch menu here is great value.

Best Lake District restaurants: Michelin star Rogan and Co in Cartmel Rogan and Co [Official Photo]

9. HRiSHi at Gilpin Hotel & Lake House

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Crook Rd
Windermere LA23 3NF, UK

The 2015 BBC2 series Chefs on Trial brought Hrishikesh Desai to Gilpin and it was his early life spent in India that now imbues the Michelin-starred food here with the tastes of south Asia. Choose from a three-course menu or seven-course ‘Inspirations from Kerala’ tasting (until March 2019). That signature tasting menu includes crispy soft-shelled crab ‘Kochi Thatukkadas’ style, sweet and sour Bombay mix, and smoked celeriac, pollichathu-marinated Norfolk quail, courgette-crusted Atlantic halibut, and fillet of Buccleuch farm beef with a red wine khozambu. 

Dinner only.

Michelin-starred Hrishi at Gilpin Hotel and Lake House
Pancetta-wrapped loin of lamb with baby aubergine, asparagus, and masala
Hrishi [Official Photo]

10. Gilpin Spice

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Crook Road
Windermere LA23 3NE, UK

Who’d have thought there’d be any connection between 18th century Whitehaven — on Cumbria’s west coast — and a luxury Lake District hotel? But thanks to head chef Hrishikesh Desai and the heritage of Whitehaven’s spice trade, Gilpin Hotel has a memorable and exuberantly furnished alternative to its Michelin-starred restaurant, Hrishi. Pan-Asian dishes come in small and big sharing plate size, with snacks like pain puri (puff balls filled with chickpea curry), soups or flatbreads (like Barbary duck) to kick off. Saddleback pork belly and marinated whole fish of the day are the pick of the mains. As with Hrishi, there’s an ‘Inspirations from Kerala’ tasting menu (on until March 2019), this time with the likes of sea bream pollichathu, tharavu mappas (braised duck), and lamb biryani and sambar. No Grasmere gingerbread for dessert, but Grasmere gingerbread is something else to thank the Whitehaven spice trade for. 

“A study in Satay” at Gilpin Spice
Gilpin Spice [Official Photo]

11. Tebay Services

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Westmorland Place
Orton CA10 3SB, UK

‘Lamb and beef from our farm a mile away’, ‘handmade Cumbrian pies’, ‘succulent roasts’, ‘naughty pastries’ go the words above the food counter at Tebay Services. Yes, a service station. On the M6 in Cumbria and in the same family ownership as Gloucester Services on the M5, both amongst the best in the country. Soups, burgers and Cumberland sausage are available too, as are the likes of pear and frangipane tart, orange and almond friand and dark chocolate florentines. Changing menus reflect the seasons. 

(A few steps away from the large cafe/restaurant is the award winning farmshop, complete with butcher’s counter and heaps of local produce. Tebay is a pitstop with gratitude.....for the thanks that drivers give when they pull in here.)

Tebay Services — probably the best service station in the U.K.
Tebay [Official Photo]

1. Craig's Kitchen at Virginia House

24 Queen St, Ulverston LA12 7AF, UK
Craig’s Kitchen at Virginia House
“In It For The Long Trawl.” Seared mackerel, pickled cockles, brown shrimps, samphire, brown shrimp butter, oyster leaf gel, lemon gel, sea herbs, shellfish emulsion / foam, parched peas, sea rosemary, rock samphire, and oyster leaf flowers. 
Craig’s Kitchen at Virginia House [Official Photo]

Craig Sherrington got four perfect tens from judges in the final of BBC’s Great British Menu 2018 but narrowly missed out on victory. His four-course GBM menu is being served for several months at this restaurant-with-rooms and gin bar. A small-plate tasting menu and an à la carte brasserie menu are offered too. For the fish course, In It for the Long Trawl (awarded 10/10): ‘head to’ Morecambe Bay for seared mackerel, pickled cockles, brown shrimps, and samphire. For the main course, A Sense of Occasion: tuck into salt-aged fillet of Penny Bridge Dexter beef, with pithivier of shin beef and ceps, British truffle, and truffle oil.

24 Queen St
Ulverston LA12 7AF, UK

2. The Jumble Room

Langdale Road, Grasmere, Ambleside LA22 9SU, UK
The Jumble Room
The Jumble Room [Official Photo]

Take a food tour of the world while dining in Grasmere’s joyful and quirky Jumble Room, Andy and Chrissy Hill’s restaurant which they opened in 1996 in what was once a junk room. For mains they offer the likes of siomai dim sum parcels, filled with pork and Morecambe bay shrimps (with a touch of ginger); local lamb rump, rubbed in rose harissa and Persian spices; and Malayan seafood curry, with chunks of fresh fish and Madagascan black tiger prawns, coddled in the restaurant’s spiced Asian broth. Back to Britain for good old fish and chips, a big favourite. 

Check out the large paintings downstairs, the jazz photographs upstairs and the album covers in the loos. And for luxury in the Lakes, try the couple’s B&B called Randy Pike (www.randypike.co.uk).

Langdale Road, Grasmere
Ambleside LA22 9SU, UK

3. The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop

Church Cottage, Grasmere, Ambleside LA22 9SW, UK

A cross between a biscuit and a cake, pale and crumbly in appearance but chewy on the inside, the gingerbread is made to the same recipe which Grasmere cook Sarah Nelson used in 1854 when she first opened her shop to locals and visitors. Only sold here and online, it’s one of those foods — along with Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding (www.cartmelvillageshop.co.uk), traditional Cumberland sausage, Herdwick lamb, and damsons from the Lyth and Winster valleys — that have become almost as familiar as the names of Windermere, Derwentwater, Helvellyn, and Scafell Pike. 

Church Cottage, Grasmere
Ambleside LA22 9SW, UK

4. The Forest Side Hotel

Grasmere, Ambleside LA22 9RN, UK

The wonderful kitchen garden gives a great sense of the food ambition at Forest Side where the restaurant received a Michelin star within a year of the hotel opening in 2016. Cumbria’s writ large on the menu, with even the names — the Bait Menu (three courses), the La’al ‘Un (six courses) and the Grand ‘Un (ten courses) rather giving the game away. Head chef is keen forager, Kevin Tickle (once of L’Enclume) and behind the scenes there’s much pickling, curing, and smoking of food. 

Combine that with Cumbrian produce: dishes like venison pastrami, smoked juniper yoghurt, Cans na Tire (cheese), and cucurbit relish; Herdwick hogget loin; aged Shorthorn rib; fermented eryngii, smokey morels, charcoal, and dittander; and l’al onions ‘glazed in our mead’ with smoked potato custard. Plenty of lyrical phrases have been written about Forest Side, which is fitting given that William Wordsworth once lived down the road. 

Grasmere
Ambleside LA22 9RN, UK

5. Old Stamp House

Old Stamp House, Church St, Ambleside LA22 0BU, UK
Best Lake District restaurants: Old Stamp House, Ambleside Old Stamp House [Official Photo]

The whitewashed walls and flagstoned floors of poet William Wordsworth’s old office building provides a fitting setting for Ryan Blackburn’s Cumbrian-sourced-and-inspired food. One well-known London chef who ate here apparently told him it was the greatest meal he’d ever eaten “for knowing where he was.” Go for the seven-course tasting menu for a trip around Cumbria, cooked by a ‘friend of farmers, fish merchants and foragers.’ There might be Ravenglass crab, Morecambe Bay brown shrimps, Whitehaven turbot, grouse from Alston Moor, venison from Ullswater, or roe deer from the Cartmel Valley. Not to miss is Herdwick hogget from Yew Tree Farm near Coniston, the Herdwick being the native sheep breed of the Lake District; the farm once owned by author Beatrix Potter. A nearby café called Kysty is in the same ownership.

Old Stamp House, Church St
Ambleside LA22 0BU, UK

6. Lake Road Kitchen

Lake Rd, Ambleside LA22 0AD, UK
Saddleback pork chop with leaves from the Lake Road Kitchen garden, one of the Lake District’s best restaurants
11-week dry aged Saddleback pork chop with leaves from the Lake Road Kitchen garden
Lake Road Kitchen [Official Photo]

“Hyper-seasonal, cool climate cooking” perfectly encapsulates the food-sourcing ethic of chef James Cross but the brevity of the phrase only hints at the exceptional meals, served in this 19-seat restaurant. There’s a stripped down, vaguely Scandinavian feel to its interior, so no real distraction from savouring what Cross intends to be “one of the best meals” of diners’ lives. His protein heavy five- or eight-course tasting menus — a 12-course one is available too — might encompass muntjac deer from Scotland, lobster from Norway, and Herdwick lamb and veal short rib from the Lake District. Bergen steamed halibut with beurre monté sauce (based on one of five house-made misos) and the 120-day-aged Blue Grey beef, barbecued in the kitchen in front of your eyes and served with black truffle oil, are a couple of dishes to look out for. Cool climate cooking? The warmth is in the welcome and in the deep contentment of dining here.

Lake Rd
Ambleside LA22 0AD, UK

7. L'Enclume

Cavendish St, Cartmel, Grange-over-Sands LA11 6PZ, UK
Two-Michelin-starred L’Enclume, chef Simon Rogan’s flagship restaurant
A selction of leaves and vegetables from L’Enclume’s Lake District garden
L’Enclume [Official Photo]

Since 2002 with the promise of “modern, innovative cooking,” Simon Rogan’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant has become a gold standard for chefs up and down the country. Whitewashed stone walls and an anvil in a fireplace remind people of its former life as a smithy; 15 chefs in the kitchen demonstrate what it takes to create a 15-course tasting menu (eight courses offered at lunch too) of surprise, excitement, sublime skill, and intense flavour. All with terrific service and presentation. 

L’Enclume’s 12 acre farm/garden supplies vegetables, fruit, herbs, and a certain amount of rare breed beef. Dishes are in a constant state of evolution but may include — in L’Enclume’s lexicon — truffle dumpling, oyster cracker, flaky crab, and carrots; Orkney scallop and green tomato chutney; aged veal in coal oil; butter poached turbot; and apple marigold ice cream with a disc of nougatine.

A chef’s table at Aulis, the development kitchen, can be booked at L’Enclume but if Londoners can’t wait to get here, try Simon Rogan’s Michelin-starred Roganic in Marylebone.

Cavendish St, Cartmel
Grange-over-Sands LA11 6PZ, UK

8. Rogan and Co

Devonshire Square, Cartmel, Grange-over-Sands LA11 6QD, UK
Best Lake District restaurants: Michelin star Rogan and Co in Cartmel Rogan and Co [Official Photo]

An atmospheric old building beside the small River Eea in Cartmel is the home of Simon Rogan’s ‘relaxed neighbourhood restaurant’. Rogan & Co got its first Michelin star in October 2018 and while it may be a different beast from L’Enclume — with à la carte two- and three-course menus rather than tastings — the commitment to flavour and invention is every bit as intense. Much produce comes from the Rogan farm/garden in Cartmel and further afield in the county so, for a perfect four-course meal, diners might go for a snack of lamb croquette and damson, a wood pigeon and beetroot starter, a main course of aged short rib of beef, and a dessert of dark chocolate fondant and apple marigold custard. The lunch menu here is great value.

Devonshire Square, Cartmel
Grange-over-Sands LA11 6QD, UK

9. HRiSHi at Gilpin Hotel & Lake House

Crook Rd, Windermere LA23 3NF, UK
Michelin-starred Hrishi at Gilpin Hotel and Lake House
Pancetta-wrapped loin of lamb with baby aubergine, asparagus, and masala
Hrishi [Official Photo]

The 2015 BBC2 series Chefs on Trial brought Hrishikesh Desai to Gilpin and it was his early life spent in India that now imbues the Michelin-starred food here with the tastes of south Asia. Choose from a three-course menu or seven-course ‘Inspirations from Kerala’ tasting (until March 2019). That signature tasting menu includes crispy soft-shelled crab ‘Kochi Thatukkadas’ style, sweet and sour Bombay mix, and smoked celeriac, pollichathu-marinated Norfolk quail, courgette-crusted Atlantic halibut, and fillet of Buccleuch farm beef with a red wine khozambu. 

Dinner only.

Crook Rd
Windermere LA23 3NF, UK

10. Gilpin Spice

Crook Road, Windermere LA23 3NE, UK
“A study in Satay” at Gilpin Spice
Gilpin Spice [Official Photo]

Who’d have thought there’d be any connection between 18th century Whitehaven — on Cumbria’s west coast — and a luxury Lake District hotel? But thanks to head chef Hrishikesh Desai and the heritage of Whitehaven’s spice trade, Gilpin Hotel has a memorable and exuberantly furnished alternative to its Michelin-starred restaurant, Hrishi. Pan-Asian dishes come in small and big sharing plate size, with snacks like pain puri (puff balls filled with chickpea curry), soups or flatbreads (like Barbary duck) to kick off. Saddleback pork belly and marinated whole fish of the day are the pick of the mains. As with Hrishi, there’s an ‘Inspirations from Kerala’ tasting menu (on until March 2019), this time with the likes of sea bream pollichathu, tharavu mappas (braised duck), and lamb biryani and sambar. No Grasmere gingerbread for dessert, but Grasmere gingerbread is something else to thank the Whitehaven spice trade for. 

Crook Road
Windermere LA23 3NE, UK

11. Tebay Services

Westmorland Place, Orton CA10 3SB, UK
Tebay Services — probably the best service station in the U.K.
Tebay [Official Photo]

‘Lamb and beef from our farm a mile away’, ‘handmade Cumbrian pies’, ‘succulent roasts’, ‘naughty pastries’ go the words above the food counter at Tebay Services. Yes, a service station. On the M6 in Cumbria and in the same family ownership as Gloucester Services on the M5, both amongst the best in the country. Soups, burgers and Cumberland sausage are available too, as are the likes of pear and frangipane tart, orange and almond friand and dark chocolate florentines. Changing menus reflect the seasons. 

(A few steps away from the large cafe/restaurant is the award winning farmshop, complete with butcher’s counter and heaps of local produce. Tebay is a pitstop with gratitude.....for the thanks that drivers give when they pull in here.)

Westmorland Place
Orton CA10 3SB, UK

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