The Lake District is finally welcoming visitors, many of whom are no doubt very excited about once again dining at their favourite Michelin-Starred restaurant. Here’s where’s open and what they’re offering:
Two Michelin Stars
Over the past 18 years, L’Enclume has become as synonymous with the pretty Lakeland village of Cartmel as horse racing and sticky toffee pudding. The characterful former village forge overlooks a pretty brook, making it a truly charming spot on a warm summer’s evening – and the perfect backdrop for Simon Rogan’s highly original cooking.
The kitchen takes a fiercely seasonal and sustainable approach, with extensive use of produce from their own 12 acre farm alongside fine ingredients like Cornish crab, Scottish turbot and Oscietra caviar. Dishes are visually stunning, vibrant and creative, delivering pure and defined flavours allied with contrasting textures and acidity. Engaging, relaxed service comes from an immaculate team who do their utmost to ensure your dining experience is suitably memorable.
One Michelin Star
Old Stamp House, Ambleside
Open – for Lunch (12.30pm), Early Evening (5.30pm) and Dinner (8.30pm) sittings.
The Old Stamp House is as quirky as its name implies. It sits in the centre of Ambleside – which in turn sits within the heart of the Lake District National Park – inside the cellars of an old house where William Wordsworth used to work as the Distributor of Stamps for Westmorland. It’s a tiny place, split over two low-ceilinged rooms which are hung with local art.
It's owned by the Blackburn brothers: Ryan heads up the kitchen, while Craig looks after the service. Menus offer skilfully prepared, carefully balanced dishes, which have been well-thought-through and are packed with flavour. The Cumbrian larder is the star of the show, with local rabbit, deer and beef popular choices. The iconic Herdwick hogget and outstanding cheeses are must-tries.
Open – currently for residents only.
A charming, experienced family run this delightfully modernised country house nestled in the fells. Start with an aperitif in the comfy lounge or chic bar then move on to one of the three intimate dining rooms that make up HRiSHi, where the décor is eye-catching and slightly eclectic – a mirror for Head Chef Hrishikesh Desai’s colourfully presented food.
His cooking style pays the utmost respect to classical techniques and features the likes of salt-aging, brining and smoking, and he aims to awaken the senses by using flavours and textures to provoke certain memories. Precisely prepared, original dishes are very attractively presented and some blend local ingredients with subtle Indian or Asian spicing. The vegetarian dishes are packed with flavour too.
Rogan & Co, Cartmel
Open – for Lunch & Dinner, Wednesday-Monday.
Sunday Lunch & Dinner in July and August – featuring Tom Barnes’ Great British Menu dishes.
This informal little sister to L’Enclume is situated just around the corner in the same pretty village. It is housed within a whitewashed cottage set next to a tranquil river, and its open-plan, low-beamed interior feels cosy and stylish in equal measure.
The appealing menu has all the Simon Rogan hallmarks, listing exceptional Cumbrian produce alongside many ingredients harvested in prime condition from their own farm in the Cartmel Valley. The skilfully prepared yet unfussy dishes keep their emphasis firmly on the main ingredient, and flavours are harmonious and understated. Don’t miss the full-flavoured aged short rib of beef or the Lakeland-influenced caramelised gingerbread. Staff are super-friendly with a relaxed, chatty style.
Cottage in the Wood, Braithwaite
Open 10th July – Dinner for residents only.
Open 17th July – Lunch & Dinner for both resident and non-resident diners.
As you leave the small hamlet of Braithwaite, the narrow road rises steeply towards the Whinlatter Forest and Pass. Here, you’ll find a small black-and-white roadside inn run by a friendly team. It’s a cosy little place: in winter sit in the dining room; in summer take in the view over the fells and valley from the conservatory.
Chef Ben Wilkinson has made the place his own and there is a quiet confidence to his cooking. Top quality ingredients and classic techniques take the lead, and there is a certain sophistication to the well-balanced flavour pairings – and while skilfully making the dishes look eye-catching, he manages to avoid over-elaboration. Like the food, the service is natural and honest, and you leave feeling that they really care about every little detail.
Forest Side, Grasmere
Open 24th July – for Dinner, Bed & Breakfast. Lunch, Friday & Saturday from August.
This substantial Lakeland mansion is set in mature gardens; start with a drink in the silver-walled lounge with its views out over the surrounding fells before taking a seat at one of the reclaimed wood tables in the rustic restaurant, whose décor reflects its natural philosophy.
Provenance is key when it comes to the micro-seasonal menu, which features carefully sourced produce from local suppliers as well as fruit and vegetables from the Victorian kitchen garden and ingredients foraged by chef Paul Leonard and his team. The skilled modern dishes are naturally constructed with vibrant colours, good textural contrasts and some adventurous flavour combinations. Wine matches – carefully chosen from a list with a biodynamic and natural bias – are well worth considering.
Allium at Askham Hall, Askham
Open 30th July
Relax in the sitting room of this 11C castle to enjoy canapés and investigate the hugely impressive wine selection from the estate cellars; then head through to the modish, country kitchen style restaurant with its unique tiled floor, views over the mature gardens and elegant private room. Service is charming and it’s worth taking the advice of the experienced team.
Locally born chef Richard Swale oversees the kitchen and his dishes are driven by the seasons and the availability of produce from the Lowther Estate, in which the castle sits. The gardener plays an important part in guiding the menu, advising which ingredients are at their peak and what to plant next. Accomplished dishes have a certain simplicity but also focus on complementary textures and tastes.