Cumbria’s reputation as a food-lover’s paradise has only increased in recent years, with yet more Michelin Star restaurants popping up around the county. It’s all fed by the land: from Herdwick hogget to Morecambe Bay and Solway shrimps; from the damson orchards of the Lyth and Winster Valleys to its Farmers Markets, breweries and cheesemakers – it’s no wonder this beautifully rugged region attracts some of England’s most talented chefs.
On the salt marshes of Cartmel Peninsula, lamb graze on wild grasses and herbs such as sea lavender and marsh samphire, resulting in extra flavoursome meat. Thanks to its forests, hedgerows and coastline, Cumbria is also a forager’s dream. Chefs can pick wild mushrooms, wood sorrel, wild sage, water mint, hawthorn berries, rosehip and elderflower, to name but a few. Meanwhile, the coastline delivers sea spinach, sea cabbage and various types of seaweed.
Several iconic dishes have originated in the region too. Sticky toffee pudding was conceived at the Sharrow Bay hotel, whilst Grasmere Gingerbread, first created by Sarah Nelson in 1854, is still sold in the same shop by her descendants today. Kendal Mint Cake, the climbers’ favourite, was even supplied to Sir Edmund Hillary on his Everest ascent.
With such a rich culinary heritage, Cumbria presents itself as the ideal destination for those in search of great food and hospitality. There's certainly plenty of restaurants to choose from when it comes to Michelin Stars.
Old Stamp House, Ambleside – One Star
Here you can eat in the cellars of a house where William Wordsworth used to work as the Distributor of Stamps for Westmorland. It’s owned by two brothers: Ryan heads up the kitchen and Craig runs the front of house. The Cumbrian larder takes centre stage; look out for the Herdwick hogget, as it’s something of a speciality here.
Staying the night? The Michelin-recommended Rothay Manor is just up the road.
heft, Newton in Cartmel – One Star
Having worked in the kitchens of Cumbrian gems L’Enclume and Forest Side, Kevin Tickle set up his own restaurant with wife and fellow local Nicola, and they gained a Michelin Star of their own. They chose a characterful 17C village pub as their setting and serve dishes informed by Kevin’s local foraging knowledge, which come with an imaginative edge.
The Samling, Ambleside – One Star
One of several top Cumbrian restaurants housed inside a luxury hotel, The Samling has cooking of a quality to match its surroundings. Dishes have depth and refinement, and the spectacular lake views only add to the experience. You’ll have ample opportunity to enjoy them thanks to the dining room’s elevated position and floor-to-ceiling windows.
Click here to book your stay at the Michelin-recommended Samling Hotel.
Allium at Askham Hall, Askham – One Star
This attractive restaurant, styled like a country kitchen and set within an 11C castle, is headed up by chef Richard Swale, who grew up in the area. Terrific ingredients from the kitchen garden and the Lowther Estate are used to great effect in accomplished dishes with highly complementary textures and tastes.
Cottage in the Wood, Braithwaite – One Star
High up in the tranquil setting of Whinlatter Pass, west of Keswick, lies this hidden gem. Head Chef Sam Miller joined in 2022 and brings with him experience in some of Scandinavia's finest kitchens and an innovative outlook. Sit in the conservatory for stunning views or in the dining room for a cosy countryside feel.
L’Enclume, Cartmel – Three Stars
The beating heart of the Simon Rogan empire, L’Enclume is set within a characterful old smithy. The perfectly paced tasting menu delivers a range of creative, balanced dishes and Simon’s 12 acre farm supplies much of the produce. Their strong sustainability credentials have also been recognised with the award of a Michelin Green Star.
Rogan & Co, Cartmel – One Star
The more laid-back cousin to L’Enclume occupies a pretty cottage in the centre of the village and Simon Rogan’s influence is clear to see in the understated yet skilfully prepared dishes. Produce from his Cartmel Valley farm and the best of the Lakeland larder really pay dividends. The set price lunch represents great value.
Forest Side, Grasmere – One Star
The cooking at this handsome mansion is designed to be 'a reflection of the landscape in which it sits’. The Victorian kitchen garden plays a large part in their philosophy, where provenance and sustainability are key. The adventurous dishes exhibit vibrant colours, appealing textural contrasts and plenty of skill from the chefs.
Forest Side is also a Michelin-recommended hotel. Click here to book your stay.
SOURCE at Gilpin Hotel, Bowness-on-Windermere – One Star
A luxury countryside hotel that’s been run with passion for many years, Gilpin is home to both Gilpin Spice and this, the hotel’s flagship operation. Dishes are sophisticated but not over-complicated and are prepared with great precision. The homely service adds to the classic country house feel, making this a particularly welcoming place to visit.
Dog and Gun Inn, Skelton – One Star
If you needed proof that Michelin Star cooking can be hearty and down-to-earth, here it is. This has been a labour of love for chef-owner Ben Queen-Fryer, who crafts consistently enjoyable dishes in relaxed yet inviting environment. Dishes like Pringle House lamb bhuna with puffed rice and coriander accompany refined versions of tasty pub fare.
Pentonbridge Inn, Penton – One Star
Representing the far north of the county is the latest Cumbrian restaurant to gain a Michelin Star, under the stewardship of Head Chef Chris Archer. Dishes here are produced with great care and detail, but never rely on gimmicks or over-elaboration to succeed. Instead, expect a flurry of well-judged flavours and combinations.