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Lake District - restaurant advice

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My wife and I are planning to spend a few days in late August in the Lake District, perhaps with Keswick as our base. We will probably not have a car. We would be grateful for any restaurant or other advice -- a hotel or B&B with exceptional food, not-to-miss restaurants, best Indian or other ethnic food, best pub food, and in general what to expect as traveling chowhounds in Cumbria.

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  1. There are 2 places that we have been to, courtesy of friends who live in Cumbria, that might meet your desire on the high end. Both have a Michelin star, so very good food. Both are also hotels, so accomodations are possible as well, if pricey.

    One is Gilpin Lodge and the other Holbeck Ghyll. The latter is particularly gorgeous and has a spectacular view of Lake Windermere. Our friends, who we saw about 2 weeks ago, say that currently Gilpin Lodge is the best food.

    Seriously, if you can, I'd strongly recommend having a car as I don't know how else you can easily tour the area. Some of the best pubs are definitely in smaller villages, and you just won't see the best of the Lake District without getting out and about. I suppose you might find a driver or a local tour company. But the best scenery is away from the larger towns. Keswick itself doesn't have that much to offer, in my opinion.

    For pubs, our usual advice is to get hold of a copy of The Good Pub Guide, or at least check out the listings online for Cumbria from their website. There are a number of good country pubs, some with very good food.

    1. The best restaurant in the Lake District is said to be L'Enclume in Cartmel. It's about 30 miles from Keswick but there is no point whatsoever in going to the Lake District without a car

      2 Replies
      1. re: Tony Finch

        Thanks to the two posters for their advice about a car (as well as the dining recommendations). I was influenced by the Rick Steves ENGLAND 1006 guidebook, both on Keswick as a base of operations and the necessity of a car ("Those based in Keswick without a car manage fine"). Though we've been to many places in England and even lived for a year in Leeds in the late 80s, we've never been to the Lake District and thus are grateful for advice for the brief holiday we are planning. Thanks again.

        1. re: LewP

          I would say to remember that Rick Steve's audience is primarilly Americans who on average don't stay anywhere for very long. If you already know that you can't get the esssence of anywhere in the UK without at least a week's stay (outside of London, of course) , you really must have a car

      2. We've had really nice meals at the two relaxed and reasonably priced Lucy's restaurants in Ambleside, which is a lovely town and well worth checking out - The main one is Lucy's on a Plate, and the other, which is more of a tapas bar, though I can't remember the name, it's right down the street. Get there early as both are very popular with locals and tourists.

        Have heard marvelous things about the food at The Drunken Duck, also in or just outside Ambleside, an inn/pub with rooms with very high standards of cuisine... and high prices, too. Think it might have a Michelin star, or have had one at one point.

        This weekend we're going to be staying at Ees Wyke, near Sawrey Bridge, an inn with a good food reputation. I'll post next week if it's really good. And, yes, I'd say having a car is essential. It's a big region, and public transport can be spotty and slow, especially during summer when the roads are busy anyway.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Yankunian

          Fiance and I went to the Drunken Duck in June. He thoroughly enjoyed his meal, but I wasn't quite as impressed. I think I may have made a bad choice with my starter which tainted the whole meal, although the main and dessert were delicious. The whole place is very nice, although the bar area feels almost like a waiting room before you are led into the dining area.

        2. I know this is a very late reply but I just had the best chips of my life about a week and a half ago at a little stand in Bowness-on-Windermere. Didn't try the fish, but the chips make for a wonderful snack as you're browsing. Light and crispy until the very last chip.
          I can't remember what it was called, but it had all sorts of banners on the front claiming it was voted the best fish n chips stand for x years running, etc.

          1. has no one heard of The Sharrow bay restaurant on Ullswater? Good enough for paul when he wanted to propose to Heather!!

            1. has no one heard of The Sharrow bay restaurant on Ullswater? Good enough for paul when he wanted to propose to Heather!

              1. Just back from 2 nights at the Holbeck Ghyll. Fab hotel albeit expensive (very expensive). The restaurant holds a single Michelin star and this seems about right.

                It describes its cooking style as Anglo/French and, I would say, leans towards the French in style. Unusually for a Lake District restaurant it makes no claims of local provenance for ingredients which, perhaps, tends to confirm the French leanings. Nice food, knowledgable serving staff but no WOW factor with the menu. Dinner (if not on a package) is £50 and is good value (folk used to southern restaurant prices will probably regard it as "very" good value).

                1. Visited Carlisle in Oct 2009. Had great meals at Alexandros for mini mezze plus moussaka and beef stifado for £10.95 each plus a bottle of retsina for £5.50 and Casa Romana for antipasto with broiled prawns plus an excellent pork belly on carmelized onions for me and gigantic lamb shoulder for my wife which also served as lunch for the two of us a day later.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: etoiledunord

                    Thanks for the Carlisle mentions - the city centre has always seemed like a food desert when I visit. In fact, northern Cumbria always strikes me as a bit of a desert - I guess all the good stuff is going on further south in the county in the actual Lake District.

                  2. I realize that the OP is quite old but since it's been revived, here is a link to a wonderful B&B that we stayed at that had terrific food, not to mention very comfortable accomodations tucked away in a beautiful village not that far from Keswick.

                    http://www.boltongateoldrectory.com/