Over the past decades, tourists flocked to the Lake District, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to witness its rugged scenery, experience its dramatic landscape, and explore the revived wilderness. But the explosion of the culinary scene has become the most exciting development in the Cumbrian region. While cheese makers, bakers, and organic farmers are constantly bringing distinct flavors in seasonal local produce, a batch of a new generation of passionate chefs is serving them on plates with flair. Here are the top picks to savor the finest cuisine of the Lake District.
Four & Twenty, Penrith
Husband and wife duo James and Rebecca Cowin work alongside chefs Steve and James to create seasonal menus in Four & Twenty. The small bistro-style eatery is located a two-minute walk from the attractive Penrith market square in the Lake District. The menu changes every month with additional weekend special dishes. The set menu includes moreish starters like roasted tomato and red pepper soup with basil oil and goat cheese, followed by a slow roast ragu of Cumbrian lamb with truffled pasta and chieftain cheese.
Opened in the Lake District 20 years ago by Chef Patron Simon Rogan, L’Enclume has expanded its branches all over England. The Cartmel venue, however, remains the flagship establishment with three Michelin stars for the delicious food and a Michelin green star for its focus on sustainability. All the fruits, flowers, veggies, and herbs used in the dishes are grown on the restaurant’s private 12-acre farm. The restaurant offers gourmet farm-to-table menus with seasonal produce.
Heft, High Newton
Nicola Tickle’s family has been farming the Cumbrian fells in the Lake District for 400 years. Now she runs Heft, a fine-dining restaurant in the village of High Newton, alongside her husband Kevin. The restaurant also includes five guest rooms. The chefs here offer a daily tasting menu, in just one sitting for lunch and dinner each day. The locally sourced seasonal ingredients are foraged and carefully chosen to bring out the complementary flavors in each cohesive dish. And the presentations look like works of art!
Rothay Manor, Ambleside
Originally built as a private house in the 1820s in the Lake District, Rothay Manor has transformed into a boutique hotel over the last 90 years. With its imaginative menu and some of the most passionate and knowledgeable staff, the restaurant boasts a well-deserved 3 AA Rosette rating. Head Chef Dan McGeorge, crowned Champion of Champions in the 2021 Great British Menu by BBC, combines the flavors of north England with Japanese and Scandinavian ideas. The impeccable tasting menu delivers an unforgettable experience!
The Black Bull, Sedbergh
Located in Sedbergh, at the very edge of the Lake District, the Black Bull is a former coaching inn turned hotel with an in-house restaurant. Back in 2018, James Ratcliffe and Nina Matsunaga rescued the building from a derelict state and gradually made it into a wonderful place to stay and an exciting place to dine, with a stylish and contemporary feel amid historic surroundings. Working her magic in the restaurant, Nina combines worldwide influences, especially from UK, Germany, and Japan, into dazzling delicious dishes.