To continue the blog “Summer fun in the Lake District” as promised, I will suggest you 3 interesting places to eat in Windermere which serve best local and seasonal produce from the lake and the mountain.
The Telegraph has described Cumbria’s cuisine as a leaps-and-bounds since there are now many places to eat from local to fine-dining and Michelin starred restaurants that you can find easily.
Thanks to the suggestion of ACE taxi’s driver, we pop into a famous spot of locals by the lake – Wateredge Inn Pub, to have full English breakfast which has been concerned as a national and usual dish in the morning. The portion includes fried egg, bacon, Cumberland sausage, black pudding, potato cake, baked beans, fried mushroom and grilled tomato served with toasts, peppermint (or English breakfast) tea & orange juice – such a nutrient combo to start a new day. I guess an essential reason making this place the people’s most favourite is its great location with lakeside setting, surrounded by mountains, fells and forests, looking out over Windermere – largest natural lake in England. Nothing is more wonderful than eating in the breathtaking scene on a beautiful summer day.
After a 4-hour hiking tour over the mountain, we come to The Log House set in a Norwegian log cabin – a brilliant dining spot serving great British food with a Mediterranean twist, located on the outskirts of Ambleside town center.
For starter, we order 3 portions of Sticky baby rack pork ribs marinated in a rich hickory BBQ sauce, Hot and spicy chicken wings served with house-salsa and creme fraiche, and Wild mushroom cooked in a rich creamy garlic sauce served with warm homemade bread to mop up.
After that, the main comes with a ginormous Tomahawk steak on 200 degrees lava stone at table, topped with asparagus & watercress, and butter on side. The steak arrived rare. The idea being that you can choose how medium rare or well-done steak you would like your own meat to your own liking. When the steak is cooked as your expectation, you should cut into bite size pieces and then with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, enjoy how juicy and sumptuous the highland steak is.
Another delightful dish is Slow braised beef in red wine on a hot lava bowl and vegetable sauce, served with crushed potatoes, carrots, green beans and house salad. It sounds quite similar with Vietnamese beef stew that I often cook at home, but this food in England normally goes with mashed potato instead of bread.
It would be a crime to miss out a glass of cocktails on a summer day.
For a great fine dinning experience, I think it’s worth going a little further than a lake. Jumping in a cab and make your way to Francine’s – a bistro-style restaurant highly recommended by Michelin Guide serving foods on an a-la-carte menu and daily additions board with a great wine list and a large selection of local speciality ales.
The starters include house snack with cream (I wonder this starter is on the house because we don’t pay for it); pan seared scallops with home-made black pudding, pommes puree, chicken veloute sauce & basil oil; and duck liver served with home-made pickles, jam and toasted brioche. The scallop dish is supper fresh and tasty while duck liver has a perfect smooth texture.
For the main course, the waitress suggest that seafood dishes are the highlight of restaurant so we decide Francine’s seafood casserole included fresh mussels, clams, scallops and prawns with pasta, herbs & parmesan topped with seared sea bream fillet and langoustine. It’s quite a mouthful, indeed you can share it with your friends if you want. A portion of Grilled lobster with garlic butter, lemon and herbs served with mixed leaves salad. And two fish dishes are Smoked haddock poached with scallops, saffron turned potatoes, broad beans; and Seared salmon supreme. I believe that the chefs know how to make a perfect seafood since all of them are flavoursome, incredibly rich and beautifully presented.
Other good points of Francine’s are about excellent service and ambient atmosphere that you can dine and enjoy in a stylish and comfortable place like you are in a host family.
All followed by two most favourite desserts: the Lakeland sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce & vanilla ice cream, and Slowly Belle Hellene poached pear in vanilla and white wine with a chocolate Amaretti mousse and almond tuile with vanilla ice-cream.
When we randomly pop into the Francine’s at 6.00pm, no table is available for 4 of us until 8.30pm. A friendly reminder is that you should call to reserve a table at least a day before coming. During the waiting time, we luckily find a table in a lovely Spanish pub named Tapios which serves great fruity cocktails and steamed mussels bowl with tomato sauce.
There are my favourite spots to eat in Windermere – Lake District, and hopefully that’s enough to get you planning for the Lake trip!