On Monday, 6th October, 2019 at a special awards ceremony in London, there was fantastic news for the Lake District when it was announced that three restaurants in the region have achieved Michelin star status. That puts the total number of restaurants in the national park with a Michelin star at seven, with HRiSHi at the Gilpin Hotel, Rogan & Co in Cartmel, and Forest Side in Grasmere all retaining their single star status, and L’Enclume in Cartmel maintaining its prestigious status as a two Michelin starred restaurant.

Whilst seven restaurants might seem a small amount, it’s impressive when you take into consideration Cumbria’s low population of approximately half a million residents, compared to London where there are 67 Michelin starred restaurants and a population of 8.136 million. In other words, Cumbria has roughly one Michelin starred restaurant for every 71.4 thousand people, whilst London has roughly one Michelin starred restaurant for every 121.4 thousand people. This reaffirms what we in Cumbria have long suspected: our food heritage is second to none.

Here is the lowdown on all the new Michelin starred restaurants in the Lake District, and we would like to issue them all with a big congratulations for their amazing achievement.

The Cottage in the Wood, Whinlatter Forest

The Cottage in the Wood

England’s only mountain forest is a haven for cyclists, walkers, and thrill seekers, but it’s also home to the Cottage in the Wood – a restaurant with rooms that was one of the three Lake District restaurants to receive a Michelin star this year. For those in the know, this was hardly a surprise, since Head Chef Ben Wilkinson, who recently wowed visitors at the Cockermouth Food Festival, has been making big waves in the restaurant business, receiving multiple awards and accolades.

Whilst Wilkinson is keen to showcase Cumbria’s rich produce, including Herdwick Hogget and West Cumbrian fish stocks, he is not afraid to venture further afield to seek out the best flavours, bringing in ingredients from around the world in the quest to produce the perfect dish. What sets the Cottage in the Wood apart is the down to earth approach that owners Kath and Liam have to diners and overnight guests, avoiding the somewhat intimidating atmosphere that sometimes goes hand in hand with high end restaurants. The restaurant’s setting lends itself beautifully to the Chef’s use of local produce and foraged ingredients, with red squirrels occasionally spied through the restaurant’s windows.

Allium at Askham Hall, Near Penrith

Allium

Allium was launched just last year as part of an expansion at Askham Hall, a stunning stately home that dates back to the 13th century and is now a luxury hotel. At its helm is Head Chef Richard Swale who grew up in Cumbria and has developed an extraordinary knowledge of the food that grows here throughout the seasons. Swale spent several years working with celebrated chefs around the world before returning to his roots in Cumbria. He has been Head Chef at Askham Hall for five years and has overseen the development of the establishment into an award winning gastro delight.

Swale’s menus are inspired by the seasonal produce of the Lake District, and many of the ingredients are grown on the estate. Fruits, mushrooms, and game in the autumn, winter crops of kale and carrots, wild garlic foraged in the spring, and the bountiful summer harvest are used to their best potential. If an ingredient cannot be sourced from the estate then wherever possible supplies are sought from Cumbrian producers. A meal at Askham Hall is not just an exquisite dining experience – it’s a love song to Cumbria and its glorious status as a food lover’s paradise.

Old Stamp House, Ambleside

The Old Stamp House

Long before Michelin started handing out stars to restaurants, William Wordsworth worked at the Old Stamp House in Ambleside as a distributor of stamps. Whilst many of Wordsworth’s former haunts have become meccas for literary lovers, his former place of work has taken a different course, with the cellar of the building now housing the third restaurant in the Lake District to receive a Michelin Star this year.

Chef Ryan Blackburn previously worked at the Cottage in the Wood, but opened the Old Stamp House in 2014, keen to promote Cumbria’s rich food heritage. Blackburn is Cumbrian through and through, being the third generation in his family to work in the Cumbrian hospitality industry, and it is clear from Blackburn’s menus that he is a passionate advocate of Cumbrian produce. His speciality is Herdwick Hogget, but Blackburn has also sought inspiration from Cumbria’s coast and in particular, the role that the port of Whitehaven played in bringing exotic spices into the country, many of which are used in local speciality dishes. The Old Stamp House makes excellent use of the fishing fleets that operate from the west Cumbrian coast, whilst herbs and mushrooms are regularly foraged from the Lake District’s extraordinary landscape.