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A guide to Cumbria

A guide to Cumbria's Michelin-starred restaurants

Sarah 09 January 2024

Cumbria and the Lake District is a foodie paradise! From cosy pubs to high-end restaurants and from local treats to world cuisine, there really is a range to suit everyone. There are an incredible eleven Michelin Star restaurants in the Lake District, and Cumbria boasts the honour of being the UK county with the most stars. 

Read on to find out more about these delectable Cumbrian restaurants and start planning your next foodie getaway to the Lake District.


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What is a Michelin Star?

Chef adding sauce to a fine dining dish

Originally created in France to encourage more motorists to take to the road by offering useful information for drivers, the Michelin Guide only began awarding stars for fine-dining establishments in the 1920s. It’s now the go-to guide for the best restaurants in the whole of the UK, offering from one to three stars to restaurants across the country. Cumbria is proud to be home to seven of those, and here they are.


L’Enclume, Cartmel

Characterful interiors of L'Enclume set for dinner

Image credit: L'Enclume

L’Enclume in Cartmel is undoubtedly the best of the Michelin Star restaurants in Cumbria, as it’s the only one to receive three Michelin Stars. It also boasts five AA rosettes, a Michelin Green Star for sustainability, The Good Food Guide 2022’s award for most exciting restaurant, and title of top restaurant in the world from La Liste 2024. Much of the food comes from its own farm, which you can even take a tour around. Praised for its excellent service, beautifully prepared meals, and all-round incredible experience, this is fine dining at its best!

At a glance:

  • Michelin Rating: 3 stars
  • Head chef: Alexander Rothnie
  • What’s special: See where the produce is from with farm tours, understated elegance, environmentally conscientious restaurant.

Allium, Askham

Exterior of Askham Hall with gardens in the foreground

Image credit: Askham Hall

The family-owned Askham estate near Penrith is beautiful in and of itself, and Allium adds to the joy of the place. With a menu that follows the seasonal food produced by the estate, you can expect the fresh taste of the gardens, fields and woodland from your meal. Their unique identity lies in the dairy ingredients included in all their menus, which reflects the history and provenance of the region.

At a glance:

  • Michelin rating: 1 star
  • Head chef: Richard Swale
  • What’s special: Fresh produce from the estate, set in a beautiful house and garden, family-run

The Cottage in the Wood, Whinlatter

The Cottage in the Wood lit up in the evening

Deep inside Whinlatter Forest is The Cottage in the Wood, a restaurant celebrating local Cumbrian food in a unique way. Led by head chef Ben Wilkinson, the restaurant specialises in seasonal produce and offers an ever-changing menu of exquisite local flavours. Combine that with its tranquil setting, forest and mountain views, and even the occasional red squirrel visiting the surrounding gardens, and you have yourself a truly special experience!

At a glance:

  • Michelin rating: 1 star
  • Head chef: Ben Wilkinson
  • What’s special: Forest setting, mountain views, local produce

The Forest Side, Grasmere

Offering the option of a four-course or an eight-course meal, the food at The Forest Side is inspired by the stunning mountain scenery surrounding Grasmere. Many of their ingredients are foraged from the local area by a dedicated team of experts, so you can be really sure of the freshest of food! When they’re not finding delicious ingredients in the wild, they’ll be picking the best from their kitchen garden, or working with local suppliers.

At a glance:

  • Michelin rating: 1 star
  • Head chef: Paul Leonard
  • What’s special: Foraged food from the local area, stunning mountain scenery

Old Stamp House, Ambleside

Image credit:  Phil Rigby Photography

Drawing inspiration from every element of Cumbria – the people, the mountains, the coast, the history – The Old Stamp House sits in a quiet, partially hidden spot in Ambleside. It’s particularly proud of its seafood, with produce from the Solway Coast and the harbours of Maryport and Whitehaven. These relatively unknown parts of Cumbria are stocked with delicious crab, fish and other seafood!

At a glance:

  • Michelin rating: 1 star
  • Head chef: Ryan Blackburn
  • What’s special: Seafood, quiet semi-hidden location, cosy atmosphere

Rogan & Co, Cartmel

There are two Michelin Star restaurants in Cartmel - which also lots of other wonderful eateries - and both are headed by Simon Rogan. It says a lot about the award-winning chef and his fabulous food. Described as a ‘relaxed neighbourhood restaurant’, Rogan & Co is more like a cosy Michelin Star pub than a fine dining restaurant. It means that you get the best food in a peaceful, relaxed atmosphere that makes any dining experience an absolute pleasure.

At a glance:

  • Michelin rating: 1 star
  • Head chef: Liam Fitzpatrick
  • What’s special: Relaxed atmosphere, knowledgeable staff, village location

Dog and Gun Inn, Skelton

The Dog and Gun Inn in Skelton is one of only a handful of Michelin starred pubs in the country. In 2018, just one year after opening, it received a Michelin Bib Gourmand - making it the only recipient in Cumbria - before being awarded its first star in 2022. The accolades don’t stop there either - this popular pub has been recognised by Cumbria Life Food and Drink Awards, the AA and Estrella. It also welcomes our four-legged friends, making it one of only a small number of dog-friendly Michelin restaurants.

At a glance:

  • Michelin rating: 1 star
  • Head chef: Ben Queen-Fryer
  • What’s special: Dog-friendly, relaxed atmosphere, cosy venue

Pentonbridge Inn, Penton

The dining room at Pentonbridge Inn

Image credit: Pentonbridge Inn

Just outside Cumbria’s only city, the Pentonbridge Inn is the perfect Michelin starred restaurant to visit if you’re staying in Carlisle. Set in a historic coaching inn close to the Scottish border, this restaurant takes great advantage of its location, with meats from Cumbria, and fish and shellfish from Scotland. You’ll also be able to sample the finest foods from all over the UK, as well as selections from their very own garden at Netherby Hall. As well as the much-coveted Michelin star, the Pentonbridge Inn also holds a Cesar award and three AA rosettes.

At a glance:

  • Michelin rating: 1 star
  • Head chef: Chris Archer
  • What’s special: Quality seafood and shellfish, modernised venue with character touches, beer garden

The Samling, Ambleside

One of the beautiful desserts at The Samling

 

We think this could be the Michelin restaurant with one of the best views in the country! In an elevated position close to the shores of Windermere, the Samling’s restaurant overlooks the lake through wall-to-ceiling windows. Most ingredients come from the local area, as well as from their own greenhouse, gardens and woodland. You can even take a walk around the kitchen gardens to see where your food has come from.

At a glance:

  • Michelin rating: 1 star
  • Head chef: Robby Jenks
  • What’s special: Stunning lake views from your seat, ‘chef’s table’ experience with kitchen tour

SOURCE at The Gilpin Hotel, Bowness-on-Windermere

Seafood starter on a white plate

Image credit: SOURCE at The Gilpin

SOURCEis the main restaurant at The Gilpin in Bowness-on-Windermere. Its first Michelin star came after the arrival of head chef Ollie Bridgewater, formerly of Heston Blumenthal’s three Michelin Starred Fat Duck. His own love for his work and food creations comes out in the delicious flavours in every meal at this wonderful restaurant. There are a choice of menus, including a Development Lunch, where you can sample new dishes and food experiments.

At a glance:

  • Michelin rating: 1 star
  • Head chef: Ollie Bridgwater
  • What’s special: Popular Lakes location, garden views, vibrant venue

Heft, Cartmel

Image credit: Phil Rigby Photography

In Cumbria, to be hefted is a farming term that refers to the unique Herdwick breed and their ability to know the boundaries of their home, throughout generations, without the need of fences or walls.  Kevin and Nicola feel hefted to Cumbria, hence the name of their Michelin restaurant. In the 17th century inn, Heft’s food is influenced by the head chef’s intimate knowledge of the landscape and countryside where he grew up. The menu is a take on plenty of classic favourites, with a drop of humour and plenty of exquisite tastes.

At a glance:

  • Michelin rating: 1 star
  • Head chef: Kevin Tickle
  • What’s special: Local food by local people, relaxed pub atmosphere, imaginative menu

Plan your Lake District getaway

View across Buttermere with a background of Lakeland fell

Whether you’re heading out for a special occasion, are ticking off some Michelin restaurants from your list, or just want a treat while you’re on holiday, hopefully you’ve been inspired by the amazing foodie offerings in the Lake District and that you enjoy your fine dining experience at one of these incredible restaurants. You can read our further guides on eating out in the Lake District for more foodie inspiration.

Before you set off on your gastronomic holiday, take a look at our range of self-catering holiday cottages throughout the Lake District. Find the perfect holiday property to provide the right backdrop for your Lake District adventure, whether you plan to go boating, hiking or mountain climbing. 



Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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