Cumbria – a gourmet’s paradise

Cumbria has surpassed all other regions in the UK outside of London, with a total of 13 Michelin stars awarded to its restaurants. From traditional dishes to modern gastronomic creations, the cuisine of this remote English county is a testament to the region’s passion for food and dedication to excellence.

Restaurant Forest Site, Grasmere. Photo: Phil Rigby

County, known for its association with literary greats such as Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter, as well as its delicious sausages, has become a popular tourist destination. However, the county’s Michelin-star cuisine has also contributed to its growing popularity. 

Currently, 11 restaurants in Cumbria have been awarded a total of 13 Michelin stars, with L’Enclume in Cartmel being the first to receive a star in 2005, followed by a second in 2013, and a highly sought-after third star in 2022 – an achievement held by only eight restaurants across the entire United Kingdom.

The county of Cumbria has the highest number of Michelin stars among counties outside London, with Berkshire coming in second with eight stars. These stars have been awarded to renowned places like Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck and The Hind’s Head.

Restaurant Rogan&Co, Cartme. Photo: Nina Claridge

So, the question comes to mind, why are there so many stars in Cumbria? According to an anonymous Michelin chief inspector, the reason for Cumbria’s high number of Michelin stars can be traced back to the county’s long-standing reputation for exceptional cuisine, which was established by establishments like Miller Howe and Sharrow Bay in the 1960s. Many chefs who worked in these kitchens were inspired by the region’s beauty and have gone on to open their own successful restaurants in Cumbria.

Cumbria’s status as a must-visit place for food enthusiasts, as well as the origin of numerous outstanding ingredients, is closely tied to its land, terroir, and heritage. The region’s offerings, including Herdwick hogget, Morecambe Bay and Solway shrimps, damson orchards in the Lyth and Winster Valleys, and local farmers’ markets, breweries, and cheesemakers, draw some of the most skilled chefs in the United Kingdom to this stunningly rugged area.

Restaurant Cottage in the Wood, Braithwaite

„Chefs have always been interested in the Lake District. The incredible produce that’s available on our doorstep is directly reflected in the quality of restaurants in the area. (…) I have no doubt the amazing Lake District larder plays a part in the number of Michelin stars being awarded. Cumbrian ingredients inspire chefs, and the chefs inspire the producers too.(…) Living here brings a different quality of life that many chefs are seeking after years spent working in the bigger cities.” – says Simon Rogan, chef-owner of three-starred restaurant, L’Enclume.

Rogan highlights Cartmel Valley Game, Unsworth’s Yard brewery, and The Lakes Distillery among the producers he works with, in addition to the ingredients grown on the Cartmel-based farm owned by his restaurant L’Enclume. The farm, named „Our Farm,” is managed by head farmer John Rowland.

„I honestly believe we have the best produce and suppliers in the world. (…) We love the guys from Eden Yard Rapeseed Oil. Their oil adds so much to our cooking, and the fact it’s just made down the road makes it extra special. Lakeland Dexter produces some phenomenal beef for us, and Cartmel Valley Game are brilliant, too.” – Paul Leonard, head chef at one-Michelin-starred The Forest Side in Grasmere, shares the belief that Cumbria has exceptional suppliers. 

Restaurant L’Enclume, Cartmel. Photo: Cristian Barnett

The list of restaurants which hold Michelin stars across Cumbria:

  1. L’Enclume, Cartmel – 3 stars 
  2. Rogan & Co, Cartmel – 1 star
  3. Heft, Cartmel – 1 star
  4. SOURCE at Gilpin Hotel, Bowness-on-Windermere – 1 star
  5. The Samling, Ambleside – 1 star
  6. Old Stamp House, Ambleside – 1 star
  7. Forest Side, Grasmere – 1 star 
  8. Allium at Askham Hall, Askham – 1 star
  9. Dog and Gun Inn, Skelton – 1 star
  10. Cottage in the Wood, Braithwaite – 1 star
  11. Pentonbridge Inn, Penton – 1 star

With its impressive terrain, high-quality ingredients, and top-notch culinary experts, Cumbria’s reputation as a food hub is set to last. According to Rogan – „The more people open great restaurants here, the more people want to open here and it has a snowball effect. I can’t see it slowing down any time soon.”

Author: Patrycja Bodzek-Kurzyńska

Cover photo: Restaurant The Samling, Ambleside 

Photos: Cristian Barnett – L’Enclume / Nina Claridge – Rogan&Co / The Samling / Phil Rigby – Forest Site / Cottage in the Wood


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