Venison tartare, blue cheese, smoked egg yolk purée
Tucked away in the Lyth Valley at Crosthwaite in the Lake District, The Punch Bowl Inn & Restaurant is a restaurant worth writing home about. We spent the end of May bank holiday weekend in the area and the restaurant had been recommended to us – we booked a table for Sunday lunch, hoping for a tasty gastropub meal which we could then walk off sleepily down winding country lanes (we only got as far as lunch…).
The Punch Bowl, a restaurant disguised as a pub, exceeded all our expectations. On arrival, we sunned ourselves on the terrace, soaking up views of the lush, rolling hills, and studied the menu greedily. We drooled, we negotiated ‘sharing rights’ with one another, we struggled to choose. We wanted it all.
To start, we finally opted for the venison tartare with blue cheese and smoked egg yolk purée (pictured), and the marinated goats cheese with beetroot, raspberry and gingerbread. The venison dish was truly excellent and the goats cheese medley was creative and playful. Both looked gorgeous. We were sad not to try the twice baked Lancashire cheese soufflé.
For the main course, we had the roast loin of cod with cider, mussels, leeks and smoked bacon, and the braised pork belly with scallops, samphire and barbeque sauce. The cod was exquisitely cooked and drenched in a velvety, buttery sauce. The pork belly was rich and juicy, the scallops were perfectly plump and the barbecue sauce was dirty and more-ish (I wanted to bathe in it).
Don’t be fooled into thinking that beautiful food cannot be hearty too. After two courses, even the most ambitious of our party couldn’t squeeze in any dessert. If I’d had the space, I would definitely have scoffed the blueberry soufflé with basil and lemonade sorbet. Or the pistachio cake with caramelised white chocolate and cherries…
So if you’re in the area and looking to enjoy big flavours and beautiful food in an informal setting (half of us accompanied lunch with a pint), look no further. I won’t spill the beans on the cost but I would fork out a lot more for food this good.
Flavour: High-end British in country casual setting.
Make a day of it: Play at Swallows & Amazons on Lake Windermere, a 15-minute drive away, or look for Peter Rabbit stealing carrots at Beatrix Potter’s cottage, Hill Top, a 30-minute drive from the restaurant. I can highly recommend both!
Make a night of it: Treat yourself to a night in one of their nine rooms – think up-market chintz, limestone floors with underfloor heating and roll top baths…
To book: Call 015395 68237. It does fill up so reserve ahead if you can.
Source: Pip & little blue.