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Archive for September, 2015

I continue to be impressed by the vegetarian food on offer in the Lake District, and so I thought it was about time that I put together a little summary of all of my favourite veggie pit-stops. We’ve spent five long weekends in the Lakes already this year, and every visit seems to present us with a new place to rave about; it’s getting to the point now that we rarely have time to visit all of our local favourites in one holiday. This couldn’t be more different from my experiences only a few years back, when a microwaved veggie lasagne was about all I could expect after a day out walking in the fells.

Most of these places aren’t exclusively veggie, and for me that isn’t a big deal. While I love to visit a place with a creative menu full of vegetarian delights, what impresses me the most is an omnivorous menu that doesn’t put meat-eaters at the centre of the table and hide the veggies away somewhere in the back. All of the places below present vegetarians with a choice (shock horror) of delicious food, and rather than reserving a small corner of the menu for us, our food is included in the list of meals that any customer might actually enjoy. Brilliant.

Obviously I can’t include every veggie-friendly place in the Lakes as I haven’t been to them all; do let me know if you have any recommendations of your own!

Keswick

Saddleback Cafe has quickly gained an excellent reputation in Keswick, and I can’t say that I’m surprised. Tucked away from the main bustle of the town centre, it’s always nice to escape here for a while, though it can often be overwhelmed by passing cyclists in need of a refuel. The menu is aimed at outdoorsy types, with peanut butter and banana sarnies, excellent cakes and flapjacks, and mugs of builder’s tea for little more than £1.50. They also do a great range of daily specials, one of which is always vegetarian and quite often vegan: think veggie chilli, tagine, curry – all the favourites! They really do cater for all, with a great selection of meaty, veggie, vegan and gluten-free fare on offer.

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Little Chamonix is another new addition to Keswick’s ever-improving foodie scene, and I struggle to walk past here without stepping in for one of their excellent coffees (locally roasted in Embleton): on our most recent trip to Keswick we were in here every day. Their menu is crammed with delicious home-cooked food made with locally-sourced ingredients – some are even home-grown. It’s a great lunch spot offering traditional Swiss dishes (baked camembert with bread and honey?!) as well as soups, chilli, jacket potatoes and huge sarnies. The best thing is the cakes, though, which are all homemade – their scones are baked fresh every morning and should not be missed!

The Dog & Gun stands out from this list as I’m including it mainly for it’s amazing veggie goulash. Served with garlic bread, potatoes and dumplings, this place offers post-fell refuelling at its finest! There are definitely other veggie options available, but I haven’t tried any of them because I love the goulash too much. Meat-eaters, vegetarians, ale-lovers and dogs are all well-catered for here.

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The Pheasant Inn offers a surprisingly large selection of meat-free options, considering how traditional it appears from the outside. Veggie options are included in the main menu, and on our visit I had three main dishes and one special to choose from. The food and service is very good (you can eat in the bar or book a table in the dining area), though take a solid appetite as the portions are generous!

Ambleside

Rattle Gill Cafe was one of the great discoveries of the UT55 weekend in Ambleside. We stumbled upon it by accident when in search of lunch on the day after the event, and I could have stayed a very long time enjoying their very tempting menu. Their chilli was generous and really delicious, and certainly the cakes looked to fit the bill as well. The menu is all vegetarian, with vegan and gluten free options available.

Zeffirellis is an important part of Ambleside’s social scene, offering a restaurant, cafe, cinema and jazz bar. You don’t notice at first, but it’s all vegetarian. This is our go-to place for fuelling up before races, as their menu offers lots of tasty pasta and pizza dishes (with gluten-free options available for both) as well as chillis and roast-style dishes. I also really like their pudding menu, which has lots of lighter options including fruits and frozen yogurts.

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Fellinis is the sister restaurant of Zeffirellis, and claims to be “a new modern ‘Vegeterranean’ restaurant” offering Medeterranean-inspired veggie dishes. As far as fine dining goes, this is the best vegetarian restaurant I’ve ever been to; it manages to get the perfect balance between really sumptuous food, delicate flavours and indulgence, all without the support of meat or fish. It’s a great place for a celebration, but price-wise it isn’t any different from any of the other restaurants in Ambleside.

Ullswater

Fellbites is a lovely little place with a really relaxed feel, just of the main street in Genridding. It’s a great place to come after a day on the fells, with plenty of warming dishes for meat-eaters and veggies alike. It functions as a cafe in the daytime and turns into a restaurant at night. Friendly, with tasty food and a good menu selection.

Loweswater

Kirkstile Inn is hands-down my favourite place to eat and sleep in the Lake District. We even spent our honeymoon here, and if I hadn’t been quite so taken by the wild rice and veggie stir fry, I could have had a different veggie option every night of our stay. Not bad considering their menu is pretty small to start with! The food here is really excellent, especially when washed down with one of their own Loweswater Gold ales. Leave room for pudding – the seasonal crumble is not to be missed! And if you’re staying the night, the omelettes are life-changing – I went from omelette-neutral to omelette-mad over the course of one breakfast.

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En route to the mountains

La Casa Verde is a really magical place, nestled somewhere in the grounds of Larch Cottage nurseries. Follow the winding path through the foliage to find a magical cafe in really unique surroundings. They serve fish but no meat, and their pizzas are really wonderful, with a seriously thin base that makes them great for lunch. The cake selection is refreshingly untraditional, too. Definitely worth stopping here for a while!

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