Had heard from some co-workers that The Drunken Duck was the best pub in the Lake District and they were spot on. The Drunken Duck is not just the best pub in the Lake District but also fantastic food, service and view.
We booked in advance and everyone in the area seemed to know it and rave about it. We were also told to get there a bit before dinner to enjoy the view with a drink outside. The directions are not very clear and our mobiles were not working well but we made it just in time to enjoy 10 minutes of the nice view (won’t blow you away after the views you would get while hiking). And we earned dinner by doing a very steep hike that for some mysterious reason was ranked moderate earlier that day…
Our waiter came to chase us outside with a menu so we could order food and we immediately thought we were under the two hours limit and they would kick us out like it often happens in London but they stagger reservations so the kitchen doesn’t get overwhelmed – but you can linger after your meal if you want.
The dining area is simple but with cute touches and the bar area is adorable with real hops hanging on the ceiling.
What we ate:
Amuse of lobster bisque with salt cod brandade in a little spoon. Both delicious, the bisque was rich without being too thick and even Stewart, who usually doesn’t gravitate to lobster, loved it. The sourdough bread was warm and crunchy and the smear of butter was at the perfect temperature and a bit salty like it should be.
Salmon with beetroot and radishes: was a special that day and the consistency of the salmon was gorgeous, smoked lightly but not thinly sliced like it normally is but served in mini fillets, with a mix of red and yellow beets all around. Light and elaborate but simple at the same time.
Celeriac, king oyster mushroom, horseradish and mushroom broth: they first brought the dry ingredients and then poured the mushroom broth on top. It was a lovely presentation and very light but also complex with all the flavors working well together – the perfect taste of fall on a plate. If the broth had been a little hotter, it would have been perfect.
Duck breast with pumpkin, lentils, bacon and truffle: neither of us are huge duck fans but fall ingredients are also not Stewart’s favorite and most other dishes were even more seasonally inspired with tastes like parsnips, beans and swish chard – and the duck had bacon and that makes any dish immediately Stewart friendly. The duck was cooked to perfection, pink in the middle and not to gamey. The lentils and bacon were a nice compliment and he cleaned the plate, apart from the pumpkin which I happily stole from him.
Stone bass with Swiss chard, girolles, Jerusalem artichokes and white beans: wow, this is really what fish dishes want to be when they grow up. White flaky fish with crunchy and delicious skin (I love chicken skin and pork cracklings but not fish skin usually) that I devoured. The Jerusalem artichoke puree with the beans and the chard all danced around the plate until I ate every last bite – Stewart had a couple of bites and I believe he wishes he had ordered the fish as he loved it too.
Cheese: we had a hard time resisting the local cheese plate with four UK cheeses. Our favourites were the Colston Bassett stilton and the amazingly creamy but strong and a bit stinky (good quality in my book when related to cheese) Ragstone goat cheese.
Caramel chocolate bar with peanut ice cream: despite being extremely happy and full at this point I couldn’t help order this dessert. The bar was a thicker chocolate and caramel mouse on top of a thin shortbread crust enveloped in chocolate with a side of slightly salted and delicious peanut ice cream.
In sum: this is what gastro pubs should be. We keep finding them when away like the Wild rabbit (http://www.thewildrabbit.co.uk/) in the Cotswolds (http://www.samstewartetc.com/wild-rabbit-review/). The Drunken Duck. It is the best pub in the Lake District but we wish they had a sister restaurant in London, preferably close to our place so it could become our local where we could go often….
The Drunken Duck http://drunkenduckinn.co.uk/dining/
Barngates Ambleside Cumbria LA22 0NG +4415394 36347