Ambleside is bursting with great places to eat and drink: the town has become something of a destination for foodies over the past few years, and is a vibrant hub of restaurants, bars, pubs and cafes. From cosy daytime eateries, to sophisticated fine dining, here are our top eleven places to eat in Ambleside.
Lake Road Kitchen
An award winning, fine dining restaurant in the heart of Ambleside, a visit to Lake Road Kitchen makes for a truly memorable experience. After a stint on MasterChef in 2005, the restaurant’s chef and owner James Cross worked in some of the world’s finest kitchens before settling in the Lake District to open Lake Road Kitchen in 2014. The result is an intimate space in which the food takes centre stage: the focus is very much on quality ingredients and local produce, as well as flavours from Northern Europe. The menu is constantly changing and evolving; as a result, there are no sample menus online. Instead, guests are invited to experience a five, eight or twelve course tasting menu which changes as regularly as every day. It’s a truly special dining experience which you won’t forget in a hurry.
A definition of Wabi Sabi I found is “finding beauty in uncertain times” and I think we could all benefit from some of that right now. Wabi Sabi is a fantastic Japanese restaurant on Compston Road. They also have a little shop selling handmade Gyoza, sushi, ramen kits, sake cocktails and Japanese inspired cakes. Great food, great ambiance – what’s not to like! They are open for lunch and dinner – booking is essential.
Thinking about a winter break?
The Priest Hole Restaurant & Tea Rooms
The Priest Hole Restaurant and Tea Rooms are part of Kelsick Old Hall, one of the oldest buildings in the beautiful village of Ambleside with many original features and a lovely atmosphere. There is also a delightful outside terrace for alfresco meals on those warmer days, or just to sit and have a coffee and watch the world go by. They serve fresh home-made traditional Cumbrian/British food, all sourced locally, and accompanied by a good selection of drinks. Lunch is served from 12noon to 4pm and dinner from 4pm to 9pm.
The Flying Fleece
The Flying Fleece has just opened in July 2020, in a 15th century fulling mill. The historic mill building has recently been refurbished and the interiors have been designed to create a relaxing and cosy atmosphere that retains that recognisable traditional British pub feel. Food is served all day, while the atmosphere is casual and relaxed: diners can even enjoy their meal while admiring the working weir, millrace and wheel which still stand inside the building.
The Old Stamp House
Opened in 2014, The Old Stamp House is an award winning, fine dining restaurant headed up by Cumbrian chef Ryan Blackburn. Local produce such as Herdwick sheep and fish sourced from Barrow and Whitehaven can be found on the menu, which also features locally foraged herbs, mushrooms and game. Dishes are inspired by Cumbria, and the restaurant is located in what was once the office of William Wordsworth himself. Open for lunch and dinner, a la carte and tasting menus are both available to guests.
Zefffirelis & Fellinis
For vegetarian dining in Ambleside, look no further than Zeffirelis and Fellinis (even enthusiastic meat eaters will find something to enjoy here!). Offering a contemporary, award winning dining experience, these two friendly restaurants are local institutions. Zeffirelis focuses on Italian cuisine, with pasta and home baked pizzas on the menu; while Fellinis offers more of a fine dining experience, with creative vegetarian dishes inspired by the flavours of the Mediterranean. Both restaurants are housed in the same buildings as cinemas, showing a combination of the latest releases as well as art house movies, and cinema/dining deals are available. Zeffirelis also features a popular jazz bar for a great night out in Ambleside.
With a well deserved reputation as one of the best Thai restaurants around, Doi Intanon aims to bring a flavour of Asia to the heart of the Lakes. Owned by Chris and Busara since 2000, this welcoming Thai eatery in the centre of Ambleside is popular with both locals and visitors thanks to its authentic cuisine and delicious, freshly prepared dishes. Find classics such as Pad Thai and Thai Green Curry on the menu, alongside some Thai specialties you may not have heard of before!
A popular restaurant found in the heart of Ambleside, Dodd’s is open from noon ‘til late and welcomes guests for lunch, coffee and dinner in a relaxed environment. Known for its freshly prepared Mediterranean cuisine and friendly welcome, it’s a great place to enjoy a meal in Ambleside. Dishes are prepared using fresh local produce, while an open kitchen adds to the vibrant atmosphere.
It’s also worth noting that Dodd’s doesn’t take bookings, however there is a small bar where diners can enjoy a pre dinner drink while waiting for a table.
The Copper Pot
This popular little cafe, nestled on a side street in the heart of town, is a great place to relax and recharge while exploring all Ambleside has to offer. Slate walls and soothing tones provide the perfect backdrop to enjoy a freshly ground coffee made using Mr Duffin’s Coffee, locally roasted in nearby Staveley. Open for breakfast and lunch, as well as coffee and home baked cakes, there’s plenty of indoor seating as well as a small garden in which to enjoy those sunny Lake District days.
Hearty, homemade vegetarian cooking, served up in a cosy cafe by friendly staff: that’s exactly what you’ll find at the popular Rattle Ghyll cafe. Located next to the beck which winds its way through Ambleside, Rattle Ghyll is the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of town. Take a seat and peruse the daily papers with coffee and cake, or enjoy lunch while the beck babbles quietly in the background. The menu focuses on fresh food and decent portions, while the cake selection changes on a daily basis. For the discerning (or the indecisive!), a ‘Cake Platter’ featuring five smaller slices of cake allows for a little taste of a few different bakes.
Fancy coming to stay in Ambleside for a weekend?
The Apple Pie
An incredibly popular, well established family business, The Apple Pie Cafe and Bakery is known for its baked goods, which are made on site and served up to take away or enjoy in the cosy on site cafe. Scones, cakes and (of course!) apple pie are all on the menu, alongside locally roasted coffees, house blended hot chocolates, Farrer’s teas and a wide selection of cold drinks. For lunch, enjoy homemade soups, sandwiches, salads, pies and more.
The casual dining sister of The Old Stamp House, Kysty is a bistro which offers something a little different. Its name means ‘discerning about one’s food’ in Cumbrian, and the focus is certainly on providing well prepared, creative and delicious fare inspired by Cumbria, made using local produce. A relaxed, welcoming atmosphere awaits visitors, serving an early evening menu between 5 and 6pm(Tues – Fri), followed by dinner from 6pm to 9pm(Tues-Sat). They also serve lunch from 12am to 2pm on Saturdays.