SquareMeal Review of
The Old Stamp House
Local lad Ryan Blackburn was one of Square Meal’s UK Rising Stars when he was cooking at The Cottage in the Wood near Keswick, but he’s now teamed up with his brother to open this new gaff in touristy Ambleside – a foodie destination on the up, we suspect. Poet William Wordsworth once used the building as his study, when he also held the post of Distributor of Stamps for Westmorland (hence the name), but it’s now gaining a reputation for what one visitor called “contemporary London-quality dishes with a Lakeland twist”. Expect emphatically seasonal cooking, with big contrasts, local sourced ingredients and wild pickings from the surrounding terrain: West Coast scallops with pig’s head, sea herbs and pickled cockles might precede Herdwick hogget with Stock Ghyll garlic, charred leeks and wood blewits or Whitehaven turbot accompanied by smoked potato, Cumbrian air-dried ham and asparagus. Desserts also have a seasonal English tang – as in strawberries with lemon curd, gingerbread and elderflower. “Friendly knowledgeable service” adds to the congenial mood in the stone-walled, flag-floored dining room. Overall, this is a place with “excellent prospects”.