‘Hyper-seasonal, climatically local cooking’ is the name of the game here, which means a tuned-in zeitgeist-hugging amalgam of ‘preserving and pickling’, ‘working with nature’ and so on. It should come as no surprise that James Cross used to work at world-beating Noma in Copenhagen before deciding to shake up touristy Ambleside with his radical cuisine.
Lake Road Kitchen serves what most people would know as a tasting menu, but the restaurant prefers not to use that terminology as it sees its dining experience as coming together as one complete meal, rather than as a sequence of dishes. Diners are given a choice between five, eight or 12 servings, with optional wine pairings available for each. All dietary requirements and intolerances/allergies can also easily be catered for.
Menus for Lake Road Kitchen are not available online and the offering changes regularly. On our visit though, we experienced wild pickings and indigenous ingredients galore, all combined in revelatory dishes with lots of new Nordic echoes: meaty snails were dressed with a fearsome green miso made in-house from peas and beans; roast squab was given a Scandi edge with lingonberries, girolles and yarrow, while a sweet caramelised scallop was enlivened with fennel shavings, bee pollen and sunflower seeds.
Elsewhere, beef carcases are dry-aged for months on end and there’s a signature dish of whole roast cauliflower basted in goat butter, while desserts might include a cleverly fashioned blackberry tart garlanded with citrusy oxalis leaves.
Lake Road Kitchen is a modest no-frills space with wooden planking on the walls, bare tables and an open-to-view working area – it’s also the kind of eatery where you’re expected to pour your own wine (sourced from Northern Europe, naturally). Note that the restaurant operates a smart casual dress code, which specifies no hoodies, walking boots, caps or rucksacks.