The Forest Side

British, Modern European·
Gold Award

SquareMeal Review of The Forest Side

Gold Award

The Lakes can feel inaccessible without your own car, but for those public transport users amongst you, The Forest Side couldn’t be easier to get to - trains to Windermere are frequent these days, and a short bus ride gets you right outside the hotel.

As the name suggests, The Forest Side wants to blur the line between inside and outside, translating the Cumbrian landscape into an intriguing tasting menu. Take a walk around the gardens and you’ll see chefs foraging in the grounds, nabbing ingredients from the kitchen garden or wild surroundings.

Lots of these ingredients find their way onto the subsequent tasting menu. Oyster and green strawberry seem an unlikely pairing, but they turn out to be perfect partners, merging gentle salinity and fresh, fruity acidity. Tiny, bursting summer peas pop up in a dish of rabbit and elderflower, and a beautiful piece of aged lamb - rose pink in the centre - is served with turnip from the garden and a foraged hen of the woods mushroom. A langoustine - gently cooked over coals and served with a smoky butter sauce and a crisp garden leaf - is utterly sublime.

No dish is taken a step too far - this is a kitchen cooking with huge understanding of flavour, but also with restraint. Even a dish of chocolate and sea buckthorn - the latter is so often the bane of a tasting menu - works, because the buckthorn is kept on a leash.

Cocktails are similarly excellent - The Forest Side will happily whip up a classic, but don’t miss out on signature cocktails like the cherry blossom negroni. Like the food, the bar menu endeavours to make use of local, wild ingredients, and does a fine job with them.

As for the restaurant itself, the tall ceilings and a series of windowed patio doors give the room a bright, spacious vibe. On nicer days the doors open out onto a patio, which overlooks the gardens. All in all, The Forest Side is well worth its outstanding reputation, and undoubtedly deserves to be seen as one of the best restaurants in the Lake District.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - Over £80
British, Modern European
Cosy, Fine dining, Luxury, Quiet conversation, Romantic, Traditional, Widely spaced tables
One Michelin star, SquareMeal UK Top 100
Food Occasions
Dinner, Lunch
Alfresco And Views
Outside seating, Terrace
Special Features
Vegetarian options
Perfect for
Romantic, Special occasions
Food Hygiene Rating


Set inside a fairytale gothic mansion, The Forest Side is both a hotel and award-winning restaurant set against the stunning surrounds of the Lake District. The Forest Side restaurant has held onto its Michelin star since 2017, with head chef Paul Leonard at the helm of the kitchen. Serving food that’s firmly rooted in the landscape of the lakes, utilising the best seasonal produce and pairing it with wines from small organic and bio-dynamic producers, The Forest Side’s commitment to sustainability and innovation has led it to be considered one of the best restaurants in Cumbria.  

Diners are made to feel as connected to their surroundings as possible. The bright and airy restaurant overlooks a terrace which offers views of lush green lawns and beautiful woodland. A muted colour palette inside, as well as lots of reclaimed timber and steel tables, earthenware plates and a stunning centrepiece table made from a windblown tree contribute to the sense of the restaurant's place amongst nature.  

Only tasting menus are available, although guests are able to choose between six and eight courses for lunch and dinner respectively, with vegetarian options available, too. Examples of dishes you might find include spring peas with Herdwick lamb and smoked yoghurt, BBQ Shetland mussels, salt-aged duck roasted on the crown with morels glazed in truffle juice, and first-of-the-season rhubarb with cultured buttermilk and shiso.  

The wines share the same philosophy as the food with a focus on local, all-natural products. Each one is sourced from artisan makers who produce quality wines on a small scale and are made with no artificial chemicals, minimum sulphur dioxide and natural fermentation techniques. The cocktails, meanwhile, feature foraged ingredients, including one aptly named Forager made with pineapple-infused vodka, homemade ginger beer and lime. Meals here are best enjoyed with an overnight stay.


Who is the head chef?

The head chef is Paul Leonard.

Helpful? 0

Does the restaurant have a Michelin star?

Yes, it has one Michelin star.

Helpful? 0

Can you stay there?

Yes, the restaurant has rooms.

Helpful? 0


The Forest Side Hotel, Keswick Road, Grasmere, Cumbria, LA22 9RN

01539 435250 01539 435250


Opening Times

Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed Closed
Thu Closed
Fri 12:00-14:00
Sat 12:00-14:00
Sun 12:00-14:00
Mon 18:30-20:00
Tue 18:30-20:00
Wed 18:30-20:00
Thu 18:30-20:00
Fri 18:30-20:00
Sat 18:30-20:00
Sun 18:30-20:00


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1 Review 

Karen W

21 March 2018  
A calm and hushed atmosphere always pervades here, which adds to the lovely food and comprehensive wine list. It can be a little formal, if not chilly, but I like it's measured pace. Time slows down at Galvin. .
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01539 435250 01539 435250

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