Thirlspot, KESWICK, CA12 4TN
In the heart of the Lake District, Helvellyn, the third highest peak in England, towers above this 17th-century coaching inn; the long, whitewashed building and its delightful beer garden enjoy great views of the surrounding fells, while indoors the traditional bar features old beams and an inglenook fireplace. In addition to several regulars from the Cumberland brewery, there are guest real ales and a fine selection of wines and malt whiskies. In the bar, paninis, sandwiches and jacket potatoes head the lunchtime options, which also feature a deli board, a ploughman's and an old-fashioned pork, Stilton and red onion marmalade pie with piccalilli and salad garnish. It's in the restaurant, which looks out to the glacial valley of St Johns in the Vale that dinner might begin with ham and foie gras terrine, toasted bloomer and pickles; wild mushroom, Stilton and walnut tart, salad and basil pesto; or a hunter's skillet of pan-fried chicken livers, wild mushrooms, bacon and garlic croûte. A meal might continue with lemon- and herb-crusted sea bass, dauphinoise potatoes, baby vegetables and garlic butter; haddock in Jennings beer batter, hand-cut chunky chips, tartare sauce and mushy peas; or root vegetable and butterbean stew. Finish with mixed winter berry crumble and crème anglaise; or 'original' Cumbrian sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream. There's a separate set price steak menu on offer Mondays to Saturdays, with Sunday lunches featuring roast Cumbrian beef, pork and chicken, a poached salmon fillet and a vegetarian option.