The Brown Horse Inn, located in the heart of the Lake District, is an 1850s former coaching inn that offers its guests a comfy and modern take on a Cumbrian break. This would be a lovely hub from which to explore this region of natural beauty and charm.
Incorporating all of the best aspects of the small country pub and the cosy B&B, its rooms, or at least ours, was newly refurbished with walls in butter yellow. The bed sported a beautiful throw, the wardrobe was substantial and carried extra blankets and duvet. The exposed beams reminded one of The Brown Horse’s history. The bedroom window looked out onto an idyllic view of a country lane complete with a small red letterbox that, with a dressing of winter snow and a robin, would have been eminently Instagramable.
But many visitors come to this inn for the food, which is a considerable step above pub grub. The owners have developed the surrounding land and vegetable gardens to allow The Brown Horse Inn to be virtually self-sufficient. They have access to the game from the local shoot, too, so that meat couldn’t be fresher.
The pub is traditional, and the restaurant partners perfectly. There is an array of mismatched chairs, tables and wooden banquettes. The walls and shelves are decorated with prints, brass and copper, giving the room a timeless aura. This isn’t fake nostalgia – this is the real thing. Charles Dickens would have been happy having his lunch here.
My guest took advantage of the seasonal menu and chose Winster Valley game, apricot and black pudding terrine, served with Cumberland sauce and toasted brioche. This was a delicious starter and with a fine presentation. This first dish indicated that The Brown Horse can boast an inspired chef.
My starter had more than just a hint of the North. Haggis and Stornoway black pudding wellington with a miniature churn of whisky cream – the most imaginative ‘sausage roll’ one could ever have. The pastry was golden and flaky, and surrounded a dark and dramatic filling. That combination of black pudding and haggis is a savoury winner and a must-try here. It’s elevated comfort food, and will likely convert those who don’t naturally warm to the concept of nose-to-tail eating.
Lakes Blonde beer-battered haddock, chips, pea purée and tartare sauce was my classic main course. They serve substantial portions here, so be warned. Yes, it was fish and chips and a good old British standard, but our favourite foods have endured just because they are good – or can be. This version ticked all the boxes of taste, texture, and mouth-watering aroma.
Steak and kidney pudding was my guest’s equally traditional main course, but one which isn’t that often found on classy restaurant menus these days. Why?, I ask myself. This hearty dome was served with creamed potatoes, onion and braised carrot, and a good dose of gravy. This pud is a signature dinner at The Brown Horse and the bill of fare states ‘Freshly made every day, once they’re gone, they’re gone!’
This was a very good morning!
But if one is lucky enough to be staying here, then a nightcap could follow one’s substantial dinner; a good sleep and then it’s breakfast. All the usual suspects are on offer at The Brown Horse. If one is up for a Full English then it’s here, but I was tempted by a brekkie sausage sandwich. When a dish is so simple it is even more important that the ingredients are first class. There are no fancy techniques to create another element; there isn’t an elaborate garnish to add another dimension. This is all about excellent bread and well-spiced local sausages …and perhaps a schmear of brown sauce. I love a good sausage sandwich to start the day, and especially if someone else is making it. This was a very good morning!
Dinner menu served Monday to Sunday 6pm to 9pm
The Brown Horse Inn