It's been a busy last few weeks with wedding preparations, the actual wedding and the tiredness after that we decided to take a few spring days away in the Lake District. As most people do before they head anywhere that they have never visited before is to use the modern day Lonely Planet - Facebook. After a simple "Heading to the Lake District tomorrow for a couple of days. Any recommendations - What to see and where to eat/drink?" status there were many responses but one that got mentioned at least five times was The Drunken Duck in Ambleside (the middle of nowhere). Surely five people can't all have had a lucky good meal? We decided to call and book. "Hello - Could we book a table for 3 (yes 3 as our friend from Australia join us for our mini-moon!) for tonight at around 8.30 please" They were full all evening on a Wednesday. This was a good and bad sign. Good because it was obviously popular and bad because we couldn't get in. "How about tomorrow evening?" I asked.. "Yes we can do 9pm". We were booked in.
We were staying on Windermere, which seems to be 20 minutes from everywhere in the Lake District. However, with the main road from Windermere to Keswick closed if you wanted to go and explore, you were forced to go the scenic route up some very narrow, and sometimes shit scary, passes. One of which was called "The Struggle" - a name very fitting for the steep climb. It was raining. Typical springtime in the UK. We eventually got to the otherside and explored some wonderful scenery around Buttermere and Derwent Water and after a few hours decided we should tootle back. The rain was still quite heavy and turned to sleet then snow as we climbed the Kirkstone Pass "Aaaaah it feels all Christmassy" said the good lady in the passenger seat. It's almost May! As we climbed higher the rainy sleety snow got thicker and the cars in front got slower and more petrified. "We could be in a bit of bother here" I muttered just loud enough to wake the Australian in the back who had fallen asleep when the surroundings were a lush green colour. It was now very white - Quite exciting for a man who has to "Go to the snow" in his own motherland. The snow got thicker and the cars in front bailed. It was getting thick but not thick enough to contemplate a night in the car on top of a big hill. As I as just about to creep by them a BMW stormed passed - probably a local who had to put up with this everyday of his life from October - April. The car fell silent as the sat-nav told me that we had 5 miles of this road and nobody spoke for about half an hour. We eventually made it to the bottom after becoming a pace setter for the only other queue survivor who had risked it. It was definitely more dicey going down than up!
8.30pm arrived and we set off to find the Drunken Duck. I actually think it is only a mile from where we were staying as the crow flies but yep you guessed it - 20 minutes in the car. We later realised that we could have taken the ferry but where's the fun in that.
On arrival we just full in love with the place. The large car park across the road was rammed so we parked easily on the roadside. The views at dusk looking back towards Windermere were still very impressive. On entry we were greeted by two friendly members of staff who automatically make you feel at home. The bar area was pretty cool and buzzing with decor right up our street with a hunting theme throughout. We got shown to our table which was situated under a large gold framed mirror in the dining room. This was a place where you could be the only couple (or trio in our case) in there and it would still have a lovely atmosphere. Drinks arrived with the menus and we all pondered what we were going to have - the issue being that we could have chosen at least 3 things each for both starter and main courses. Minds were eventually mad up and we opted for two duck leg parcels and the smoked salmon special to start and a rump and shoulder of lamb, cod with braised beef (a match made in heaven) and sea trout. I instantly had food envy as the starters arrived as I was the one who had ordered the salmon. It was delicious with a rye crisp and wasabi mayo but the duck parcels looked incredible.
Before the mains arrived it was time to order drinks to compliment the food. A bottle of Valpolicella red arrived to compliment the lamb, a glass of 2014 Chablis for the seas trout and.... a lemonade for me as the driver to compliment absolutely nothing but a clean driving license. On arrival the three dishes looked delightful yet not fine dining by any stretch which was a blessing to all concerned. The lamb was cooked perfectly accompanied by "the best ever" jersey royals, the see trout served with new potatoes, broccolini and pesto melted in the mouth and my cod, spiced beef brisket, charred leeks, mash was just awesome with each mouthful different but tasting equally as good. We all agreed at this point that this was up there with the best we had had.
As we were on a bit of a high we all decided that we had to sample a pudding. This also called for another drink selection from our antipodean friend as a glass of Lustau San Emilio Pedro Ximinez sherry was ordered to partner the cinder toffee doughnut while I opted for the treacle cake, pale ale and muscovado ice cream which for someone without a sweet tooth was an truly incredible.
The evening drew to a close but not before the staff excelled themselves again with the arrival of two espresso martinis that were not on the menu..
"Excuse me - do you do espresso martinis?"
"No.. but we can - I'll bring them over"
That was the perfect ending to what we all agreed to be possibly the best all-round meal that any of us had experienced and if it was 20 minutes away from us here in the Cotswolds, it would be very dangerous indeed!
Ramblings from The Cotswolds Gentleman.