The Punch Bowl Inn, in the Lyth Valley south of Windermere, is set down off the road next to an old parish church, surrounded by trees and combining a traditional inn feel with modern restaurant features.
We received a warm welcome from the front of house staff and perused the menu with a drink in the bar before the manager came to take our order. The friendliness of the staff put us all at ease.
There were time restrictions (we arrived at 3.30pm on Sunday and last food orders is 4pm), which made our choices from this stunning a la carte menue a bit easier to make.
To start, my wife Liz chose seared Loch Fyne scallops with white chocolate and truffle risotto and I went for the smoked duck, pear, vanilla and hazelnut.
As a main I chose roast venison haunch, curried cauliflower, blackberries, puy lentils and sweet potato crisps (£18.50), and Liz went for loin of cod, shellfish beurre blanc, smoked mussels, pink firs and purple broccoli (£16.50).
Our daughter Zoe had a mini roast (which turned out to be huge), and son Will insisted on sausage, mash and vegetables. Presentation-wise, the starters were faultless, and the combination of tastes and textures gave our tastebuds something new and exciting to consider.
The mains arrived within 10 minutes, and it was more of the same on the looks front. The venison was wonderfully tender, and again, the choice of combining blackberries with curried cauliflower was a winner.
Will and Zoe wolfed theirs down, and the waiter knew to ask us if they wanted dessert so we could finish our mains in peace. Will pointed out that the rich, creamy, chocolate ice cream he got was better than the one at home!
It transpired that both Liz and I had spotted the damson and gin creme brulee with caramel popcorn and clotted ice cream on the specials board on our way in, so there were no arguments there. By far this was the best creme brulee I’ve ever tasted.
Head chef Scott Fairweather has well and truly carved his name onto the specials board of the North West culinary map, and coupled with the professionalism, location, and style of the Punch Bowl, this is a winning recipe for all involved.