Newly promoted Michelin starred restaurant in the Lake District serving quality dishes
Old Stamp House gained its first Michelin star in 2020 and my visit was in an ‘in between’ lockdown phase, all to the credit of the brothers reopening as soon as possible with an extremely reasonable (and good) menu. It is run by Ryan Blackburn (head chef) and his younger brother Craig on front of house and they have been there since 2014. What I experienced here was the pinnacle of dedication and service from two brothers not intent on world domination of any kind but just wanting to make their customers happy. The lunch, which was barely £40 all in per head, was outstanding value for money for what was received and all the more delightful to being coincidentally in such good hospitality hands and apparently in the same dining seat that Steve Coogan often enjoys when he visits here as well. Would love to return.
The meal started with Black pudding “bon bons” with Cumberland sauce and pickled apple which had a very good tang from the pickled apple. Oyster macarons with cucumber and sorrel were so well done – sweet, light and a wonderful crunch of meringue and lovely oyster aroma and taste. This was quality control speaking. Another bite of wild rabbit with carrot, coriander and piccalilli had a lovely crisp and was just what a canape should be – in the mouth in one and sumptuous.
Last Wolf beer bread with Winter Tarn butter was a delight and was followed by one of the nicest crab dishes I have ever had. The crab was fabulous, the delightful light tapioca crisp was light and complimentary, the amazing avocado ice cream was a dream to balance and it was heaven in a bite. This one dish was single-handedly responsible for making the whole trip worth it. Cauliflower with potted shrimps had spiced mead veloute and raisins. This had a lovely soft curry flavour running through and was hoovered up quite quickly.
A Herdwick hogget (from Yew Tree Farm) was a total delight. The mushrooms, picked in the woods around Ambleside gave a great combination all round along with the peas puréed. It also included a loin tartare with garlic emulsion (good) and wonderful, simple potatoes cooked in lamb fat – perfect.
“Queen of the Meadow” mille-feuille dessert was the only slightly low point in that the pastry a little thick and heavy and in spite of the pleasant raspberries and caramelised white chocolate, the deliberate more burnt effect of the pastry didn’t do it for me. Petit fours of Woodruff macaron and Buckthorn truffle however, were a step back in the right direction.
The two brothers were simply charming and this is a delightful far cry from egotistical teams or head chefs that you can easily find yourself surrounded by in London and this represented the best of British, in a basement in Ambleside, Cumbria. I would strongly recommend anyone to take a journey far afield for food, because this is exactly what you can stumble upon when you do. Absolute repeat worthy and a total gem experience. Thank you and well done the Blackburns.
Food Grade: 77%