The road trip has now taken us from Northumbria to Cumbria and we arrive at The Punch Bowl at Crossthwaite after a long twisting drive over hills and through fog. We are quickly seated next to a very large and very loud group of diners. So loud we are unable to hear each other in normal conversation. Shimi, who looks after us all evening, eventually helps to move this group into the coffee lounge in the interests of everyone else in the restaurant.
I have a very pleasant blonde beer and Rock has a glass of decent Viognier. Rock, as she often does, passes on the starter. Ever the glutton, I have to try the Stornaway black pudding with bubble & squeak and a crispy hen’s egg. It is fabulous in every way – beautifully presented and full of flavour.
Rock has the pan fried halibut with a crab bisque, crab wonton and fennel. The halibut is perfectly cooked and the crab wonton and bisque are full of south east Asian flavours. She loves everything except the rough and hard fish skin which must be there for decoration because it cannot be eaten. I am given the most enormous beef cheek I have ever seen on a dinner plate – served with horseradish, wild mushrooms, creamed potatoes and borderlaise sauce. Even though it is fabulously tender, I am unable to eat it all.
For dessert, I barely have enough room to share the lemon tart which comes with a fabulous damson sorbet. The creamy zing of the lemon tart works superbly well with the rich tang of the sorbet. It is sensational!
Well this has been an extraordinary welcome to Cumbria. The food was magnificent, the service from Shimi both excellent and entertaining and restaurant manager, Lorraine, looked after us very well too. If you are in the area of the southern lakes and you need a high class dining experience, The Punch Bowl is unlikely to disappoint.