Staying in Boot for a few days' walking there were several pubs offering food for us to choose from. A quick foray into The Woolpack for a pint after a day on the hills suggested somewhere with pretensions (notices advertising champagne by the bottle, a menu boasting 'from farm to fork' or something similar) but which proved inhospitable with surly staff and tables set out canteen style in front of a large TV screen. A pity, as the menu actually looked quite interesting. Instead we opted to eat at Brook House Inn on all 3 evenings of our trip which had the added advantage of being nearer to our accommodation at The Chalets, only half a mile away.
Walking into Brook House was an altogether different experience from the one mentioned above. It's an old-fashioned place (good!) with several interlinking rooms - bar, snug and restaurant - in which you eat from the same menu. There's a good selection of Northern beers, all well-kept and changed regularly and self-evidently the pride of the landlady. Epitomising this was our experience on the first evening when half-way through our meal a fresh round of drinks arrived at the table only for the landlady to appear and whisk one of them away, saying she was unhappy with it. (My friend had actually tasted it and pronounced it excellent.) A short while later she returned with a fresh drink from a new barrel.
Others working on the bar or serving food were equally friendly and delightful. Our young waitress went back and forth to the kitchen checking out ingredients in various dishes because of our cumulative allergies and food preferences. Another night, a waiter seemed able to have fresh drinks at our table almost without waiting, despite the numbers drinking in the bar.
This is definitely somewhere catering for hearty appetites. Portions were large and though it was recognisably 'plain cooking' the food was good: the 'specials' did change from one evening to another and the vegetables were fresh and not over-cooked. Between the three of us (over 3 nights I hasten to add) we sampled the beef in beer pie, the 'cradle' of pink lamb in a berry sauce, the huge slab of braised belly pork topped with black pudding, the chicken ballotine with a mushroom stuffing and the feta and spinach pie: not a duff plate among them. The hearty portions meant that we didn't attempt any starters although many of them looked very appealing. Puddings were equally traditional and robust - a good damson pie, accompanied by a warning about the stones; a really light plum sponge; blackcurrant pie; raspberries and meringue; a mountain of chocolate ice-cream served with shortbread.
Saturday night was very busy and booking clearly advisable but mid-September the tourist season was more or less at an end and there were plenty of spare tables on other nights. This is not a 'destination' restaurant in the generally understood sense of the word but when you're spending the day walking on the Lakeland fells it is reassuring to know that you won't have to drive miles to get a decent meal. Actually, the food here is considerably better than you will find in the vast majority of pubs in Keswick, Ambleside and Windermere. If you're staying in or anywhere near Eskdale, which is one of the more isolated parts of the Lake District, I can recommend Brook House Inn wholeheartedly.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Brook House Inn offers an ideal base from which to explore the many contrasts of the Lake District. Family owned country Inn and restaurant serving imaginative food, real ales and over 170 malt whiskies. AA 4* Inn Award winning food and beer, West Cumbria Camra pub of the year 2010. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Brook House Inn And Restaurant Hotel Eskdale
- Brook House Inn And Restaurant Eskdale, Lake District, Cumbria