Restaurant review - The Pheasant Inn at Bassenthwaite Lake, Cockermouth

Quaint, cosy, rustic and charming. But The Pheasant near Bassenthwaite Lake delivers hospitality and food to the highest 21st century standards Review BY LOUISE ALLEN-TAYLOR

The Pheasant Inn at Bassenthwaite reeks of old world charm. But exactly how old is this atmospheric hotel and restaurant?

Even managing director Matthew Wylie is foxed by that one. ‘It’s centuries old, about 500 years or so, but we’re not sure exactly. It was a farmhouse, then a coaching house.’

One thing’s for sure, as the name suggests, it’s always had a connection with country pursuits. There are hunting scenes on the walls, a brace of shotguns over the fireplace in the cosy lounge and the odd stuffed game bird here and there.

It has a spanking new rustic bistro and a very elegant fine dining area but the rest of the Pheasant Inn is a rare and delightful jumble of period charm. Most characterful of all is the pub room: dark wood, polished deep red walls, and a low bar behind which is an array of over 60 malt whiskies to tempt the tippler.

When we stayed in mid-August, news reports were bemoaning a lack of visitors to the Lake District - even worse than during the foot and mouth crisis. No such worries at The Pheasant. They were fully booked for most of the season. It’s not difficult to see why visitors come to this hotel, prettily set in mature woodland gardens.

The bistro opened a couple of years ago and allows casual diners to get some idea of the delights. This is gastropub food at its best. The menu includes British traditional dishes delivered with flair and using good local ingredients.

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My starter of a crab linguine (�7.50) was worthy of any top Italian ristorante. My husband was very enthusiastic about his generously proportioned potted shrimp starter (�9.50). We recommend the main course of pork belly with Dauphinoise potatoes, apple compote and ceps sauce - delicious - (�14.99), or the braised beef with creamy mashed potato and green beans.

The Fell Restaurant, overlooking those pretty gardens, offers excellent stylish cuisine in an elegant setting. Clearly this is a kitchen team at the top of its game. Fabulous local breads (choose from walnut, coriander, paprika) and amuse bouche are delivered with the chef’s compliments.

I particularly enjoyed the fillet of sea trout with saffron potatoes, baby spinach, courgette, samphire and lemon cream (�20). Mr Taylor raved about the rump of cumbrian lamb with carrots, baby leeks, fondant potato and tomato and basil jus (�20). There’s also an impressive wide-ranging wine list.

Louise Allen-Taylor was a guest of The Pheasant Inn at Bassenthwaite Lake, Cockermouth, Cumbria, CA13 9YE.Email: website Tel: 017687 76234.

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