Ben Wilkinson’s Michelin-starred restaurant with rooms in the Lake District serves up quietly confident cooking in a captivating setting
Situated 1,000ft up in a Lake District forest, The Cottage in the Wood, near Keswick, not only provides its guests with a unique locale, but also proves there’s excitement in the Cumbrian food scene to be found much further north than Simon Rogan’s Cartmel empire.
Once a coaching inn on the Whinlatter Forest pass, the 17th Century site been transformed over the past 19 years by owners Kath and Liam Berney from a traditional bed and breakfast to a cosy but contemporary restaurant with rooms offering modern British food that is both simple and sophisticated.
Cumbria’s legendary produce provides a rich larder for chef director Ben Wilkinson, who won his and The Cottage’s first Michelin Star in 2019 – within 18 months of joining the team. The eight-course ‘Taste of Cumbria’ menu features Herdwick hogget from the surrounding fells; freshly landed fish and shellfish from west coast harbours; and a host of wild foods foraged from the forest.
Sample dishes include cured chalk stream trout with oyster cream, dill and cucumber; Herdwick hogget loin with white asparagus, turnip and wild garlic; and douglas fir with blackberry and yoghurt.
Wrapped in woodland, the scenery is every bit as natural and honest as the cooking. The Cottage in the Wood prides itself on offering a setting that is bursting with charm. Simultaneously cosy and airy, guests dine surrounded by views of England’s highest mountain forest, where red squirrels frequently roam. When night falls, candles are lit, and the Lake District’s starry canopy emerges above the woodland, the magic of the night making everything seem a little brighter.