Tag Archives: restaurants

Lake District Bank Holiday Loveliness

29 Aug

It was August Bank Holiday weekend, and for the third year running that meant an escape to the Lakes.

I stayed in my lovely vegan B&B Fox Hall in Kendal, which is always a pleasure, and being looked after by Sylvia and Chris always does me the world of good. It’s only 30 mins from the central Lakes so a great location for me.

I headed over on Saturday morning. The weather wasn’t great, and the Lakes were absolutely heaving. My original plan was to head into Keswick to have lunch at The Lakeland Pedlar, but Keswick was so busy and it was chucking down with rain so everyone was driving about like a nutter, that I thought I would give it a miss. I drove down to Grasmere, which was much quieter, and had a lovely bowl of soup and gf bread at Greens instead.

I then drove over to Elterwater where I parked up and walked along the Cumbria Way to Skelwith Bridge to have a coffee at Chesters by the River. Chesters make a pretty amazing coffee – probably my second favourite. First place goes to Flat White Durham mostly because I adore the barista boys and girls that work there, they are such sweeties. After coffee it was a walk in the rain back to the car, and then over to Fox Hall to check in and chill out.

Sunday morning was mixed – there were showers and the high peaks were covered in cloud. A friend from the NE drove over to join me for a walk. We set off from Grasmere and walked up to Easedale Tarn. The original plan was to head up Sergeant Man, but the cloud was right down and my walking companion was struggling a bit so we had lunch at Stickle Tarn, and then headed across the ridge to Silver How before descending to Grasmere.

It was was a really nice day’s walking, and I really enjoyed myself. We headed over to Chesters after the walk for a coffee, and some cake for my walking companion.

Bank Holiday monday dawned with torrential rain and cloud down to floor level. Frankly, it was vile.


I was meant to be meeting Amy for a walk. Amy now lives in St Bees, but used to live in the NE and walked with our Ramblers group. We met up, but decided the weather was far too disgusting for the walk we had originally planned so we cut the walk short and spent 2 hours in a coffee shop instead having a catch up and watching the vile weather out of the window.

After Amy headed home I went into Ambleside for a wander around the shops and a short walk in the rain. Then it was back to Fox Hall to get showered and changed before heading out for a meal. I had booked dinner at Lancrigg, the vegetarian country house hotel in Grasmere. I was thinking about booking there for Christmas this year, but wanted to go for a meal to see what the food was like before I did so.

Sadly, I was very disappointed with the food. Despite mentioning on several occasions that I was vegan and allergic to wheat I still ended up sick the next day, so can only assume that dairy or wheat some sneaked into my meal somewhere. I had the falafel for starter, which turned up with sourdough bread and had to be sent back. When it arrived back without sourdough bread it was ok, too heavy on the mint in my opinion. My main course was puy lentil shepherds pie. It was dull and too heavy on the celery – I hate celery and it was all I could taste. I make a better puy lentil shepherds pie myself, and it came with rather dull steamed veg. The portion was small and it was very disappointing. For dessert I chose the chocolate, toffee nut sundae. I was given some melted chocolate ice-cream in a glass – there was no toffee or nut as far as I could tell, just a lot of melted cheap chocolate ice cream with ice crystals in it – and they charged £6 for this?! The meal came to £30 for the three courses, and no alcohol (I don’t drink). It was exceptionally overpriced for the quality of food, and I was very, very disappointed. It was useful to go because it meant that I realised I did not want to book in for Christmas there at all. Such a shame as this was my birthday ‘treat’ meal out.

On Tuesday the weather was much much better, but it was also the day I was going home. Boooo hiss!

I decided to walk in Patterdale on the way home, so drove over to Cow Bridge and parked up the car. The walk I had planned was Dove Crag and Little Hart Crag: about 8 miles. It was magnificent.


It was pretty windy on the top, but I managed to hunker down behind a dry stone wall so that I could enjoy the view with my lunch. The view from the top was great because I could look down the valley to Patterdale, but also in the other direction I could look over to the Langdales, and Ambleside and Windermere – the Lake District really was laid out all around me. Fantastic.

Sadly, it was then time to go home, but I can’t be too sad because after 1 day to clean my clothes I’m off again tomorrow down to Hay-on-Wye for a night, and then on to Pembrokeshire again!

Hurrah for holidays!



Lakes Long Weekend

30 Jul

After a very, very busy July with work, I booked in a long weekend in the Lake District to recover. 🙂

So, on Friday Sean and I headed off for the Langdale Valley. We were booked to be staying on the National Trust campsite at the bottom of the Langdale Valley. Daniel and Nicola, also from Darlington Dales and Hills, were joining us and the plan was for a long weekend of big walks.

Sean and I arrived at lunch time, got the tents up in glorious sunshine, and decided to have an afternoon ramble up Lingmoor Fell and down to Chapel Stile before heading back along the valley to the campsite.



It was hot going in the sunshine, but the views of Crinkle Crags and the Langdale Pikes was absolutely stunning. We really enjoyed the walk, how could you not wish such fabulous weather and scenery. When we got back we sat in the sun for a while before getting a shower and changed and walking down the road to the Sticklebarn pub.

Last year I was really pleased with the Sticklebarn because it did an amazing vegan curry. Unfortunately, it looks like the place has been bought by the National Trust who have completely changed the menu, and now there is nothing vegan on it. 😦 I ended up with a salad, some peanuts and some chips for tea, which was disappointing. However, despite the food disaster we had a nice evening there people watching.

We got back to the campsite at 11, just as Nicola was finishing putting up her tent. Unfortunately Daniel decided not to come because he was suffering from both a bad back and a cold. It was late and had started to drizzle, so there was just enough time to wish Nicola goodnight and head off to bed.

The next morning the weather was damp and drizzly. This was the view from my tent:



I had breakfast, got myself together, and the three of us set off for St Bees to visit Andy and Amy, former members of Darlington Dales and Hills who moved to Cumbria a few months ago. The plan was to see their fabulous new cottage and have a walk along the coast with them.

Sean decided to drive to St Bees over the most terrifying mountain passes, with steep gradients and tight hairpin bends. It was fabulous scenery but a bit scary in such wet and grey weather. It was still raining when we arrived at St Bees, and was blowing a gale on the coast. However, undeterred we set off with Andy and Amy on our walk. The walk was really nice, and followed the first section of the Coast to Coast path for several miles. As we walked the weather got better and better, and by the time we arrived back in St Bees the weather was glorious!



After having a reviving cuppa at Andy and Amy’s house we left them in peace and headed back to Great Langdale for a shower and then into Ambleside for dinner. 

We went to Zeferellis for dinner. Zeferellis is a vegetarian restaurant with lots of vegan options. The restaurant was busy when we arrived, but they suggested we went upstairs to eat in the Jazz Cafe. The menu was just about the same, but it was more informal and there was a great jazz band to enjoy whilst we ate. It ended up being a fantastic evening, with excellent food, and great music. We stayed all evening, long after we finished eating. I really enjoyed Zeferellis and plan to eat there again when I go back to the Lakes in August.


After a night of extensive rain Sunday was big walk day, and I took the three of us up to Stickle Tarn and then up Pavey Arc, Harrison Stickle and Pike of Stickle before looping around and coming back down the Cumbria Way. The weather when we set off was wet, but just like the day before, improved as the walk continued.


By the time we were heading down at the end of the day the weather was pretty nice. We got back to the campsite and had a quick shower before heading to Chesters on the River and Skelworth Bridge for coffee and in Nicola and Sean’s case huge slabs of cake!

Sadly Nicola had to go home then, but Sean and I continued into Ambleside, dodged the rain showers for a bit, and then had dinner at a Thai restaurant in town who had an early evening meal deal on. After dinner we had a coffee in Esquires before driving back to the campsite. It was still fairly early so we walked to the Old Dungeon Gyll Hotel for a few drinks before bed. We sat outside under a canopy and watched the rain absolutely hammer down. 

It rained heavily all night, and was still raining as we packed down the tents. After several days of big walks we decided to have a slightly more gentle day today, and with improving weather I took Sean on one of my favourite walks around Loughrigg from Elterwater. 



We dodged the showers all day, but managed to stay mostly dry. The walk took us right past Chesters so we stopped there for lunch and a coffee, sitting in the warm sunshine, before finishing he walk about 2.30pm. 

It was an absolutely fantastic weekend. I had a fabulous time and despite the weather being really mixed, with rather too much rain, I think it would have been difficult to have have a better time. I’m back in the Lakes for the August Bank Holiday weekend and really cannot wait to get up in the hills there again.

Fresh on Bloor

30 Mar

I adore Fresh on Bloor (and that rhymes too!)

I try to restrain myself from eating there every day when I am in Toronto, the food is just soo good.

This trip has turned into a pretty busy one, so I have only managed to eat there twice on this trip so far. I ate there on Tuesday, enjoying a tomato and yellow split pea soup with cinnamon and fennel for lunch – absolutely delicious, and yesterday I ate a late lunch / early dinner there before rushing off to deliver an evening presentation to some parents at a school.

Yesterday I chose a salad to enjoy. It’s funny, but I’ve never had one of Fresh’s salads before. I’m a big salad fan, but I figured salads are easy, I can do them myself (and do nearly every day), why bother with a salad when there are lovely things like Burgers and Dragon Bowls to consume?

Well, I was wrong. Fresh salads are not simple, and they are delicious. I’ve been missing out by ignoring them until now.

I chose to enjoy the Mega Life salad which consisted of marinated tofu cubes, grilled spinach, alfalfa & sunflower sprouts, grated carrot, toasted nut & seed mix and salad greens. I chose to have it dressed with the Tahini Dressing (ground sesame, lemon, garlic and parsley).

God it was good. First off it was vast. There was loads of each of the ingredients, lovely big walnuts (I love walnuts), plenty of tofu, loads of carrot and generous amounts of spinach (yum). The dressing was delicious and worked so well with the salad.

Lets just say I’m a fan.

Rainbow Cafe, Cambridge

13 Feb

Thursday saw me in Cambridge for work, and a visit from MG, who I haven’t seen for ages. Dinner that evening was at the Rainbow Cafe in Cambridge.

I was a little unsure about whether MG would enjoy Rainbow Cafe. I have known him for a long time, and lived with him for a year, and throughout the duration I have never known him eat anything more interesting than Readybrek, Peanut butter sandwiches on white bread, and sausage and mash. It’s the same every day. Still, he was brave and decided to try vegetarian food for an evening.

Rainbow Cafe is a quaint little place, tucked down a side alley, opposite Kings College. It has a lovely chilled atmosphere and the menu includes both vegan, gluten-free and nut free options.

MG chose the Cuban Pecadillo Pie (Quorn adaption with capers, olives golden, cumin & more topped with white & then sweet
potato, sprinkled with cheese & parsley & oven baked. Served on rice & peas or turmeric rice &
salad garnish. )

I chose Ethiopian Mesir-Wat (Lentil Bowl) £8.95 vgf
Lentils, seasonal pumpkin & more, made with our special “berbere” spice mix & homemade
vegan “Niter Kibbeh” – “Ethiopian butter” – to give a true authentic flavour. Served with turmeric
rice & salad.

The food was ok. I found my choice a little bland and boring but it was fine.

We both had dessert. I chose a vegan wheat-free chocolate and coffee cheesecake, MG had the carrot cake. I really enjoyed my choice, it was lovely, but not enough coffee flavour for my tastes. MG said that his carrot cake was good, but not the best he’d ever had.

All in all the food was good, but not spectacular, but perfectly fine for a quick meal on a Thursday evening – it is a cafe and not a restaurant after all, and the atmosphere and prices are both excellent.

The Waiting Room 2

31 May

Last nights trip to The Waiting Room was as excellent as anticipated. We had a really lovely evening, with some absolutely delicious food.

Given that we knew the servings are huge there (and the fact that V had her eye on the crumble on the dessert board) the three of us decided to share a starter.

Antipasti starter

Antipasti starter

And how nice does that look?! And I have no idea what they had marinated the mushrooms in, but they tasted amazing!

The main courses, as always, all sounded absolutely delicious and as usual we all really struggled to decide what to have. L, a vegetarian, had never been to a vegetarian restaurant before and was knocked over by the amount of choice she had on the menu.

I chose the Chickpea, Red Pepper, Smoked Paprika Goulash with bubble and squeek cake, and it was delicious! V chose an amazing looking Asparagus & Hazelnut Roulade with pea crème freche, whilst L chose Cashew, Feta and Spring Onion Plait with tomato and basil sauce and pea puree.

Asparagus and Hazelnut Roulade This is V’s Asparagus and Hazelnut Roulade, doesn’t it look yummy? Sadly I couldn’t try because it had wheat in, but she tells me it was delicious.

Cashew, Feta and Spring Onion Plait L’s amazing looking Cashew, Feta and Spring Onion Plait. Again, I couldn’t try because it is wrapped up in pastry, but doesn’t it look delicious? She also enjoyed a raspberry beer with this.

Chickpea & Red Pepper, Smoked Paprika Goulash And finally, my gorgeous Chickpea & Red Pepper, Smoked Paprika Goulash, with bubble and squeek cake. I don’t usually eat a lot of potato, but this was so lovely, and wheat-free. Hurrah!

And yes, we did end up having dessert. V had the crumble she had been eyeing up all evening (apple and goodeberry – I adore gooseberries so was gutted they were in a crumble, which I couldn’t have) and L and I went for ice-cream with butterscotch sauce.

So it’s two thumbs up for the Waiting Room.We have decided that it is very important to return when they start the Summer Menu, just to check the standards are being kept as high. I doubt we will be disappointed! 🙂

The Waiting Room

30 May

I’m vegie, and I’m also wheat and dairy intollerant, but I adore food. I like to go out to eat, but I hate it when you really look forward to going out for a meal and are disappointed.

Tonight, my friends and I (one vegie, one not) are heading to an awesome vegie restaurant in Eaglescliffe called The Waiting Room. (http://www.the-waiting-room.co.uk/) Needless to say, I have never been disappointed here.

The Waiting Room is probably my favourite restaurant, and I’m so lucky to have such amazing vegie food right on my doorstep. The food they produce is seasonal, so they make the most of what is available at different times of the year.

They say:  “We use much local and organic produce, including excellent organic wines, beers, teas and freshly ground coffee. A proportion of the vegetables we use are organic, and delivered on the day they are picked, from Larchfield Community Farm. We also use free range eggs, and organic bread and milk.

The menu can also be adapted for vegan and wheat-free, which is brilliant for me. They are also award winning (receiving a nod from both The Guardian newspaper and the Vegetarian Society).

The feel of the restaurant is lovely, really rustic and homely and the waiting staff are always helpful and a delight to interact with. It’s called The Waiting Room because it is really close to Eaglescliffe railway station. So, as you might have guessed I’m really looking forward to eating out this evening.

My only complaint is their portions are huge, and it’s sooooo nice you always end up eating more than you really should, and feeling far too full for the rest of the evening!

Oh, and their home-made desserts – to. die. for!