“We have a saying around here” our taxi driver tells us as he hurtles along the rain soaked road towards The Queen’s Head. “Go to London and die”. Cheerfully, he informs us that in London if the pollution does not get you the muggers will. We assure him that we had survived so far although I suppose he did have a point on the pollution. We have only been in the Lakes District for half an hour and I am already noticing the difference in the clean crisp air.
MTV boyfriend, Alice, Liv and I have decided that a weekend of long walks and even longer lunches in the Lakes District is in order. We are staying at The Queen’s Head a 400 year old coaching inn in Troutbeck a little village just out of Windemere. Given the fabulous convenience of eating, drinking and sleeping at the same place and the fact that the food is pretty good we manage to eat dinner at The Queen’s Head both nights of our stay. The food is described as “gourmet pub food” and features good quality produce with simple, hearty flavours.
The set menu is excellent value offering three courses for £20 while ordering a la carte resulted in what our taxi driver would have referred to as “London prices” of up to £28 for the steak. Starters of mussels arrived in a huge pot and doused in a fragrant creamy broth. The vegetable terrine from the set menu was not quite as exciting featuring roasted peppers and zucchinis pressed into a terrine shape and served chilled with a scattering of salad leaves.
The serving size of the mains is clearly aimed at people who have worked up a large appetite with a long walk that day. A super size lamb shank is served with roasted vegetables and a dark red wine jus. The meat is buttery and soft from all that slow cooking. The £28 steak is also a generous size and the meat is earthy but slightly over cooked. This happens both nights. Not really enough to complain about but I think the kitchen needs to reconsider their definition of what is medium and medium-rare.
Desserts are of the old fashioned hot pudding variety. Just the thing for a night when the rain lashes against the pub windows. Sticky toffee pudding is dense and sweet with lashings of toffee sauce to mop up the pudding. MTV boyfriend cannot resist the creme brulee which is well caramelised to the extent it takes quite an effort with the spoon to break into the creamy custard underneath.
Service is friendly and affable throughout. Particularly when we are unhappy with the bottle of pinot that we have ordered (not corked just not very nice) the waitress takes it back and replaces it with a bottle of rioja for the same price assuring us that this is her personal favourite and we will much prefer it. She is right.
For a weekend away from the mugging and pollution with a touch of gourmet we were pretty happy with The Queen’s Head.
Details: Townhead, Troutbeck, Cumbria LA23 1PW (Ph 015394 32174)
If you liked this you may be interested in reading about another English pub with good food where you can stay the night – The Miller of Mansfield in the Cotswolds.