Gastronomes often delight in visiting the best restaurants in the land, sampling the most sought-after ingredients prepared by the most celebrated chefs using both traditional and ultra-modern (even futuristic) techniques. Those seeking the purveyors of the most palatable dishes in England would generally focus on London, with its array of world class haunts housing some of the biggest names in cooking (when they’re not on TV).
For others, who fancy getting away from the hustle and bustle of the capital, a trip to Bray in Berkshire might be in order for either Heston Blumenthal’s ‘molecular gastronomy’ at the Fat Duck or the Waterside Inn, marshalled by Alain Roux, son of the legendary Michel.

The beautiful Lake District
The beautiful Lake District

However, for those who baulk at London’s prices and haven’t got the patience for the waiting lists of the Bray three-star venues, a trip to the Lake District could be just the ticket. Not only does the area have some of the most dramatic and beautiful scenery to be found anywhere in England, it has a smattering of excellent restaurants that stand up well to comparisons with the big-names down south.
Pick of the bunch is probably the Holbeck Ghyll Country House Hotel  which not only contains a Michelin star restaurant, it also presents guests with fantastic views over Lake Windermere. While there are many other fine hotels in Windermere, the Holbeck Ghyll describes itself as ‘more like a private home than a hotel’, and quite some private home it would have to be to compare to the outstanding rooms and suites on offer in this beautiful setting. There is even a ‘Miss Potter’ suite in which Renée Zellweger was based when filming a biopic of Beatrix Potter.
Back to the restaurant – which under the expert stewardship of head chef David McLaughlin has held its star for 12 years – and there are flavours to excite and combinations of ingredients to please the most distinguished of diners. As much as possible is sourced from the surrounding countryside, from the wild Cumbrian lobster to the local lamb and venison. Most of the fruit and vegetable come from the fertile Yorkshire hills and fields, while Scottish Salmon and Ribble Valley Goosnargh duck are forgivable exceptions to local sourcing on the basis that both taste so darn good.
Dishes that took our fancy when we visited included Rillette of Rabbit with Crostini and Truffle Cream Vinaigrette, Roast Squab Pigeon with Chouchroute and Madeira Sauce and the Roasted Wild Turbot with Crisp Boneless Oxtail and Beetroot Foam. We were in true gastronomic glee.
Sharrow Bay,  Ullswater
Sharrow Bay, Ullswater

If you are making a weekend of it in the Lakes, another restaurant that comes highly recommended is the Sharrow Bay on Ullswater in Penrith. It has been open since 1949 and – of particular interest to those with a sweet tooth – was where the now ubiquitous Sticky Toffee Pudding was actually created. Another one holding a Michelin star (as it has for near on 15 years), a 10-course tasting menu would set you back £95 per head, but a five-course lunch is a relative snip at just £45.
All in all, if you are thinking of a gastro-break in England and fancy taking in the flavours of the countryside, plumping for the Lake District could be the best decision you make in a long time.