Cordon blow! Cumbria restaurant is voted the bst in the world by TripAdvisor… but a  nearby café in the same town gets better reviews for its jacket potatoes and egg sandwiches

  • Michelin starred eatery Old Stamp House won TripAdvisor’s ‘best in the world’
  • But a café down the road in Ambleside, Lake District, tops the tourist town’s list
  • Fresher’s Café is billed as ‘the friendliest café in Ambleside’ and offers £6 meals

With delicacies ranging from black pudding ‘bon bon’ to scallops with a spiced mead veloute, diners lucky enough to get a table at the Old Stamp House are left in no doubt that they have firmly entered the world of fine dining.

Indeed the efforts of Michelin-starred chef-proprietor Ryan Blackburn in scouring Cumbria for the finest local produce have now landed his tiny restaurant the stunning accolade of ‘best in the world’ from TripAdvisor.

But one look at the customer reviews section on the very same website reveals that the 28-cover venue comes in at only No 2 in the popular Lake District tourist town.

For just down the road is Fresher’s Café, where main meal options include jacket potatoes, quiche lorraine and egg mayonnaise sandwiches.

Billed as ‘the friendliest café in Ambleside’, for barely £6 customers can fill up with a healthy handmade sandwich and a cup of tea – compared with £75 per head plus wine for the dinner tasting menu at the Old Stamp House. 

Just down the road from Michelin-starred the Old Stamp House is Fresher’s Café, where main meal options include jacket potatoes, quiche lorraine and egg mayonnaise sandwiches

The Old Stamp House beat world-famous restaurants such as La Maison d’à Côté in Montlivault in France and Ise Sueyoshi in Tokyo to its accolade in the TripAdvisor Travellers Choice 2021 awards

Both restaurants were, in their own way, toasting their successes yesterday.

The Old Stamp House – housed in the former offices of Lakes poet William Wordsworth, who was Westmorland’s distributor of stamps for a time – beat world-famous restaurants such as La Maison d’à Côté in Montlivault in France and Ise Sueyoshi in Tokyo to its accolade in the TripAdvisor Travellers Choice 2021 awards.

‘My first reaction was disbelief when I saw we were ranked No 1 in the world,’ Mr Blackburn said. 

‘It’s a great boost for the whole team. You see a lot of criticism of TripAdvisor, but I’ve found it a good source of feedback as we’ve worked to improve.’

However, when it comes to local bragging rights, Mr Blackburn accepts there can only be one winner. 

‘My dad said, “How can you be the best restaurant in the world when you’re not even the best restaurant in Ambleside?”’ he laughed. I’ve never been to Fresher’s Café, but what they’re doing must be phenomenal!’

Billed as ‘the friendliest café in Ambleside’, for barely £6 Fresher’s Café customers can fill up with a healthy handmade sandwich and a cup of tea

The Old Stamp House boasts delicacies ranging from black pudding ‘bon bon’ to scallops with a spiced mead veloute

For his part, Fresher’s Café owner Jacob Williams said achieving the No 1 TripAdvisor customer review ranking out of Ambleside’s 65 restaurants and cafés had never been his objective.

‘When we opened in 2017, the first six months were so quiet I didn’t think we were going to survive,’ he said.

‘Eventually things picked up, but even getting into the top 20 on TripAdvisor was something I thought was out of reach.

‘We’ve just concentrated on serving simple, home-cooked food in a friendly, unpretentious atmosphere, and people have been really kind.’

Mr Williams, 28, manages the café with his mother, Liesel, while his 88-year-old grandmother Doris Almond bakes all the cakes – sometimes as many as seven a day.

‘I’ve never been to the Old Stamp House, but I wish them every success,’ he added.

‘They’re obviously very good at what they do, and it’s brilliant for Ambleside.’

The Old Stamp House 

Black pudding ‘bon bon’ with Cumberland sauce and pickled apple

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Arctic char ‘ikejime’ Cerviche with radish and rhubarb

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Yew Tree Farm Herdwick Hogget: Braised shoulder – peas / Scrumpet – mint and anchovy / Tartare of loin / ‘Tattie pot’

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Queen of the meadow with bee pollen, apple marigold and strawberries infused with sweet cicely

Examples from £75 tasting menu 

 

Fresher’s Café

Full breakfast – two bacon, two sausages, fried egg, beans, mushrooms, tomato and toast – £7.50

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Quiche Lorraine served with a side salad and a handful of crisps – £6.50

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Jacket potato and cheese, beans, or coleslaw and a side salad and a handful of crisps – £7.50 

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