I have been living and working abroad for the last 18 months and I decided to have a summer at home in Kendal, the gateway town to the beautiful Lake District. I grew up in Kendal and despite the often rainy weather, I love what it and the whole Lake District have to offer. There is so much to do here; open water swimming, rock climbing, hiking, biking, trail running and even snowboarding!
As there is a high tourist trade, there is a plethora of independent cafés, some are veggie friendly and a select few that are dedicated vegetarian. Even though I am a vegetarian, I do think it is quite brave to be a vegetarian only eatery. To be successful I think you need to have a strong and varied menu as it needs to attract all customers, not just people with certain dietary requirements. Trying to satisfy locals to tourists is quite challenging.
I will start with Pastures Pantry. This new café opened up next door to Barrow-in-Furness’ whole food shop Pastures New in February 2016. I think this is a breath of fresh air for the industrial town. My partner, Pete (who is a ‘Barrovian’) and I tend to head to the nearby market town of Ulverston for a veggie friendly lunch. We stopped by Pastures Pantry for an afternoon cake. I had the ‘Molly’ smoothie and a chocolate brownie. My smoothie was made up of banana, red berries, apple and basil. It was really tasty and refreshing. The brownie was perfectly baked. They have a set breakfast menu with a good selection then daily lunch specials such as vegetable tarts and soups.
As mentioned before, Ulverston is an alternative town with a great community feel. There are busy independent shops, pubs and food outlets that are popular and well known in the area. On the outskirts of Ulverston there is the Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre, a Buddhist temple that is really worth a visit. It has a very spiritual feel and wandering around the grounds is peaceful and relaxing. There is a vegetarian cafe there called the World Peace cafe. They also have a small outlet in Ulverston centre.
I was told about Rattle Gill in Ambleside by my good friend, Ellie. During the high season Ambleside can be extremely busy so I tend to avoid stopping there. However after a windy and wintry hike in late October, a few friends and I dropped by late afternoon. We were desperate to warm up with hot drinks and cake. I had homemade chai tea with a date and coconut slice. The cake was homemade and absolutely delicious. Some cafes in Ambleside put little effort in due to the captive tourist audience, but Rattle Gill is unique in that it is cosy, authentic and has engaging owners that care about it’s custom. For example, my hands were freezing after our snowy hike so Claire, the owner, gave me a mug of boiling water to hold. The lunch food they serve is honest, wholesome vegetarian.
I worked at Baba Ganoush Foodshop in Kendal this summer. In the past it is somewhere I have stopped for lunch as they have outstanding vegetarian options. In the foodshop they have up to 7 soup options with half of them being vegetarian. My favourite soups are spiced sweet potato and cider and white onion with cheese and croutons. The salad bar is a vegetarian’s dream with over 20 salads to choose from. For £5.95 you can have a vegetarian salad box which contains stuffed vine leaves, baba ganoush, houmous, olives and then a choice of 3 salads. It is extremely good value and tasty. I may be biased as part of my job was making the salads and baking, but the ingredients are fresh and locally sourced where possible. The vegetarian hot sandwiches are delicious, my favourite being the falafel and halloumi wrap. The hot sandwich and specials menu changes daily so there is always something new to try. The Canteen down the yard has an excellent menu for vegetarians such as meze, onion bhaji butties with mango chutney and quiche with salads.
The Brewery Arts Centre is a unique place. It’s the cultural and creative hub of Kendal providing the area with a brilliant theatre, cinema, workshops, adult education lessons, art exhibitions and two bars. It is the home of the annual Kendal Mountain Festival and venue to many other big events that happen throughout the year like Lakes Alive Festival and Summer Sundays. It also has the Grainstore Restaurant, Warehouse Cafe and Vats Bar. The cafe has quirky decor with a laid back ambiance. They serve good coffee and a variety of hot food and cakes. I regularly eat in the Vats bar where you can sit in huge barrels and do a spot of people watching. The small menu is geared towards bar snacks and pizzas. I highly recommend the pizzas as they are always piping hot and have a good vegetarian selection.