The Lake District’s newest Michelin-starred restaurant with rooms, The Cottage in the Wood, re-opens on Friday July 10, after 16 weeks of closure.
The restaurant, in the heart of Whinlatter Forest 1,000ft up on the pass between Keswick and the Western Lakes, will at first open for dinner to residents only, so that distancing measures and dining numbers can be more easily managed, and to make guests’ experience as safe and as comfortable as possible.
The restored 17th century coaching inn will re-open for lunch (Thursdays to Saturdays) to both residents and non-residents on Friday July 17. Owners Kath and Liam Berney say the restaurant, which won its first Michelin star under chef director Ben Wilkinson in October 2019, will re-open for dinner to non-residents as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Liam said: “We were on such a roll before Covid-19, with the Michelin star a real boost for Ben, the business and the whole team, and also winning Lancashire Life and Cumbria Life food awards.
“It’s been a difficult time for everyone in the hospitality sector but the furlough scheme has been a lifeline for everybody and we’ve used the downtime positively to think about the future of the business and our next steps, and it means we are able to welcome back our wonderful staff team this week.”
Liam said the restaurant will re-open to residents with a 50% reduction in capacity to 16, to allow for physical distancing, and this will be in place until distancing guidance changes. It will be offering its eight-course tasting menu and a four-course set dinner menu.
“There will be some changes to service to reduce unnecessary contact but we will try to keep our usual personal approach.
“We are confident that our unique forest location and the small scale of our business will provide a safe and relaxing visit, along with some great food. We very much look forward to welcoming guests old and new to ‘The Cottage’.”
Chef Ben oversees the restaurant side of the business with his partner, restaurant director Monika Zurawska, who runs front of house.
Ben said: “It’s a great feeling to be planning the reopening, reconnecting with our great suppliers and writing new menus. I’m so pleased to be able to say we have kept our team intact, in fact we have added to the brigade with a new chef.
“It’s been good to have some time to think about what we do for our guests and what we can do better. The new menus are really going to show what’s special about The Cottage and Cumbrian food.
“I’ve never had so much time out of my Kitchen, my hands have gone soft. I just hope it’s not too hard to get going again. I expect I’ll sleep well after the opening weekend.”
Meanwhile the business is also looking to offer two Hospitality Apprenticeships to school or college leavers. Both Ben and Monika benefited from a sound education and training in the hospitality industry, and feel anxious about the restricted opportunities likely for school and college leavers this summer. Further information is available at www.thecottageinthewood.co.uk.
The Cottage in the Wood opens Tuesday to Saturday for dinner, bed and breakfast. Room rates are inclusive of the Cottage in the Wood’s four-course dinner menu, highlighting the best seasonal produce and changing daily. The restaurant will continue to offer its popular eight-course Taste Cumbria menu with a £20 supplement. Menus and wine list will be available on the website, and will include paired wines and recommended wines.
While the Cottage’s nine rooms are currently restricted to two-nights, single night accommodation may become available, and they will release these rooms on their bookings page a couple of weeks in advance.