Thursday, 30 January 2014

Return to the Drunken Duck

January is so unremittingly grey, isn’t it?  I don’t suppose it helps that I work for the civil service, whose favoured decorating choice of gruel tones matches the current sky exactly.  But the lack of sunshine is beginning to drag – I’ve even taken to swigging a foul tasting iron and vitamin supplement every morning in an attempt to perk myself up.
D and I decided that a brief escape somewhere was entirely necessary to soothe away our January blues.  We first visited The Drunken Duck in Ambleside last year on our way to L’Enclume, and, on the strength of a very decent lunch, identified it as a place to which it would be prudent to return.  It turns out that they offer exceptionally reasonable midweek deals and so it was Monday morning found us striking out for the Lake District instead of heading into the office.  Hurrah.

Whilst (being a fully paid up tea drinking typical Englishperson) money is not an area that I like to dwell on too much on this blog, I really do have to marvel at the incredible value offered by the Duck on this occasion. For two hundred and fifty of your English pounds the two of us got not only bed, breakfast and evening meal but lavish afternoon tea on arrival and lunch before departure, arriving home as plumptiously well fed as a couple of foie gras geese (as sadly confirmed by the Scales of Doom the following day).  The quality throughout was unfailingly good – perhaps not haute cuisine but rather warm, generous, heartfelt, extremely accomplished comfort food all served up in a breathtakingly beautiful location.  And there was a pub cat called Dotty who curled up in front of the fire with us while we indulged in a post dinner single malt.  I think there is a room in Heaven that looks a bit like that.

Food wise, as I said, all good.  Afternoon tea, consisting of sandwiches, scones and a variety of cake, was fabulous with passion fruit and chocolate macarons being particular highlights and an appropriately lavish amount of cream arriving to smear on the scones.  I was also gratified to see the delicately trimmed crustless sandwiches.  It's just not afternoon tea if there are crusts.
Dinner was also excellent.  Our stand out dish of the evening was a kipper scotch egg with brown sauce – a stroke of absolute genius, perfectly executed. 

We shared roast duck for a main course.  The leg, in particular, was intensely flavoursome.  The breast could have been a little pinker for our tastes but it was still crispy skinned and succulent and the accompanying honey roast parsnips were positively ambrosial.

Even our greed has its limits and so we opted to share a dessert – Arctic roll with plums and pink peppercorn meringues.  A good reimagining of a childhood favourite and those fiery little meringues were an interesting addition.

The feeding by no means ended there – we waddled down for breakfast the next morning where we forced (forced, I tell you) ourselves to partake of Eggs Benedict and pancakes with bacon and maple syrup respectively – it simply would have been rude not to do so.  I was all for hunkering down in the lounge with a book at this point but we both felt that it would be a shame to come to the Lakes and not partake of some fresh air – albeit with a side order of drizzle.  So we donned waterproofs and went for a plod around Ambleside.  Which appears to completely shut down in January. 

And then we were back to the Duck for lunch.  I was struggling at this point – four months of Weight Watching has reduced my capacity for gluttony considerably but I (wo)manned up and got stuck in to an absolutely gorgeous smoked haddock and Lancashire soufflé which was feathery enough to allow me to pretend that it was a light option, but, in reality, cheesy enough to be a fitting final hurrah of indulgence.  D opted for cod with Indian spices which looked and smelled excellent.  We turned down pudding regretfully – I had the scales to think about and D had to drive back to Leeds with no time for an afternoon snooze. 
I guess it is a real measure of how much we liked it that we started talking about our next visit before we had even left the car park.  We plan to maybe stay a bit longer, research some proper country walks (mainly to build up decent appetites) and continue our on going although sporadic quest to discover if the centre of Ambleside has a decent pub.  The Drunken Duck is an absolute dream of a little bolthole and definitely succeeded in brightening January’s last few dark days.

And, anyway, I want to spend some more quality time with Dotty.
The Drunken Duck Inn
LA22 0NG

1 comment:

  1. Mm looks lush. I will have to try there next time we go to the lakes. We normally stay at the Three Shires Inn in Little Langdale, it has good pub food and lovely walks nearby (the best of which goes via The Eltermere Inn for a Gin Cream tea!). I'm not sure if we found a good pub in Ambleside we normally go to the cinema and get the movie deal and eat at Fellinis . Let me know if you find a good pub!