A CUMBRIAN chef is aiming to put Carlisle on the food and drink map by creating a must-visit dining destination for visitors from across the UK.
Chris Archer, who is Head Chef at the three AA-Rosette Pentonbridge Inn, wants the city to be ranked alongside the Lake District for the quality of its fine dining restaurants.
Cumbria has become renowned for its food and drink in recent years and now has the highest number of Michelin starred restaurants outside of London, with eight restaurants scooping 10 Michelin stars between them in the 2022 edition of the Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland.
Pentonbridge Inn, which sits in countryside close to the Scottish border at Penton, near Carlisle, was named Newcomer of the Year in the Good Hotel Guide’s 2019 César Awards and picked up an Editor’s Choice Award for pub-with-rooms in 2022. It retained its listing in the Michelin Guide in 2022, having first been included in 2021.
The restaurant recently launched an eight-course tasting menu featuring ingredients from the restored walled garden of its sister business, Netherby Hall, a historic stately home four-and-a-half miles away at Longtown, near Carlisle.
Chris said: “We’d love to put Carlisle on the foodie map by making Pentonbridge Inn a must-visit destination for food lovers. It would be a brilliant boost for the area and create another great reason for people to come to this part of the world.
“We have worked extremely hard at Pentonbridge Inn over the past couple of years to build a great team, which works together to ensure that all of our guests have the best possible dining experience.
“We’re creating something really special here and I think anyone who visits us understands and relates to that.”
Chris, who has been at Pentonbridge Inn for three years, works closely with the garden team at Netherby Hall to source up to 70 per cent of the fruit, herbs and vegetables used in the seasonally-inspired dishes on the set tasting menu.
He also works with local suppliers across Cumbria including Bells Fishmongers in Carlisle and Winter Tarn Dairy, based at Morland, near Appleby, and sources pork from nearby Askerton Castle and Cumbrian beef and lamb from Steven Airey at Ayside, near Cartmel, in south Cumbria.
He said: “Some of the best produce in the UK is on our doorstep in Cumbria and we’re proud to be showcasing these quality ingredients in our dishes, while also highlighting the strong connection between the gardens at Netherby Hall and Pentonbridge Inn.”
Chris describes himself as a traditional chef with a flair for presentation who loves combining the old school styles of cooking with new flavours and techniques.
His modern British style of cooking has been honed through working at Michelin-starred and AA Rosette restaurants across the UK including Winteringham Fields, Midsummer House and The Cottage in the Wood, near Keswick, where took on his first head chef role in 2014.
The Walled Garden at Netherby Hall has been restored to its former glory in recent years including the building of replica Victorian glasshouses, the restoration of its fruit and vegetable plots, and the replanting of its beds to supply flowers to Pentonbridge Inn and the hall.
The Grade II* listed mansion is set in 36 acres of gardens and grounds on a private estate and is home to nine luxury self-catering holiday apartments and cottages, as well as conference facilities.
Pentonbridge Inn is open Wednesday to Saturday. The restaurant-with-rooms has nine stylish and cosy bedrooms, all named after the Border Reiver clans for which the Borderland region around the pub was known.