Nestled beneath the Howgill Fells in picturesque Sedbergh, The Dalesman Country Inn is a destination loved by locals and visitors alike. This warm and welcoming coaching inn has been a central part of village life since the 16th century.
It continues to win hearts to this day, not only within the local community but with a foodie following; those keen to sample the creative seasonal menu which champions ‘hero’ local ingredients from small-scale farmers and producers.
Owner, Mike Garnett grew up in the town before moving abroad to pursue a successful hospitality career. On return home, he was drawn back to characterful Sedbergh and the pub that his parents ran. Aged just 23 and full of youthful enthusiasm, Mike took over the running of The Dalesman.
“It was always my aim to have a menu that was inspired by outstanding quality local produce,” says Mike.
“I wanted to be able to work directly with the producers and whilst this wasn’t the easiest route, we’re now benefitting from those established relationships.”
He adds “The abundance of produce available on our doorstep year-round allows us to create well-loved, traditional dishes featuring beautiful, fresh, seasonal produce that is imaginatively presented using innovative culinary techniques.”
The somewhat unusual level of care and consideration that is put into the sourcing and production of food is largely driven by the business’s ambition to reduce their environmental impact and support the local economy.
Mike comments, “It’s important to me our whole team have that knowledge and enthusiasm about what we sell and that they can tell those stories to our customers.”
Staff are invited to visit suppliers and producers, whether that be a walk out onto the fells to see the Galloway cattle or a trip to the family-owned craft beer importers, Cave Direct – where Mike recently took his team to do blind tastings.
The kitchen team is ably led by Head Chef, Dave xxx, who shares Mike’s passion for working with local suppliers. He says, “My grandad inspired my love of food. I always had a curiosity for where food came from and working here, we’re truly spoilt!”
He adds, “Ninety percent of our meat comes from within a five-mile radius. Our beef, lamb and pork is reared at Birks Farm just up the road. We’re able to sit down with Brian the farmer and plan our requirements ahead of time, which will influence our menu selections.”
“As part of our sustainable approach and our commitment to reducing waste, we take the whole beast and do a lot of our own butchery on-site. Rather than buying mass quantities of certain cuts of meat, we’re breaking down the carcase and using each part in different elements of dishes.”
“My favourite dish this season is prime cut of Galloway Beef, smoked brisket bonbon and salt baked swede which we serve with charred leeks and a red wine jus. It’s just delicious!”
“We’re always coming up with new ideas”, adds Dave. “I’m really into ice cream and have always made my own. We’ve recently invested in a state-of-the-art machine so that we can start making our own Italian gelato this summer!”
The current lunch and dinner menu’s at The Dalesman feature dishes such as ‘Sedbergh Galloway beef baked suet pie’ and ‘Duo of Sedbergh Rough Fell lamb’. The desserts take inspiration from a little further afield with the mouth-watering selection including ‘Baked Far Breton’ – a French classic with prunes, sultanas, Armagnac and vanilla roasted plums. The cheeseboard features local Inglewhite Buffalo along with award-winning Burt’s Blue and Welsh Gorwydd Caerphilly – a nod to the Welsh roots of Head Chef, Dave.
Accompanying the food is an interesting wine and beer list, designed to encourage people to try something a little more unusual. Mike’s preference is for beers that are brewed in Germany and Belgium which have a cleaner taste and punchier flavour. They also stock a large number of cask ales from small local breweries.
Gin enthusiasts can sample The Dalesman’s very own ‘Sedbergh Gin’, flavoured with their home-grown rosemary and lavender and distilled in small batches in Garstang.
For those wanting to try an authentic taste of the Dales with a side order of sustainability, The Dalesman is hard to beat.