The Dalesman Country Inn located in the picturesque town of Sedbergh is a pub run with a passion for provenance. Originally a 16th century coaching inn, the venue has more recently earned a reputation for their remarkable approach to food production and sourcing.
Offering a true ‘taste of the Dales’, diners can enjoy a creative seasonal menu which champions ‘hero’ local ingredients, sustainably sourced 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 our 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.
One of their longest standing supplier relationships originated in the 1980’s when Mike’s parents took over The Dalesman and they began sourcing fresh fruit and vegetables from Powell’s greengrocer’s in Sedbergh. With a lifetime spent working in the food and vegetable trade, Martin Powell’s knowledge and passion for seasonal produce is second to none. He often stops by the pub with something new for the team to try and helps them to source local produce at its seasonal best.
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 of craft beer.
The kitchen team, ably led by Head Chef, Simon Taylor all share Mike’s passion for working with local suppliers. Mike explained, “I’ve noticed that once our chefs have met the farmers and suppliers and found out more about their production processes and how that affects the meat and produce, it really captures their interest”.
He adds, “Ninety percent of our meat is reared within a five-mile radius. Our beef, lamb and pork come from 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.”
Similarly, the poultry on the menu at The Dalesman is produced just seven miles away by local farmer, David Knipe who rears free-range chickens, turkeys and ducks. With huge grassy paddocks to roam, the birds are slowly grown on a specialist natural diet giving a fantastic flavour and texture to the meat.
David says, “We’re proud of what we do here, and our customers appreciate the lengths we go to. It’s brilliant when other businesses in our community are as passionate about local food and produce as we are; we support each other and it’s great for the local economy.”
Knipe’s Farm Sedbergh Chicken Breast features on the current dinner menu, served with a butterbean and nduja cassoulet, as well as on the Sunday Lunch menu alongside the Birks Farm Galloway Beef and Sedbergh Rough Fell Lamb.
Accompanying the food is a range of locally brewed cask ales and for gin enthusiasts, The Dalesman’s very own ‘Sedbergh Gin’, flavoured with their home-grown rosemary and lavender and distilled in small batches in Garstang.
The ethos to support local businesses even stretches to the choice of hand soap and hand creams which are made by the Sedbergh Soap Company.
For those wanting to try an authentic taste of the Dales with a side order of sustainability, The Dalesman is hard to beat.