Eating out with kids in the Lakes: Ambleside and Bowness restaurants
Whenever we are on holiday we always tend to eat out rather than eating in the hotels. Our recent ` wasn’t going to let N eat in the usual Pizza Express or high street branches of restaurants because most of the small towns or villages don’t have have these kind of outlets. The Low Wood Bay hotel that we stayed in had two restaurants but neither’s menu was our ideal, plus being hotels were pricy. We decided to head into both Ambleside and Bowness-on-Windermere to eat out in the evenings. Here’s some of the Ambleside and Bowness restaurants we visited and our thoughts.
Ambleside Tavern, Ambleside
Our first evening we headed into Ambleside, as it was slightly closer and easily reached by bus. We were a bit early for tea so played miniature golf while we waited then wandered to find somewhere to eat.
After looking in a few places we came across Ambleside Tavern and decided this would be fine for eating.
Ambleside Tavern is a traditional pub with an area out the back with further tables for eating. We chose to sit in the front of the pub. It was popular with both drinkers and people eating, and serves food all afternoon to evening. When you’ve got children that’s needed, because you don’t want to be waiting until 6:30 or 7 for places to open for dinner.
The menu is traditional pub grub and there’s a separate children’s menu with the usual kids with chips meals. I chose Cumberland sausage with mash, peas and onion gravy, while N decided on the kids sausage, chips and beans.
The food didn’t take long to arrive. Both were decent sized portions although I don’t like a lot of gravy and mine was swimming in it. The chips looked really good and mine was really tasty. The food is a great price. Kids meals were only £1 when bought with an adult main meal. £15 for two meals and drinks was a bargain.
The Ambleside Tavern is quite small and cosy in the bar area for seating and it’s quite dark with lots of dark wood panelling. But it has a nice welcoming atmosphere, you can watch people walk past outside and you can even play board games as they have a selection.
Trattoria pizzeria, Bowness-on- Windermere
N loves pizza so I had to say yes to that for dinner one evening. The second night we headed to Bowness-on-Windermere which is a bit more touristy than Windermere itself. There are plenty of places to eat in Bowness and in the evening it’s easy to park although the streets are busy with people.
We decided on the Trattoria pizzeria which is a short walk up Lake Road. It’s a very small restaurant although you can sit outside to eat. By 6 it had got very busy with mostly families.. I didn’t find the man who took us to a table very friendly. He didn’t give us a children’s menu so we had to ask for one when I realised the table next to us had them. However they had activities on, but we weren’t given anything to write or draw with. Neither had the kids next to our table, although they were brought some later after asking for them.
There was a lot of choice on the main menu. I decided to just go for pizza, and was lucky that my favourite, Hawaiian, was on the list. N had pepperoni and salami on his. I also chose a mocktail which was really tasty.
I really liked the restaurant’s atmosphere, and depending on where you were sitting you could see the chefs at work. You were given a little dish of foccaccia, oil and olives from the chefs with your menu, and the foccaccia was delicious. But neither of us like olives. I’d rather we were just asked beforehand if we’d like it, as they must have so much waste.
My pizza was really tasty and generous with the toppings. N wasn’t so keen on his pizza. It was a lot spicier than he’s had before, so he didn’t eat all of his. We’d usually take the rest for him to eat back at our room, but he didn’t want to take it back with him.
We decided not to have dessert there – a fairly limited choice and I’m not big on tiramisu or sticky toffee pudding. Instead we paid and went to a nearby supermarket to buy some chocolate if we wanted a sweet treat later.
I think the service could have been better – there were lots of waiters around, but it was hard to get their attention and only a couple of girls we asked to help seemed interested in us and getting us what we needed in a timely manner. The men seemed distracted with other bookings and phone calls which they were taking at the empty table in the window next to us. The food was good and not badly priced, so if I was in a group of friends where the service would be less noticeable I’d go back and try it out again.
Bodego tapas bar, Bowness-on-Windermere
For our 3rd evening we decided to head further down into Bowness-on-Windermere to look for somewhere different to eat. N hasn’t really experienced thai food so I didn’t want to risk that for him, but we noticed the Bodego tapas bar and decided we’d try there. N hasn’t had much tapas before but he likes the sharing side of it, so was keen to try it out. So into another bar for food!
We hadn’t realised there’s more of a restaurant upstairs, so just sat downstairs at a table in the bar, but that was fine. It was early enough not to be full of drinkers. The barman advised that he would usually order 2 tapas for himself, so we decided we’d go with that. There was a little language confusion ordering lime and soda, and orange juice and lemonade, but we got our drinks right in the end. They do a cocktail menu too but I was driving so couldn’t try one.
We did have a bit of a wait for food (luckily I’d not had to attempt the pronounciation of the dishes, and the barman just wanted the numbers on the menu for the order). N is never the most patient, but it is nice to sit and chat. We have much more grown up conversations now he’s older, but mostly I end up having to answer whatever random question he throws at me.
We chose a cheese and bacon pasta (N’s choice), patatas alioli, albondigas (meatballs) and flamenquines (mozzarella wrapped in ham and fried). All the dishes were delicious, and we got through all but half a meatball. The only thing I would have changed was having a slightly spicy tomato sauce for the meatballs. The albondigas we’ve had before have had a spicy sauce, but this was just plain tomato and herbs. Nice, but I was expecting a little more.
I do think tapas is great for children. They can try different dishes and if they’re fussy, there’s always something more ‘british’ or recognisable to try. Bodega was a nice place for children who want to think they’re growing up and old enough to be in a grown up restaurant, rather than a regular restaurant.
Where do you recommend for food in the Lake District? Do you have any favourites of the Windermere or Bowness restaurants?
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