Bookings boost for Cumbrian restaurant following Grace Dent review

A north Cumbrian fine dining restaurant has seen a big increase in bookings after receiving a glowing review from food writer and presenter Grace Dent.

Pentonbridge Inn, near Carlisle, has been inundated with requests from diners following the publication of the restaurant review in The Guardian last month.

In her review, Ms Dent said the restaurant’s eight-course tasting menu was ‘the sort of food that makes me giddy’ and questioned why Pentonbridge Inn did not have any Michelin stars, saying it was worth at least two.

She described Head Chef Chris Archer’s menu as having ‘extraordinary confidence’ and said ‘cooking at this level is something Britain should be proud of’.

She said Chris, who has been at Pentonbridge Inn for more than three years, had hit his ‘true stride’, and praised the team’s ‘warm, knowledgeable service without any airs or graces’.

Gerald Smith, who owns and operates Pentonbridge Inn, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the restaurant review, and we’re proud of the whole team who work so hard and put so much pride and attention to detail into the food and service at Pentonbridge.

“In the weeks since the publication of the review in The Guardian, we have seen a seven-fold increase in bookings for the restaurant compared to the same period last year and experienced a spike in followers on our social media accounts. It’s been a fantastic way to start 2023.”

Pentonbridge Inn, which sits in countryside close to the Scottish Border at Penton, holds three-AA Rosettes. It 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. The restaurant retained its listing in the Michelin Guide in 2022, having first been included in 2021.

The restaurant-with-rooms’ set tasting menu features ingredients sourced from the restored walled garden of its sister business, Netherby Hall, a historic stately home four-and-a-half miles away at Longtown.

Chris works closely with the garden team at Netherby Hall to source the fruit, herbs and vegetables for the seasonally-inspired dishes, as well as working with local suppliers from across Cumbria.

He honed his modern British style of cooking 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 he took on his first head chef role in 2014.

Carlisle-born Ms Dent is an acclaimed food writer, author and broadcaster. As well as being the Guardian’s food critic, she is a regular judge on MasterChef.

Pentonbridge Inn is open Wednesday to Saturday. The eight-course tasting menu costs £95. A five-course set lunch menu is also available, served on Friday and Saturday. Visit for more information.

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