Review: The Angel Inn - Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria

Food: 7
Service: 8
Atmosphere: 7
Location: 6

Bowness-on-Windermere has to be one of the worst places to exist in the Lake District. You can't move for Far-Eastern tourists who have no idea how to walk in a straight line; stopping for no apparent reason to take a photo of every single building (I even saw a lady taking a photograph of a Chinese takeaway - maybe to compare notes, who knows?).

It bewilders me how so many tourists travel to Bowness given that it is a turd among gemstones in the Lake District, a place that can justifiably herald itself as one of the most stunning places in the Universe. There is no character, no charm, the scenery is mediocre and there's nothing to do except fight your way through foreign sightseers as they meander about like a lazy shoal of bluefin tuna.

The town has to cater for these happy snapping droves and so a plethora of choice is available, largely Italian restaurants or takeaway establishments that are nothing to write home about. We happened to choose to eat at The Angel Inn simply because it was closest to where we were staying, a three-minute walk down the hill - a nightmare on my crippled knee, but that's a story for another time. Another rather more crucial reason for our choice was that it had a menu that appealed to all the family, from those with a palette bereft of refinement to those with fussier eating habits. The meat brigade were kept happy whilst I could find similar herbivorous pleasures from what I was reading from the menu stand.

We ventured inside the relatively characterful building to the restaurant area and were quickly seated by a tall, blonde waitress - picture Kate Moss but in a hurry. The restaurant itself was remarkably quiet, given that it was 7pm during the first week of the Summer school holidays. The few diners that were seated had been evenly distributed about the room, generating only little atmospheric pockets, rather than clumping guests together to create a buzz - although as an antisocial diner (and an antisocial person in general) it was fine.

Kate Moss handed us our menus and skipped back to the bar area to sort our drinks order. We scoured the menu for the dishes we had already preselected when stood outside earlier, just to check that a whole new menu hadn't been devised and printed in the four-minute interim between standing outside the restaurant and sitting down inside.

I opted for the Asparagus Filled Ravioli, available as a vegetarian option without the bacon pieces. Going off a slight tangent, the idea of giving diners options and choice is incredible and one which restaurants don't do enough. Whilst most restaurants might be open to the idea of not following a strict menu, it often feels uncomfortable to ask. I saw a great example of this just around the corner from The Angel Inn at a place called Baha - there was a clear vegan section which simply said: "Please pick any ingredients from the menu and we will make it into any dish of your choice." Extremely simple and well worth printing on any menu I would say.

Back to Kate and my ravioli. Pillowy pasta pockets of deliciousness, if a tad too salty, slathered in butter and cream. My only criticism of the asparagus ravioli dish as a whole would be the asparagus - there was simply too much of the same thing, both flavour and texture. There needed to be a contrast, a sweetness, a fresh kick, a crunch, a slight spice...something...anything. The 5 garden peas didn't do the trick sadly. It just needed a touch of mint or caramelised crispy onions on top, even a couple of shavings of Cheddar would do it. But I'm no chef. (Fried breadcrumbs would also work a charm!)

It was a nice enough plate of food in a nice enough restaurant in a nice enough location. It was, in a nutshell, nice enough.

If I ever find myself back in the wart of the Lake District that is Bowness I shall be sure to visit Baha and asked them to make the most complex vegan dish I can create from items on their menu. After I've been kicked out from there I will walk around the corner to enjoy a good plate of food The Angel Inn served by Kate Moss.

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