Written by Sarah Ledger

Food

Eat Here, Love: The Filling Station

Continuing our mission to trumpet the loveliness of places where we love to scoff when we’re out of the house, Sarah Ledger recommends her new favourite place to eat in Keswick.

Running on empty? You've come to the right place.

Running on empty? You’ve come to the right place.

Name: Sarah Ledger

I recommend you Eat Here: The Filling Station, love.

Address: Crosthwaite Road, Keswick CA12 5PR

Is it a restaurant, cafe, bistro, takeaway, drive thru, chippy, roadside van or motorway services? It’s an old petrol station converted into a cafe.

What kind of food do they serve? Road movie food: pancakes, brunches, burgers, subs, salads and coffee. But unlike an American diner, the food is sourced locally – including smoked bacon and smoked chilli sausage from Brougham Hall (I shall return to the bacon and sausage later on).

Paint us a picture: From the outside it looks like what it used to be: a petrol station and garage. Back in the day there’d have been a chap to serve your petrol, polish your spark plugs and offer advice on the odds of you making it to Scotch Corner before nightfall.

In keeping with its previous use there’s a motorbike theme. Pictures of 50 motorcyclists grace the walls, along with quotes – about speed and fear and death – from Hunter S Thompson and Guy Martin.

There’s a rather splendid gleaming motorbike on display and Audrey Hepburn looks wistful on the billboard outside. Inside, lime green booths comfortably accommodate the broadest of backsides and there’s a menu illustrated with another glamorous bike.

Then – as if that were not enough – behind the cafe is Skiddaw on one side and Blencathra on the other. You just have to sit outside at the picnic tables to see the most beautiful view in the world.

What’s the scoffing soundtrack you’ll hear, here? The heavier end of classic rock – Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, Black Sabbath.

Motorbike and memorabiliaWho might you expect to see here? The Filling Station is just outside Keswick so it’s a combination of bikers, families and groups of friends. Once you get into Keswick, the clientele tends towards the outdoorsy, with any amount of walking boots, treble knit sweaters, lumpy socks and loud discussions about Striding Edge. Not so much in FSC. You’re more likely to bump into Jack Kerouac than Chris Bonnington.

How are you being served? Food is cooked to order so it’s fresh and hot but not instant. The chef – who looks as if he could very well be Greg Davies’ brother – discusses the food enthusiastically with evident and justifiable pride.

What are your top three dishes on the menu? I’m relatively new to The Filling Station, so I’m steadily eating my way through the menu. It’s a filthy job, but someone has to do it.

bacon and maple pancakesThe pancakes with Brougham Hall smoked bacon and real maple syrup are wonderful. It’s difficult to describe good pancakes without resorting to ‘light’ and ‘fluffy’ but, really, that’s what they are. They’re served with crisp, aromatic bacon, fried to that delicious point just short of brittle, and a generous portion of smoky maple syrup.

Similarly, with the burgers, it’s the details – homemade onion chutney and properly matured cheddar – that elevates them from a quick lunch into the realm of something special. And the chai latte is a sweet spiced foam, much gentler than a cafe latte.

When and how did you first find this place? @FSCKeswick is a prominent Cumbrian voice on Twitter. They are staunch supporters of local trade and tireless fundraisers for the Cumbrian Flood Appeal. I started following for the local news and then realised there might be something delicious involved.

Why do you love it so? Because it’s cool. There are lots of pretty places to eat in Cumbria but nowhere that pulls off motorcycle chic and delicious pork products with quite such panache.

What’s the best meal you’ve had here? I think I’ve yet to have the best meal there. On our way out, the chef let us sample some of his new spicy sausage. I KNOW! How’s THAT for service?

It’s a well textured piece of pork, smoked to perfection with a chilli kick. There’s a new smoked sausage salad on the menu and I’ll be ordering that on my next visit. And then on the next visit, I’ll be sorely tempted by the Smoked Eggs Royale.

Mates, a soulmate or solo? It’s a great place to go with a group of friends. And I think it’s perfectly acceptable to say you’re going to tackle Blencathra, but you need somewhere to sit until the rain eases off and then when it doesn’t, settle in for the day.

Budget or bank balance busting? The prices are reasonable. One dish and a drink comes to roughly a tenner a head. A day’s loitering might cost a little more, but it’ll be worth it.

@sezl

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Written by Sarah Ledger

Champion soup maker; of a surprisingly nervous disposition. @sezl & sezl.wordpress.com

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