[A] recent addition to the Ullswater Valley food scene is celebrating an astonishing first year of business. 1863 Bar Bistro Rooms in Pooley Bridge opened its doors to guests in May 2016 with a flourish of Victorian-inspired chic and a keen young Head Chef eager to make waves on the Cumbrian food scene.
For over 150 years, 1863 has quite literally been a cornerstone of the village. The property is set in the heart of Pooley Bridge, a short walk from the shores of Ullswater. It was built first as the village blacksmith’s and later became the post office. Now reimagined for the 21st century, 1863 features a bar, bistro and seven elegant bedrooms. A family business, they say they enjoy getting the little things just right, welcoming guests back time and again to share in a slice of Lakeland paradise.
Twelve months on and ‘the proof’ as they say ‘is in the pudding.’ Over 10,000 locals and visitors from as far away as Hong Kong and New Zealand have enjoyed dinner in the Bistro while over 3500 have used 1863 Bar Bistro Rooms as a base for a short break to discover the beautiful Ullswater and Eden Valleys and of course the wider Lake District.
Meanwhile, over in the the Kitchen, the team is almost unrecognisable. One year ago, Head Chef, Phil Corrie was holding the fort on his own. Today, thanks to a lot of hard work and skill, Phil (25) is joined by four other chefs with a combined mean age of 19.6 years! Between them they’ve worked with 21 local, regional and national suppliers to create 104 different dishes plus 46 flavours of ice cream and sorbet. That equates to over seven menus in 1863’s first year, or put another way, one new dish served every three days!
Head Chef Phil said: “To have the chance to be involved in a new business venture right from the off is on most Head Chefs’ bucket lists. I’ve enjoyed every moment of the last year and am so proud of all we’ve achieved together. I’ve particularly enjoyed the opportunity to create innovative, seasonal menus using produce that really is as local as it could be – Jean’s fantastic kitchen garden veg, Henry’s pungent mint and my mum’s raspberries!”
When asked what year two holds, Phil’s not resting on his laurels. The young chef and graduate of Kendal College is focussed on building and expanding 1863 Bistro’s reputation both with customers and critics while pushing and developing his young team on the technical front.
Previously known as Elm House Bed and Breakfast, 1863’s owners, Mark and Anne Vause, moved to the area from Blackburn in 2008 and spent eight years running the award-winning B&B. In November 2015, the entrepreneurial couple had already made the ambitious decision to close to undertake a £300,000 refurbishment project and relaunch in early Summer 2016 as 1863 Bar Bistro Rooms. Despite the dreadful storms of Winter 2015/16 and ensuing challenges, the establishment opened on time and on budget in late May.
Mark said: “Quite honestly – it’s been astonishing. You always hope that people are going to like what you’ve created but we’ve just been so taken aback at the support and appetite (!) our customers have for 1863. But perhaps beyond the welcome, the food and the rooms, I think maybe they appreciate that we’re a close knit team, we work hard and are constantly looking to the future and ways to make their visits to us unexpected and even more enjoyable.”
With a brand new summer menu out now, a newly expanded wine list due out in early July, two new luxury suites available from late July plus a series of popular Tasting Evenings throughout the year, there’s no sign that the 1863 pace is going to abate anytime soon.
1863 is open year round; the bar opens at 2pm with a ‘Bite to Eat’ menu, the bistro opens at 6pm daily. Booking is strongly advised for the Bistro. To book a table call 017684 86334.
For further information and the latest menu visit www.1863ullwater.co.uk.