A super charming brekkie, brunch and lunch spot in the serene village of Windermere – arguably one of the Lakes’ most picturesque, chilled-out spots. We stopped by on a Sunday morning to find it packed to the rafters with couples, students, groups of chums and families, old and young, all settled in with mugs of tea, fluffy slabs of homemade cake and towering, ridiculously good-looking plates of bacon and avocado, waffles and pancakes, golden like the sun, and more – the kind you drool over on the likes of Instagram. You know you’re in for a treat when people (including kids) are willing to queue – some for over half an hour on foot – to get their hands on a knife and fork, and that’s exactly what we witnessed on our visit. The place, which lies about a mile and a quarter away from Lake Windermere (this makes for a great post-brekkie walk by the way), has a glowing reputation on and offline – just ask the locals – and we considered ourselves rather lucky to have nabbed a table straight away. Get in early (and quick) if you’re calling in at the weekend. The food is more than worth setting an alarm for – even on a Sunday. Trust us.
Gorgeous grey walls, made pretty with shards of local slate, chunky wooden tables, oak flooring, Scandi-style hanging lights and bar-like seating by the window, where you can perch your bottom and people-watch while enjoying your morning caffeine fix. There’s plenty going on, but the atmosphere is far from frantic; staff are smiley, chatty and efficient and there’s a gentle buzz coming from the kitchen – which you can have a peek at from the till. Go there to order and lust over all the freshly-baked goods on offer. On this occasion, wedges of brownie, giant American-style chocolate chip cookies, flapjack, perfectly-iced carrot cake and more. Most were gluten-free and/or vegan – always good to see.
This is a venue known and loved for its beans, meaning coffee fans are pretty much guaranteed a steaming mug of goodness on every visit. Go with what you fancy. Some of our buddies sipped on frothy, perfectly creamy, lattes, while others knocked back nutty shots of espresso to wake them up. As for us, we tried a few of the herbal teas on offer, from lemongrass and ginger, to refreshing peppermint.
Sometimes, too much choice is a bad thing. Especially on a lazy Saturday afternoon or sleepy Sunday morning. Often, on days like these, you just want fed quick – and well. Fortunately, Homeground’s menu is modest in size, yet still manages to pack a punch when it comes to imagination and variety. Current brekkie options (from £3.50-£6) stretch from creamy, brûléed oats with seeds, dates and chestnuts for chew and fresh local yogurt with zingy rhubarb compote and crushed pistachios, to homemade muesli and thick slices of ‘superseed’ loaf. Again, homemade, served with lashings of lemon and vanilla marmalade. Simple, but sophisticated and inventive in flavour – how anyone can resist not ordering them all in one go is beyond us. The rest of the menu serves up a mix of brunchy staples, from good old bacon sarnies and sturdy slices of sourdough, topped with avo and poached eggs, to eggs ‘Benny’ and ‘Royale’ with homemade hash browns – the perfect hangover cures. American-style waffles, the kitchen’s own spin on Shakshuka and savoury pancakes, one big-time burger (their version of a USA favourite – lamb ‘Sloppy Joe’) and comforting bowls of soup-of-the-day sit alongside. Where to begin, we hear you ask? From the beginning, until you can’t stomach any more! Oh, and if it interests you, the kitchen only uses free-range eggs and milk, and all bread comes from Lovingly Artisan bakers in nearby Kendal.
What we ate
Two of us treated ourselves to some sweet-and-savoury action in the form of pancakes and waffles, which we shared, mouths and eyes wide open with glee. The roast squash and stilton pancakes (£9) were a knockout and surpassed our expectations – by far one of the best plates (or skillets in this case) we’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. Believe us when we say we’d happily walk back to the Lakes just for another bite. A generous stack of drop-scone like pancakes, perfectly fluffy with just the right amount of stodginess, made with creamy, smelly Stilton, sit on a bed of tender squash, slow-roasted for optimum sweetness. Topped with an oozy fried egg and a generous scattering of crispy kale, fresh chilli and spring onion, it’s the stuff of brunchtime dreams – a dish that was originally introduced as a one-off Pancake Day special this year, but after winning the hearts of so many customers, has ended up a permanent fixture. What a great decision that was. Special mention goes to the glass of homemade HP Brown Sauce which is served alongside; a sweet and sticky chutney-like sauce, almost jammy in texture, that just lifts the whole dish. So good, we ended up eating the last of it with a spoon. The waffles will set you back £8 – an absolute steal considering how big they are (kudos to Homegrown for serving up such hearty portions – it’s what all customers what for their buck). The near-giant treats were, like the pancakes, lighter-than-air, but still thick and cake-like enough to mop up the good drizzle of (slightly smoky) maple syrup you get. They’re topped with curls of crispy streaky bacon, caramelised banana and whipped, marshmallow-like mascarpone. Just divine. Others on our table tucked in to the wild mushroom baked eggs (£8.50) – another skillet stand-out that sees eggs gently bubbling away in a rich wild mushroom sauce, with a a hazelnut and caper crumb – and the ‘Homeground Sarnie’ (£9). A speciality that many of our fellow diners seemed to fall in love with, too. Basically a mix of smoked back and streaky bacon, avocado, hash browns, tangy caramelised onions and a fried egg, all smushed in between hot slices of sourdough. A brekkie sandwich that needs to be seen to be believed. Our verdict? This place deserves every bit of praise it receives – and more. A no-brainer for anyone visiting over the upcoming spring and summer months. Bring your appetite and let it run wild – your tastebuds won’t be left disappointed.