A week in the Lake District and some much needed rest and relaxation. We explored the beautiful countryside, and especially the cafés and restaurants near to our Airbnb apartment in Kendal. We pigged out on some great brunches and dinners, and had tapas twice – with wildly different results.
Firstly a word of advice: if you’re eating out in this part of the world, check the opening times. We found that most restaurants in Kendal only had evening opening towards the end of the week and a proudly trumpeted ‘late opening’ usually meant last food orders at 8pm and closing at 10. Not a problem once you know, but a bit of a shock to most Londoners.
A Tale of Two Tapas
On our first evening, a Tuesday, we hadn’t figured out the quirky opening times and so our choice was fairly limited. We wanted something local and so ended up at Pedro’s, a very small tapas chain in the Lake District. My heart sank at the sight of the sombreros on the seats at our table in the empty restaurant. And yes, this did not bode well for the rest of the evening. I won’t dwell too much on the experience, mostly because it makes me too sad, but the lowlights included brown anchovies served as tapas – these have their place and it’s on pizza (maybe). The nadir of the evening was a shared chocolate fondue – if you don’t have a fondue set, it’s probably best not to serve a sharing dish that relies on being kept warm. The chocolate was white (why?) and served with slices of orange with the peel still on – I’m not quite sure what the vision was here … perhaps they were inspired by an Under 11 team, combining Milky Bars and half-time refreshments?
By Thursday we had gone native and knew most of the places in town (it’s a small town). If you ever find yourself with time to spare in Kendal, do be sure to explore the lanes and alleys as this was where we found some of the most interesting little bars and bistros. Comida, was an exception and we had passed it several times on the main road, growing more curious each time.
The two experiences could not have been more different and, as you might have guessed, Comida came out of this rather better. Set in a large airy space with a kitchen on view Comida (Spanish for ‘food’) feels new and fresh. Set up by a husband and wife team with Spanish heritage, the menu is a delight and we did our best to sample most of it! We started with olives, bread and a deliciously simple tomato dish, and drank Er Boqueron, a Spanish beer brewed with sea water.
I love sharing food, it’s a chance to try more things and we dove into a selection of dishes including Boquerones – white anchovies (the proper, melt in your mouth type this time); simply griddled and salted Padrón peppers; crispy Patatas Bravas with aioli and hot paprika oil; Espencat, tender braised aubergines and peppers; and a daily special of cauliflower with cheese and minced pork. All delicious and clearly quite enough for two people. Which didn’t stop us from going on to order Albondigas, pork and beef meatballs, and mini griddled chorizos steeped in red wine. Or to top it all off with a shared Crema Catalana – a type of shallow creme brulee with a delicately creamy custard and brittle sugar topping.
On pricing, tapas can often work out on the high side when you’ve added all the dishes together. I’m delighted to report that even though we did our best to eat the whole menu our meal at Comida, with two beers each, worked out at less than £70 for two. So a bargain to boot!
We had a chat about our visit when we got home – join us and listen in.
The menu at Comida is broad without being overwhelming and there’s an ever changing board of daily specials. If in doubt, ask the staff who are knowledgeable and friendly. They’ve clearly tried all the dishes and know what to recommend. We had a fabulous meal and had to walk home the long way to try and ease our piggily full tums. Recommendation enough!
Loo Review (PMC Rating): ★★★★☆ Simple and clean, but with a flourish of foliage and some lovely Moorish design touches that made it a little different.
Comida, 90 Highgate, Kendal LA9 4HE Thursday, May 3rd 2018