A RESTAURANT near Carlisle that opened only two years ago has made it into the pages of a top guide to fine dining.

Lounge on the Green, in the village of Houghton, is one of the eateries being named for the first time in the Good Food Guide, published today.

The restaurant is run by 36-year-old chef James Hill, who grew up in Houghton. James worked with Angela Hartnett and Gordon Ramsay at their restaurant in The Connaught in Mayfair, London, before moving back to his home county.

He used to own Bijou restaurant in Carlisle and still runs The Quarter Lounge in Treasury Court, next to the Market Hall in the city centre.

Lounge on the Green opened in July 2017 in the premises of the former furniture shop in Houghton, and received very positive reviews from critic Grace Dent.

James explains: “On the back of that we decided to up our game. We opened for Saturday and Sunday lunches and added a few more services.

“We didn’t realise we would be in the guide – but then they got in touch and asked us to submit our details.”

James sees Lounge on the Green as offering fine dining in a relaxed setting whereas The Quarter Lounge is a more informal and less exclusive alternative.

He says: “In Houghton we do a nine-course taster menu, from canapes to desserts, reflecting what’s seasonal.

“The food is mainly British and European but involves a lot of technical ability.”

James’s restaurant is one of 16 from Cumbria that are listed in the 2020 Good Food Guide. Others in the north of the county include 1863 restaurant in Pooley Bridge, Allum at Askham Hall, the George & Dragon in Clifton and The Cottage in the Wood in Braithwaite.

And the restaurant named top in the country is also in Cumbria – Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume in Cartmel.

The guide’s editor Elizabeth Carter said of it: “There was very strong competition among the top-scoring restaurants this year, but there was no ignoring the fact that L’Enclume is a really extraordinary restaurant, once again topping the bill as our premier restaurant after a two-year sojourn in second place.

“It is forged from Cumbria. But for all its rural rootedness, from the hands of its talented chefs proceed 15 dishes that are breathtakingly skilful, memorably delicious.”

L’Enclume has come top in previous guides and Simon says: “I couldn’t be happier with the news that L’Enclume has returned to the number one spot.

“It is a huge achievement which we have worked exceedingly hard towards, and I am very proud of my team who have made it possible. Making the number one spot again has only fuelled our collective determination to get better and better.”

Other Cumbrian restaurants reaching the top 50 were Lake Road Kitchen in Ambleside, at number 26, and Forest Side near Grasmere at number 27.

This year’s guide also lists the best 350 restaurants offering three-course meals for £30 or less.

It is published by Waitrose & Partners and costs £17.99.