Im working with the Cumberland Building Society on their #grinupnorth campaign. When approached, I was super excited about getting involved in a campaign that celebrated what the ‘north’ has to offer. I’m not named dadupnorth by coincidence. I live in Carlisle, was born in Carlisle and have a ‘proper’ Cumbrian accent. Cumbria really is a great place to live…We put gravy on chips, don’t care if it rains and produced 1/3 of 90’s pop band 911 (Google them…some absolute pop classics). There are 2 parts to this campaign. Part one, which is this post is all about one of my favourite places to visit in Cumbria. Part two which I will do another post on, will discuss my visit to one of their local advisor’s to talk about financial planning.
So……one of my favourite places in Cumbria, is Dutch Uncle. A restaurant which sits in the heart of Carlisle’s beautiful historic quarter. This is away from an area of town which is saturated with pubs and Italian restaurants. Historically Carlisle hasn’t exactly been the mecca for fine cuisine and it certainly hasn’t embraced national food trends. Go back 5/6 years and the city centre had an abundance of average Italian restaurants, which were all pretty identical. There was also a lot of pubs, where you could get a burger and a pint for £6 or some scampi if you were lucky. It wasn’t all bad, outside the city centre there was and still are some brilliant gastro pubs, restaurants and hotels, serving unbelievable food. Nevertheless for me….the city centre was lacking. Lacking choice, lacking something new and lacking any originality.
In 2014, The Dutch uncle was born…Created by Sam Norman, a local lad and already the owner of the hugely successful Shabby Scholar, which is located in the same Carlyle Court. 2 years earlier the Shabby scholar brought a modernised version of tapas to Carlisle. Dutch Uncle introduced artisan food, made with fresh, local ingredients. Sam and his chefs change the menu every month and his bar staff create some unbelievable cocktails. It’s the type of place you go and genuinely feel looked after, not pestered to drink more, order more and check every chip tastes ok, but looked after. He has a remarkable eye for style and Dutch Uncles décor is fitting to the style of food it serves. Its rustic, fashionable and quirky. There is an open kitchen, which for me is always a brave design choice. The chefs have no where to hide and cant just open a packet of turkey twizzlers, stick them on a plate with a bit of parsley and charge £12. This is proper food, cooked well, served well and constantly evolving. Restaurants often fall into the trap of not making changes and sticking with what they know. The Dutch Uncle takes pride in not doing this. Month by month you get something different, the food and drink moves with the seasons and the trends.
One of the reasons I wanted to feature the Dutch Uncle and Sam, is to highlight what he as an individual has done for the city. As I’ve mentioned, pre Shabby Scholar and pre Dutch Uncle, Carlisle was behind the times. Sam is not only passionate about food, but he is passionate about Carlisle as a city. He developed the Never Stop Moving initiative which offers employability training for young people in the local area. He is constantly open to change and evolution, he epitomises that the north has a lot to offer and as a city we can compete with the big boys.
The food industry in Carlisle is a better place, since Sam pushed against the constraints of normality. He gave the north and Carlisle something to grin about #grinupnorth
If you don’t live up north or even the UK, you might not have heard of the Cumberland Building Society, quick summary: Established in 1850, The Cumberland has 34 branches located across Cumbria and North Lancashire offering mortgages, savings, current accounts and home insurance. It was named ‘Best Regional Building Society’ for a third year at the 2017 Mortgage Finance Gazette. They have a clear passion for all things local and pride themselves on offering excellent customer service; online, over the phone or in one of their branches.
This post has been completed in collobaration with the Cumberland Building Society
All photos used are credited to Sam Norman and used with his permission.