Full steam ahead this week for a meal at the Engine Inn, Cark, a 17th century coaching inn at the centre of its community.

My husband and I had been at a do along the road, and called in at the tail end of the evening service in search of sustenance.

I’ve always liked The Engine and, under its current owner, it’s become well regarded for its home cooked food and grill menu. We were both in the mood for some classic pub grub that particular evening and, armed with a glass of wine for me and a pint of the pub’s cheeky Piston Ale for Gordon, we were pleased to find that The Engine’s menu is packed with such dishes.

As time was marching on - and the kitchen staff were getting ready to wind down after a busy evening - we went straight to the mains, with Gordon choosing beer-battered haddock and chips (£13) and me splashing out an extra 50p for a homemade ‘proper’ steak and Timothy Taylor’s ale pie.

We were sitting in one of the charming rooms at the front of the pub, while locals were gathered at the bar ruminating on life, in the inimitable way that pub locals do.

When our food arrived we were heartily relieved we hadn’t had starters. The portions at The Engine are certainly generous.

Gordon’s haddock was so large you could barely see any chips on the plate (they were there, though - and plenty of them). We’re talking whale territory here. Although definitely not whale in terms of taste. This was a superb piece of fish, snow white and flaky, with a lovely crisp and golden batter. There were mushy peas, of course, to go with. It was well worth the price tag, £13 being pretty much the going rate in most pubs in this area for this standard of food.

My steak and ale pie was also on the Desperate Dan side of portion size. I don’t know who Timothy Taylor is or was but he makes an ale that’s perfect for pies. The gravy was delicious, and matched in quality by the copious chunks of tender steak. This was real trencherman fare which, with a good dollop of English mustard, went down a treat.

My only quibble was with the chips. There’s chunky chips - and then there’s The Engine’s chips, which although delicious, were too chunky for me. More like roast potatoes than chips, I found them just that bit too big and ended up wastefully leaving too many of them.

We all have our preferences when it comes to the precious British chip - mine is for them to be about half the size of the chips served at The Engine, but then maybe that’s just me being a wimp.

For pudding we shared a classic sticky toffee pudding with custard for £5.50, which we felt was the perfect pud with which to round off this most traditional of pub meals.

It was moist and delicious, swimming in a bowl of thick custard, and I dread to think how many calories we had consumed between us during this heartiest of hearty meals.

The Engine is running on full steam with its food. Classic pub fare in charming surroundings in a village which too often gets overlooked in favour of its more popular neighbour,Cartmel.

It’s well worth pulling into the sidings for a stop at the Engine.

Food 4

Service 4

Value 4

Atmosphere 4


Classic menu

Charming rooms

Good beers


Huge chips