Tebay Service Station
Junction 38 Services, Old Tebay, Penrith, CA10 3SSThis is a first. Until recently the thought of reporting on one of the universally-reviled catering outlets on our motorways would have caused mirthful enquiries after the state of my cranial health amongst my colleagues, and my worthy proprietor might have raised more than an eyebrow. But, yes, there have been welcome signs of improvement of late, and nowhere has this been more apparent than at Tebay, southern gateway to the Lake District, where a local family diversified from farming big-time when the M6 ploughed through their land. Described by no other than TV chef Clarissa Dickson Wright as the "finest in England, with its wonderful shop full of Cumbrian delights", this refuge from the convenience motoring of a major highway has it all, except a licence, and that's a matter of wise legislation.
This is a first. Until recently the thought of reporting on one of the universally-reviled catering outlets on our motorways would have caused mirthful enquiries after the state of my cranial health amongst my colleagues, and my worthy proprietor might have raised more than an eyebrow.
But, yes, there have been welcome signs of improvement of late, and nowhere has this been more apparent than at Tebay, southern gateway to the Lake District, where a local family diversified from farming big-time when the M6 ploughed through their land. Described by no other than TV chef Clarissa Dickson Wright as the "finest in England, with its wonderful shop full of Cumbrian delights", this refuge from the convenience motoring of a major highway has it all, except a licence, and that's a matter of wise legislation.
Fiercely locally inclined, the staff are nearly all from nearby, the dishes on offer have more than a flavour of the wonderful food in those parts, and the ever expanding deli counter and farm shop has been talked about in the same breath as the food hall at Harrods, which may be further tempting providence given the inclination to resort to law in that area, but let's hope he'd be flattered.
Gourmet eating it is not, quality food provided in pleasant surroundings looking out over a pond and the Cumbrian fells, it most certainly is. Who can ask for more? Even the children and the dog will be happy with ducks to feed and plenty of space for what is diplomatically referred to as 'walkies'. Tebay shines like a beacon of hope for the future of motorway noshing and well deserves the massive support it receives.
: 00:00 - 24:00
Reservations: 015396 24505
Junction 38 Services, Old Tebay, Penrith, CA10 3SS [Map]
(Avg Price is the average cost per person for two courses, coffee, half a bottle of house wine and tip/service)
REVIEWS OF Tebay Service Station
Nathan (27 January 2009)
As a regular visitor of Tebay Services, I was surprised to read the previous review. I visit Tebay Services regularly on my travels around the country and I have to say I am always impressed by the quality of the food on offer. They do a fantastic cooked breakfast and delicious homemade pies. I would always recommend Tebay Services to anyone driving through the M6 in Cumbria - good food in really pleasant surroundings and they have the best farm Shop.
John King (10 June 2007)
We stopped at Tebay Services for lunch on Sunday 10th June, after reading some positive reviews and seeing it named as Britain's Best Service Station on tv. We arrived just on noon, as staff were putting the lunch selection on display. Our meals were as follows: Cumberland Sausage, veg and gravy; One 8 item All Day Breakfast; one regular pot of coffee and one mug of cappuccino.
The Cumberland sausage was just that, one sausage! It came with a choice of mashed or roast potato (but not both!) and garden peas, mashed carrot and cabbage, and a splash of gravy. Come on guys! Vegetables are not expensive! Neither is gravy! This was a tight portion! The girl serving left the centre of the plate empty. Was something missed off?! A better value portion needed here for the thick end of £5.
The 8 Item Breakfast. Nothing was drained before being added to the plate, leaving the food basking in a sea of tomato juice and vegetable oil. At least the toast was served on a separate plate and so stayed dry. The Hash Browns oozed veg oil when put under a little pressure, very off-putting.
The Pot of Coffee was good. A nice strong pot of filter coffee, no complaints on that one, except we had to sort through nearly a whole tray of cups to find one not still full of flotsam from the dishwasher. The cups clearly were not well rinsed.
The 'mug' of cappuccino. Yes, the poster clearly stated 'MUG'. I was served a half empty mug of cappuccino and given the excuse from the counter staff that she 'usually uses a cup but there are none left, the measure in the mug is a standard measure but looks less in the bigger mug.' Hang on, either this is a half empty MUG of coffee, or its a cup of coffee, in a mug. I was paying £1.90 for the advertised MUG of coffee. In the end I felt that the biggest mug was the one paying for it... ME!
The service. We waited patiently for the lunch menu to be put on display. Only fair, after all we did arrived just before midday and if lunch is only served from midday, then a short wait was to be expected. Meals were served quickly and we moved to the drinks counter-cum-checkout. With only one member of staff doing both jobs, we had to stand around and wait to be served drinks (see above) and pay for our meals. So the food is already starting to go cold. After much adoing we finally paid then went to get our cutlery to find that there were no knives. Another wait, food getting colder. A few minutes after asking for more knives, they arrive and finally we can sit down to enjoy our Sunday lunch. Well, once we had cleared ourselves a table. Mountains of pots stacked on tables and on the window ledges near to the clean up area. Every table needed clearing! We found a not-too-bad table, shifted the previous occupants' dirty crockery and finally sat down to 'enjoy' our meal at the nations Best Motorway Services.
We don't go into these places expecting a la carte food and silver service. Average food served in a nice environment would have been acceptable, or even just a warm welcome in a greasy spoon with quantity making up for quality. Tebay Westmoreland achieved neither, which is a shame because it used to be proud of its family-run status. It used to be a bit grubby but the good food, reasonable prices and warm welcome more than made up for it. The revamped building in no way justifies the loss of all the other good points. Tebay, unfortunately, has become just another corporate service station, without the corporation.
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More Info for Tebay Service Station
- Children welcome
- Air condition
- Groups allowed
- Outside seating
- Cover charge
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