The best of fusion food at Sedbergh’s award-winning The Black Bull

9 mins read
Black Bull,Sedbergh
Black Bull, Sedbergh - Phil Rigby Photography

A stylishly refurbished traditional 18th-century coaching inn sat on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, The Black Bull Inn is a true foodie destination, with stylish rooms to match.

What unites both the stylish interiors and the menu? Uniqueness and care. There is never any corner-cutting at The Black Bull; no cut-and-paste interiors, no menu stagnancy. Owners Nina Matsunaga and James Ratcliffe refine and finesse their offering constantly, so far with unerring success. 

Stylish Cumbrian pub with rooms

In 2018, after 18 months of serious renovations, James and Nina opened The Black Bull and its 18 rooms. Mirroring the menu, James and Nina have ensured that each room is both unique, and inspired by its surroundings. 

Black Bull Sedbergh bathroom
One of the bedrooms in The Black Bull Sedbergh – Phil Rigby Photography

Rooms are accented with special touches; pottery from local ceramicist Rebecca Callis, warm and stylish rugs from local weaver Laura’s Loom, bespoke toiletries from The Sedbergh Soap company, and artwork by Rob Whitrow all go hand-in-hand with the unique interior design in each room to ensure the feeling is homely, one-off, and welcoming. This is no faceless, characterless hotel – everything has been thought-through, and feels full of love.

Check out the range of suites, luxury rooms, superiors, classics, and even dog-friendly options here.

Sat on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, The Black Bull inn pairs its stunning Howgills setting with comfortable yet cutting-edge style, and most importantly, a mouthwatering and always interesting menu. 

Cumbrian high-end dining from Japanese, German, and Cumbrian inspiration

Chef-owner Nina Matsunaga combines the best locally-sourced produce with inspiration from her Japanese and German heritage, to create an award-winning menu at this Cumbrian fine dining pub gem.

Born in Dusseldorf to Japanese parents, Nina brings all of her history, very naturally, to the table in the food she cooks. Seasonal (and locally-informed) ingredients are brought into unique dishes that tend to showcase Japanese culinary inspiration, without the pairing ever seeming heavy-handed or forced. 

Nina met her Cumbrian husband James Ratcliffe, co-owner and sommelier, when she visited Manchester after she had finished her culinary training and was working in a bakery in Dusseldorf. Nina settled in the UK and the pair embarked upon a culinary partnership, which has grown from Manchester pup-up to tiny cafe to award-winning restaurant and inn together.

Black Bull Sedbergh - Phil Rigby Photography
Black Bull Sedbergh – Phil Rigby Photography

James now masterminds The Black Bull’s drinks list, which never fails to proffer exciting and unusual options to perfectly pair with the food (or enjoy without). From more traditional varietals to unusual grapes from unusual countries which have undergone unusual processes, he focusses on taste rather than trends, and tries to opt for the most sustainable options too. Try the easy-drinking Slovakian Orange, for example, or opt for one of their range of well-sourced sakes for something less run-of-the-mill. James is always willing to suggest a great wine pairing for your meal, without heading too far south on the wine list as old-school wine waiters once had the habit of doing. From the cheapest to the most pricey options, all of their wines have a place on the menu – and there’s no snobbery around that.

Fine Dining Pub in Cumbria

The informal dining environment at The Black Bull Sedbergh combines a traditional pub welcome with the finest food offering. 

Fig Leaf, White Chocolate and Passion Fruit - Rob Whitrow Photography
Fig Leaf, White Chocolate and Passion Fruit – Rob Whitrow Photography

Herein lies The Black Bull’s true skill – to keep every guest satisfied. Whether you want a pint of bitter and a beef and horseradish sandwich in front of the fire, or a glass of biodynamic red to go with an indulgent and inspired three-course meal, you will leave satisfied – if not delighted.

Enjoy outdoor dining, bar snacks, or the full A la Carte menu

Choose your Black Bull dining location to fit your mood, and your appetite. Head left when you enter the pub and you’ll find yourself in the cosy bar area. Come in from a bracing walk and sit by a roaring log burner to enjoy a menu of bar snacks – think Drover’s Platters, Shorthorn Beef & Horseradish sandwiches, and the unmissable Crispy Korean Beef, Shiso & Sesame. 

In finer weather, head outside around the back of the inn to The Stables & Meadow, where a rustic and relaxed menu of freshly-fired sourdough pizzas and BBQ foods are available (think Pig Cheek & Kale Pesto pizza, Pulled Herdwick Lamb & Seasoned Yoghurt Flatbread, or Smoked Paprika and Parmesan Corn on the Cob). 

Howgill Hereford beef, Laphet (fermented tea), beef tendon
Howgill Hereford beef, Laphet (fermented tea), beef tendon – Rob Whitrow Photography

But to really experience the full range of the cooking The Black Bull is so celebrated for, head right when you enter the pub, into the dining room proper. That’s where you’ll find clean, stylish interiors, inspired floral installations, and most importantly, Nina’s creativity, let loose.

The Black Bull Menu

Lauded by critics such as The Guardian’s Jay Rayner, Tony Naylor, and the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropub inspectors (the pub came in at number 35 in the UK in their 2023 list), The Black Bull’s menu is internationally inspired, in the best possible way. 

Mansergh Hall Pork With Lotus Root & XO Sauce – Rob Whitrow Photography

Starters like ‘Crispy Mansergh Hall Pork & Spiced Korean Mayo’ showcase that fusion of local provenance and Asian inspiration, whilst ‘Howgill Goat Tortellini, Miso & King Oyster Mushroom’ showcase the eccentric but always cohesive directions that the menu can run! 

Chocolate Cremeux, Hazelnut Creme, Pat, Caramale, Hazelnut, Pear and Pear Puree – Rob Whitrow Photography

The desserts list is always unusual and appealing, too – often bringing traditionally savoury ingredients into play in exciting ways. Nina comes up with combinations such as ‘Dark Chocolate, Aquafaba, Jerusalem artichoke, Coconut & Pink Peppercorn’ alongside the pub classics like ‘Sticky Toffee Pudding & Ice Cream’, so there’s something for everyone.

New Ventures on the horizon for The Black Bull

Never ones to rest on their laurels, Nina and James will soon have converted a cottage into two additional suites, taking their room count to 20. They are also working on The Stables, to turn the space into a more flexible area, providing a little more protection from the elements, as well as offering space for pop-ups and private dining.

Shaped by Nina’s inspiration, the local produce available, and the seasons, The Black Bull’s menus change frequently.


Breakfast is currently served Mon – Sun 9-11 am (for non-residents)

A La Carte Lunch is served Weds – Sun 12-3 pm

A La Carte Dinner is served Weds – Sat 6-9 pm, Sun 6-8 pm


Bar Menu is served

Mon & Tues 12-7 pm

Weds – Sun 12-3 pm

Stables & Meadow

Food is served Weds – Sun 12.30-7 pm (peak season, check social media as can be weather dependent)

Address: The Black Bull Sedbergh, Cumbria, LA10 5BL