THE husband and wife team behind an award-winning Dales pub are celebrating after receiving two prestigious AA awards.

Inspectors were impressed by the friendly hospitality and excellent food at the Black Bull, on Sedbergh's Main Street.

The refurbished 17th century coaching inn and dining room owned by head chef Nina Matsunaga and her husband James Ratcliffe has been bestowed with AA Four Gold Star Inn status as well as its first AA Rosette for culinary excellence.

“We’re absolutely delighted," said James, who grew up in the Lune Valley village of Ireby.

"These accolades are a marvellous celebration of what we do and what our team delivers day in day out.’’

James added: "It’s been a wonderful year for us, and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank our customers, suppliers and the whole team at the Black Bull, as everyone is a part of our success.”

In a glowing report, the AA's hotel services’ hotel and restaurant inspector stated: “Service and hospitality were key strengths here with a professional yet engaging approach from the everyone.

"All team members were friendly and made every effort to make guests feel welcome. Physically the property is impressive having undergone a full refurbishment in recent years. Food output was excellent, and dishes sampled meet the requirements for one AA Rosette to be awarded as a reflection of the cookery and quality produce used.’’

Dishes on the Black Bull's evening menu conjured up by head chef Nina, who was born in Germany to Japanese parents, include the likes of:

l Cornish sardines, pea and garden herb salsa with sourdough

l Isle of Wight tomato, borage, kimchi and cured egg yolk

l Howgill Herdwick lamb, chicken of the woods and carrot

l Mansergh Hall pork loin, braised belly, kale & fermented daikon radish

l Hereford Beef Sirloin, Chestnut, Cote Hill Blue & Pear

l sheep’s mousse, white chocolate and raspberry

l and sea buckthorn, goats’ milk, tapioca and black sesame.

Before reviving the Black Bull, James and Nina established the Three Hares cafe, bakery and bistro just across the road, achieving a coveted listing in the Good Food Guide.