Once the butt of jokes worldwide, Britain’s restaurant scene is now globally celebrated. From fabulous fresh fish and meat to delicious local fruits and vegetables, enterprising chefs around the country have inspired a food revolution in the 21st century.
Want to see more of the changes happening in the UK’s restaurant industry? Why not eat your way through the country to sample some of the best dishes in award-winning eateries.
Eating out in England and Wales
The largest concentration of great restaurants in England and Wales is, unsurprisingly, in London. High-end favourites like Hibiscus and Wild Honey mingle alongside small local cafes and gastro pubs, all competing to win over the discerning taste buds of hungry Londoners.
However, more and more chefs are opening up restaurants away from the capital. Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck in Berkshire and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Canteen in Axminster were early leaders. But in 2013, L’Enclume in the Lake District showed how good restaurants outside London can be when it bagged the number one spot in the Waitrose Good Food Guide. Run by chef Simon Rogan, L’Enclume’s emphasis on fresh Cumbrian produce – and his own nearby farm – has impressed critics and ordinary diners alike.
Elsewhere, Kingham’s in Shere is also making waves, serving first-rate food in a blissful Surrey Hills setting. The Hand and Flowers in Buckinghamshire is that rare thing: a gastro pub with two Michelin stars. The waiting list for a table here is months-long and its chef Tom Kerridge has even hosted his own BBC series. Hix Fish and Oyster House in Dorset is heaven if you’re a fan of shellfish. And in Wales, Monmouthshire’s The Crown and Whitebrook has turned the country’s restaurant scene upside down, with brilliant dishes that use top local ingredients.
The best restaurants in Scotland and Northern Ireland
Despite the colder climate, there’s plenty of great produce to be had in Scotland too – and its restaurants are making the most of it. Longstanding Edinburgh leaders like Michelin-starred The Kitchin and Restaurant Martin Wishart are essential stop-offs in any foodie’s trip to the Scottish capital. In Glasgow, Two Fat Ladies is a local institution with five branches across the city and Mother India Cafe can certainly lay claim to being Scotland’s best Indian restaurant.
But there are plenty of great restaurants outside the Central Belt too. Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at the Gleneagles Hotel is an exquisite Michelin-starred eatery, a stone’s throw from one of the world’s most celebrated golf courses. And if you’re in the Hebrides, don’t miss Three Chimneys in Skye, which has been serving great food on this stunning island for nearly 30 years.
Across the Irish Sea in Northern Ireland, food fans in Belfast flock to Deanes, the award-winning restaurant from restaurateur Michael Deane, while James Street South Restaurant offers first-rate French-inspired dishes with Northern Irish style. And over in Derry – City of Culture for 2013 – Fitzroy’s is a local favourite, and Quaywest is a great place to enjoy a glass of wine and top bar food.
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