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L'enclume restaurant in Cumbria
L'enclume restaurant in Cumbria
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 Good Food Guide 2017 Reveals Britain’s Best Restaurants

Picture of Andrew Webb
Food & Drink Editor
Updated: 9 February 2017
The 2017 edition of the Good Food Guide is out on the 5th September, and this year there are some unusual additions amongst the traditional fine dining restaurants. But who claimed the number one spot? Read on to find out.

For over 50 years the Good Food Guide’s team of volunteers have been anonymously reviewing restaurants around the country. This year is no exception and as the lastest edition comes to a bookshop or app store near you, we find out what’s inside.

There’s something about Cumbria

Chef Simon Rogan’s restaurant L’Enclume, in the historic village of Cartmel in Cumbria, has been crowned “number one restaurant” for the fourth year running, also securing five years of scoring the perfect ten. The Guide awarded the restaurant top billing due to the “soaring sophistication of Mr Rogan’s cooking”, highlighting the 17-course tasting menu which offers “clever elements of technical wizardry to keep the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ going,” with “the cooking forever breaking new ground”. Many ingredients are local and grown on L’Enclume’s own 12-acre farm. The restaurant was famously visited by Steve Coogan and Rob Brydan in the first episode of The Trip, who were perhaps a little less than complimentary of Rogan’s brilliant cooking. It takes a chef comfortable in his own skin to send his work up in such a way.

Simon Rogan of L'enclume
Simon Rogan of L’enclume

A handful of other Lake District restaurants also secured a place in the top 50, most notably Forest Side Hotel in Cumbria, which was a new entry for 2017. Here born and bred Cumbrian Chef Kevin Tickle serves up a real taste of the region. Second place, also with a perfect ten score, was Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, a chef who’s career, and empire, has grown considerably since I first met in eight years ago. What hasn’t changed, is his love of Cornish fish and seafood.  Editor Elizabeth Carter praises his seafood restaurant as “a role model of its kind – no pretensions or gimmicks, just first-class food and knowledgeable, welcoming service – and there is no doubt in my mind that Restaurant Nathan Outlaw deserves its place as one of the best restaurants in the country.”

Unusual venues

Staff at Gloucester Services
Staff at Gloucester Services

The GFG tries to cover not only fine dining, but also some of the more unusual and often new venues in the UK.  The 2017 edition features three restaurants housed in shipping containers: Cook House in Newcastle; Craftworks Street Kitchen in Truro, Cornwall; and Kricket in Brixton, London. There’s also the addition of a motorway service station, which are not known for bring temples of gastronomy. Gloucester Services on the M5 is an “independently run motorway pit-stop” with a gourmet café that is “committed to locally sourced food”. It is part of the Westmoreland family of businesses, which also include the stunning Tebay services in, that’s right, Cumbria.


Also new to the GFG this year is a reader discovery, Shuck’s at the Yurt, a restaurant housed in a quirky tent in Norfolk. The yurt eatery is located in a beautiful orchard and run by husband and wife team Phillip (Head Chef) and Beth Milner. Beth says “we are absolutely delighted and overwhelmed to be featured in the Good Food Guide through recommendation from our customers. As a new business it means so much to be recognised for our great food. We hope to go from strength to strength and have exciting new plans for 2017 from our unique setting in the beautiful Drove Orchards.”

Phillip Milner and his yurt
Phillip Milner and his yurt

And in Bristol, there’s a brilliant brunch menu as well as tasty tapas at Spoke and Stringer, a seriously cool café which is part bike part surf shop. Kristian Crews, owner of Spoke and Stringer, said: “It’s exciting to be a part of The Good Food Guide as we are still a start-up business and it gives us an opportunity to share our amazing food, venue and identity with a wider audience. We have a very active, lifestyle-orientated menu which lots of people stop by for to enjoy after the gym, with our evening menu also popular with cyclists.”

A Golden Age

When Raymond Postgate established the guide in 1951, it was because he was appalled at the quality of much of the food served in restaurants in post-war Britain. Since then, things have improved greatly. Editor Elizabeth Carter says ”I’ve certainly seen changes in the UK restaurant scene in my ten years as consultant editor – what a golden era for restaurants it has been. London will always have an extraordinary wealth of top restaurants and chefs but I love the fact that the restaurant scene is flourishing beyond the capital; more affordable start-up costs outside of London have made our great regional cities viable dining destinations.

“At the same time, dining out everywhere has become less structured, less formal, with more flexible opening times and menus, and with a much broader choice of quality venues in the lower price bracket. It means we’ve all had to come to terms with exposed ductwork, hard seats, small plates and communal tables – but well worth it when you consider the all-day eateries, cafés, pizzerias, seafood shacks and pubs of genuine high quality offering everyday eating at everyday prices.”

The Top 50 Restaurants In Full

The Good Food Guide’s annual Top 50 restaurant ranking is highly regarded by chefs and restaurant-goers alike, with particular attention paid to those chefs and restaurants who make it into the Top 10. The Top 50 recognises the very best talent in the country; a place on the list represents a huge achievement, with each position earned by its score in The Good Food Guide, editor appraisal and strength of reader feedback.

A top score of (10) means “Just perfect dishes, showing faultless technique at every service; extremely rare, and the highest accolade the Guide can give.” Straight into the Top 50 at no.37 is Forest Side, Cumbria and also new in the Top 50 are Castle Terrace, The Greenhouse, Simpsons, Orwells, Restaurant Marianne and The Whitebrook.

1 L’Enclume, Cumbria (10)
2 Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Cornwall (10)
3 Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottinghamshire (9)
4 Pollen Street Social, London (9)
5 Hibiscus, London (9)
6 The Fat Duck, Berkshire (9)
7 Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London (9)
8 Hedone, London (8)
9 Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, Tayside (8)
10 Fraiche, Merseyside (8)
11 The Ledbury, London (8)
12 Midsummer House, Cambridgeshire (8)
13 Le Champignon Sauvage, Gloucestershire (8)
14 Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, London (8)
15 Fera at Claridges, London (8)
16 Le Gavroche, London (8)
17 Marcus, London (8)
18 The French, Manchester (8)
19 André Garrett at Cliveden, Berkshire (8)
20 The Peat Inn, Fife (8)
21 Whatley Manor, The Dining Room, Wiltshire (8)
22 Castle Terrace, Edinburgh (7) New to the top 50 this year
23 The Kitchin, Edinburgh (7)
24 Bohemia, Jersey (7)
25 The Greenhouse, London (7) New to the top 50 this year
26 The Waterside Inn, Berkshire (7)
27 Casamia, Bristol (7)
28 Paul Ainsworth at No. 6, Cornwall (7)
29 Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London (7)
30 Artichoke, Buckinghamshire (7)
31 Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Oxfordshire (7)
32 Restaurant Story, London (7)
33 Gidleigh Park, Devon (7)
34 Restaurant James Sommerin, Glamorgan (7)
35 Simpsons, Birmingham (7) New to the top 50 this year
36 Sketch, London (7)
37 Forest Side, Cumbria (7) New to the top 50 this year
38 Murano, London (7)
39 Restaurant Martin Wishart, Edinburgh (7)
40 Ynyshir, Powys (7)
41 Adam’s, Birmingham (7)
42 The Raby Hunt, Durham (7)
43 Freemasons at Wiswell, Lancashire (7)
44 Orwells, Oxfordshire (7) New to the top 50 this year
45 Restaurant Marianne, London (7) New to the top 50 this year
46 Hambleton Hall, Rutland (7)
47 The Whitebrook, Gwent (7) New to the top 50 this year
48 Llangoed Hall, Powys (7)
49 Lake Road Kitchen, Cumbria (6)
50 The Dairy, London (6)

The Good Food Guide will be available to buy at Waitrose from 5th September priced at £12.99 (rrp £17.99). The guide can also be preordered now at