Though the city’s UNESCO status might be up for debate, Edinburgh’s foodie credentials most certainly are not. The Scottish capital is a hotpot of cross-cultural cuisine and attracts countless foodie fans to its cobbled streets every year. Despite many Michelin stars, the cities hotspot for fine-dining has to be the Radford Family’s new venture, Timberyard. In the past couple of years it has expanded its clientele, and now you’d be hard pushed to get a table as a walk in. Focusing on local produce, much of their dishes feature foraged ingredients, and don’t be surprised that the drinks list looks like something you’d read at your local garden centre.
Following on from a foraged feast, you will definitely want to pop over to neo-bistro Aizle. This is the word on everyone’s lips, with their four (five, really) course set menu of ingredients bringing a new approach to dining. You can match your meal to a complimenting flight of drinks, whizzed together in front of you by Krystal Goff, mixologist extraordinaire. Expect inspiring combinations served to you in sparkling candleglow. Talking of inky interiors, the last pick for Auld Reekie has to be Field. This eatery serves up Michelin standard food at phenomenal prices, with impeccable service to match. They truly provide an holistic approach to dining that makes the customer enjoy every experience from start to finish.
Field, 41 West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, Scotland, 0131 667 7010
The ancient university of Oxford and the splendour of Bleinheim Palace bring intellectualism and grandeur to this small part of the Cotswolds, but hobbited away beneath such splendour is the cutesy town of Woodstock. Connected with Bleinheim, the small village has traditionally been a working town but now boasts a slew of trendy eateries that attract locals and tourists from far flung reaches to the historic town. In a 17th Century Townhouse Hotel, you will find the indulgent tasting menus of The Feathers.
‘Eating and drinking is at the heart of The Feathers experience’, their website proudly reads, so expect an experience above and beyond the ordinary. The Crown Inn has undergone recent renovations and the space now boasts and open, airy, yet comfortable dining room along with a woodfired oven. All manner of delicious treats await, ranging from standard pub grub to the indulgent. Finally, if you are looking for something a little exotic, try The Galleria, an intimate space in which to marvel in a feast of Italian delights.
The Galleria, 2 Market Place, Woodstock, UK, 01993 813381
No list of the top foodie destinations in the UK would be complete without this little gem in the Lake District. Famed, of course, for Simon Rogan’s much applauded L’Enclume, the UK’s ‘best restaurant’ according to the 2014 Good Food Guide. Rogan’s innovative dining experience is sure to challenge the tastebuds, but above all offers a sublime experience to mirror its environs.
If this is a bit out of your price range, try the same chef’s ‘fine little boozer’ The Pig and Whistle, located just down the road. Though not so gravity-defying, the food also ranks highly amongst the people that know their stuff. Expect foraged starters and game-y mains to warm your cockles after a long days’ hiking. After so much decadence, tone it down a notch at The Tea Rooms at the Cartmel Village Shop. Famed for their award winning sticky toffee pudding, these tea rooms will tide you over in style with all manner of nice nibbles.
The Tea Rooms, The Square, Cartmel, Cumbria, UK, 015395 36280
While not technically part of the UK, we couldn’t leave it this amazing culinary city. A major benefit of Dublin’s rise out of the recession ashes has been novel and innovative restaurants and bars springing up all over the city, making the top three a very difficult choice. If you’re looking for something a bit different, head to bar-cum-restaurant Opium. Their Asian inspired menu boasts such classics as Tom Yum Soup and Gyoza, with the overall experience taking its leave from the infamous London Restaurant Hakasaan. The atmosphere of loud music and flickering led light means it’s definitely more of an evening joint, but don’t make the mistake of going on a full stomach. You will want to eat everything.
If you’re looking for something a little more Irish, don’t miss the Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant The Pig’s Ear. Head Chef and Owner Stephen McAllister has created a veritable smorgasbord of Irish delights, using his vast culinary knowledge to ensure an exciting and palate pleasing menu. Lastly, but definitely not least, all meat lovers must visit the Bison Bar& BBQ.
The Pig’s Ear, 4 Nassau Street, Dublin, Co. Dublin City, Ireland, +353 1 670 3865
Bison Bar and BBQ, 11 Wellington Quay, Dublin, Ireland, +353 86 056 3144
Opium, 26 Wexford Street, Dublin 2, Ireland, +353 1 526 7711
If you’re coming to the UK on holiday, odds say you will be coming in or out of London. The capital city is hectic – it’s a bubbling, boiling, oozing multicultural cosmopolis, and it’s got the food to match. As with Dublin, choosing a top three is a tricky task, so this is the top three most popular restaurants of the moment. First up is the Chiltern Firehouse. ‘London’s most talked about restaurant’, says Vogue, lauding the 1890 firehouse’s fresh take on modern bistro cuisine. It’s a little tricky to get a seat, so book well in advance.
If sitting amongst high-fliers wasn’t dizzying enough for you, get to Duck & Waffle, located on the 40th floor of one of London’s swankiest inner city buildings. Open 24/7 and serving an array of fine and fancy food, both the scenery and the grub are sure to dazzle and delight. For something a little more underground, Flesh & Buns, is the latest offering from the Bone Daddies group. As if their name wasn’t seductive enough, try not to ogle over the awesome Asian inspired dishes at F&B. Their take on the traditional Japanese Izakaya joints brings boozing and eating together – Asian tapas if you will – that’s sure to get the taste buds tweaking and toes tapping.
Flesh & Buns, 41 Earlham Street, London WC2H 9LX, UK, 020 7632 9500
We all like to be beside the seaside, and that’s especially since it has undergone a foodie makeover. Brighton is now attracting more and more British and international tourists to its sunny seaside shores for groundbreaking gourmet haunts, such as the rapidly growing 64 Degrees, which has just opened up another branch in London town. Chef owner Michael Bremner opened his Brighton restaurant in 2013 and since then has received enormous acclaim for his technically exact and imaginative dishes. The menu reflects seasonality, and under the four headings of ‘fish’, ‘meat’, ‘vegetables’, and ‘dessert’ an assortment of carefully collated dishes await for your choosing.
For some more home-grown grub think of The Coal Shed, which has also received great acclaim. The farm to fork mentality of this restaurant makes for a meal that satisfies the soul as well as the palate. Speaking of acclaim, we can’t forget The Chilli Pickle. This is no ordinary Indian restaurant. Expect to see thalis and biriyanis on the menu at excellent prices, but also anticipate something special and superb.
The Chilli Pickle, 17 Jubilee Street, Brighton, UK, 01273 900383
64 Degrees, 53 Meeting House Lane, Brighton, UK, 01273 770115
Eating choices are almost unlimited in this cosy cathedral city in North Yorkshire. In full view of the breath-taking spires and quaint gardens, dine in Michelin listed The Old Deanery, where you can expect sumptuous British dishes and exotic takes on classic favourites. Sweep a loved one of their feet in sparkling surroundings, as the dim light glints off the bare, ancient floorboards.
If you fancy something French, take to La Grillade, which is proudly the oldest Frankish restaurant in Yorkshire. Expect rustic dishes and traditional combinations, together with the warmth of service you expect from this most friendly of counties. Finally Lockwoods, offers something a little more laidback, but with the same high quality of food and service. A menu of meat, fish and pasta ensures that there is something for everyone in this stylish bistro.
Lockwoods, 83 North St, Ripon, North Yorkshire, UK, 01765 607555
The ancient market town of Ludlow in Shropshire, the ‘loveliest town in England’ according to Sir John Betjeman, is perhaps most famous for the Battle of Ludford Bridge during the Wars of the Roses. As you pass by Tudor townhouses, you might feel yourself a bit of a Lancastrian, so take a moment to step into The Unicorn and transport yourself back. Serving up good grub beneath boughs of hops, it’s a kindly place where everyone is warmly welcomed and special consideration goes into all kinds of dietary desires on the menu.
For dinner fit for a king, head to Mr. Underhills, recipient of a prized Michelin star. The off the beaten track restaurant-with-rooms is famed for their playful take on honest, local ingredients. Sit back and relax in this tranquil spot, then finish the evening with a romantic stroll beneath the stars. Ludlowians are equally as proud of their Michelin star as they are of award winning thai restaurant Chang Thai, at which you can sample traditional delights and fusion foods. Why not try thai tapas on a Shropshire summers day?
The Unicorn, 66 Corve Street, Ludlow, UK, 01584 873555
Mr Underhills, Dinham Weird, Ludlow, Shropshire, UK, 01584 874431
Chang Thai, 3 Market Street, Ludlow, Shropshire, UK, 01584 874212
Last year, Channel 4 raised the profile of this city’s culinary scene with the programme Restaurant Wars: The Battle for Manchester. Indeed, it has always been something of a mystery as to why this cosmopolitan city has held no Michelin stars for over 40 years. However, the ‘capital of the North’ is a gem in the rough, with restaurants like Manchester House, star of the aforementioned programme, breaking and making culinary trends. Celebrity chef Aiden Byrne was a bit of a selling point for this venue, but his menus are positively magical. Indeed, there’s no smoke without fire, and this kitchen is positively sizzling.
Mr Cooper’s House and Garden, is Simon Rogan’s second restaurant at The Midland Hotel (not the one shown on the programme), and it’s much more trendy than its older sister. ‘Life is delicious’ exclaims it’s website, and we couldn’t agree more. All manner of fantastical foods await at Mr. Cooper’s, so get down to try something you know and something you don’t. You’re going to want to step in for something spicy at firm favourite Mughli. This is Indian all dolled up, but with flavours that pack a punch. Forget your late night post-club curry, this food deserves a night of its own.
Mughli, 30 Wilmslow Rd, Manchester, Lancashire, UK, 0161 248 0900
Last but not least is the hallowed foodie haven of Bray. Two out of four of the UK’s 3 Michelin starred restaurants reside in this quiet town – the only explanation is an overflow of radioactive dough. One of two untrained 3 star Michelin chefs in the world, Heston Blumenthal has been making waves since 1995 at The Fat Duck. Unless you are extremely well connected, expect to be on a very long waiting list. But worth it when you consider that it this is one of the world’s most famous culinary experiences, half dining, half theatre, and a smidge of good humour.
It is presently closed for refurbishment, so consider heading to Blumenthal’s other scheme, The Hind’s Head. This pub holds one Michelin star, so you’re hardly going to be getting slop. In fact, it is a menu full of what you might first believe to be classics but always come with a healthy dose of that head-spinning Heston magic. For something a little less upmarket, The Crown at Bray is another reputable establishment. All the pub classics are covered, and the dining room is an historic beauty to behold. Settle down to some steak and bone marrow in front of a roaring fire.
By Alexandra Gushurst-Moore