The UK’s restaurant bucket list – Part 1
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We’ve teamed up with Bookatable by Michelin to compile a list of the UK’s best restaurants for every budget.
Great Britain may be a small island, but it punches well above its weight when it comes to all things culinary. Forget your preconceptions about the UK being the land of bland beige nothingness – there are few places in the world that offer keen restaurant goers such a wide range but also quality of global cuisine.
In part one of our list of the UK’s best restaurants, we’ll cover London, Manchester and Liverpool.
Let’s get stuck in – and remember that you can quickly book a table at any of these restaurants by clicking the link on each one.
Yes, we know we said we were offering something for every pocket, but leaving The Ritz out of a list of the best places to eat would be like putting jam on a scone first.
Sure, the dress code requires you to leave the jeans at home, but it’s worth it – head chef John Williams not only has an MBE, but also brings a masterful touch to the menu. It’s a Michelin-starred kitchen, so you can expect one of the best fillets of monkfish (with lobster fricassee, naturally) you’ll have ever tasted.
This delightfully rustic BBQ shack couldn’t be further from the Ritz in terms of opulence, but it’s on a par for attention to detail and – if anything – even more intimate. Seating just 13, this smokehouse train carriage is tucked away in the ever-popular Truman Brewery on Brick Lane.
You can expect a mouth-watering selection of burgers, smoked meats and chunky slaws, combined with some pretty epic cheese. Be sure to try The Fat Controller – a perfect blend of 10-hour cooked pulled pork, pickles and smoked cheddar.
How could we mention London eats without an Indian? Benares in Mayfair is arguably one of the best Indian eats in the UK. Yes, it’s Michelin-starred fare as opposed to homely local curries, but this means you’re ensured a menu as varied as it is lengthy, with everything from cured sea bream in tiger milk to duck breast croquettes and tandoori chicken with pomegranate salad. Dribbling a bit? Yep, us too. And that’s before you check out the incredible cocktail menu…
Named after Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, Dalloway Terrace is a terribly English courtyard oasis designed to transport you out of the city and into the countryside. Amid walls of seasonal blooms, Dalloway Terrace has a menu loaded with light bites, breakfast options and all-day options such as satay chicken tostadas, Dover sole meuniere and summery pavlovas. The whole courtyard is heated all year round, so it’s a killer spot for a bit of snug wintertime grub.
Want to see more of London’s lushest eats? See all of London’s best restaurants here.
Home to Manchester’s coolest afternoon tea and cocktails, Cloud 23 is set in a trendy penthouse on Deansgate in the heart of the city. The drinks menu is themed around a journey through Manchester’s iconic moments, from its Roman foundations as Mamcumium (which, apparently, was big on Vodka, Bergamot, Rosemary and Samphire soda) all the way through to the city’s pivotal role as the founding location for Vimto. Yup, the purple drink has its own cocktail at Cloud 23: the Vimtonic. And we want one. And some of Cloud 23’s extensive taco menu.
James Martin Manchester
Pop inside the Manchester235 Casino and you’ll find one of the city’s top places to eat. Founded by celebrity chef James Martin, his Manchester restaurant serves up seasonal fare using ingredients from selected suppliers. The seasonal menu has recently included Thai crab risotto, seaweed butter poached hake, apple crumble souffle, and chocolate and whiskey croissant pudding. There’s also a fantastic afternoon tea option if you’re not in the mood for the full works.
Adam Reid at the French
Adam Reid at the French has been a huge hit with Bookatable by Michelin diners, who love its cosy atmosphere and inventive menus. The Great British Menu offers up a tingling musical tour through Manchester’s history, from the Beatles to Northern Soul (almond-poached cod in smoked roe sauce) to a Madchester themed treacle tart dessert. It’s fine dining with a fun narrative – think of it as stories you can eat.
The Art School
Something of a local hotspot, the Art School is arguably the best restaurant in Liverpool, thanks in part to its dramatic Victorian architecture, complete with skylight ceiling – and a range of menus that offer a delicious spread of seasonal meat and veg. Will you go for the rump of Galloway beef topped with caramelized shallot puree? Or perhaps the asian-marinated fried tofu from the vegan prix fixe menu might be more up your street. Either way, the Art School’s a stunning place to get a lesson in fine dining without breaking the bank.
As well as having a fantastic name, Coucou Canard is an outstanding little French bistro. Serving what it terms as French-style Tapas, Coucou Canard brings a bit of chic to the city’s Cavern Quarter. As well as opening for a continental breakfast, it gives you the perfect opportunity to slurp your way through a classic French onion soup in central Liverpool. And, because the food is served Tapas-style, you can try a whole world of meats, fish and veggie dishes without breaking the bank.
The Shipping Forecast
We won’t lie – we picked the Shipping Forecast as our final pick for this list of the UK’s best eats simply because the menu made us dribble a bit. Set in an old brick warehouse, it’s actually a shrine to the dirtiest American-style food you can get your lips around. It’s a phenomenally popular choice with Bookatable diners, and that’s not just because it offers a Banana BBQ coating for its chicken wings. No, that’s not a typo.
If that doesn’t quite do it for you, then how about black treacle belly bacon or katsu curry fries? I think we’re going to need a lie down just thinking about it.
Not loving what you’re seeing? Check out the best restaurants in Liverpool here.