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Adam Reid at the French
Peter Street, Manchester, M60 2DS
The cutting edge of modern British food is just an amble from Piccadilly station at The Midland Hotel. And while it’s in a fancy space and the prices (like most here) aren’t incredibly chucklesome, the fun is on the plates. Everyone wants to talk about Reid’s playful Clementine sweet dish, which is actually a sugar blown shell filled with chocolate mousse. But there’s more here besides… we’re keenest on Tater ’ash with mushroom catsup.
The Man Behind The Curtain
Vicar Lane, Leeds LS1 7JH
You may remember that time on The Great British Menu when a chef with more hair than face knocked us off our teatime sofas with his originality. His ‘fish and chips’ was served on a canvas streaked with squid ink and looked more like an angsty artwork than an incredibly delicious fish dish. Luckily for us, that man, Michael O’Hare opened The Man Behind The Curtain, won a Michelin star in 2015 and still serves that amazing dish – Emancipation – plus more besides. This place has to be on your list.
The Gardener’s Cottage
London Road, Edinburgh EH7 5DX
Two long communal tables are set out for diners here. Which isn’t for everyone, but don’t let that put you off coming to this magical place, a beautiful escape from the city that (through some arcane magic) somehow manages to be bang in the centre. To sum up we’ll turn to restaurant critic Jay Rayner: “Can it really be this perfect? On balance, I'd say yes. It can.” If you’re staying in Edinburgh then, for breakfast the following day, you can head to The Lookout by Gardener’s Cottage that offers heartbreakingly good food and some jaw-dropping views.
Where The Light Gets In
Rostron Brow, Stockport, SK1 1JY
The furore surrounding this diamond in a warehouse has almost died down (5 stars from both the Guardian and The Times). But every time you think it will just become another date on the gastronomical calendar, head chef-patron Samuel Buckley livens things up again. On top of that, via their email newsletter and journal, they are constantly hosting different evenings and fundraisers and connecting with their local and vocal fan base. Come here for a complete farm to table experience.
Ox and Finch
Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G3 7TF
This place – which wowed Glasgow when it turned up in 2014 – is a small plate place where dishes are presented whenever their done – like a tapas gaff. That lends itself to lots of sharing, picking, chatting about food, while eating… you know the sort of thing that makes for an amazing meal. Of course, because the food here is superb (even the chips: chips with roast garlic aioli) you have to be very good at sharing, because you don’t want to miss a thing.
The Raby Hunt
Summerhouse, Darlington, DL2 3UD
The 15-minute cab ride to and from the station will be a tale of contrasting emotions. On the way there you’ll be filled with anticipation: will it live up to the hype? Are the things you’ve envisaged even on the menu? Why is your mouth already filling with saliva? And on the way back you’ll be sated, relaxed and eager to chat, or keep chatting, about your meal and also keen to book your next visit. The Raby Hunt serves one menu of 15 dishes for £140. It’s also one of only 20 restaurants in the country that has two Michelin stars, and it’s the only one in the North East.
The Art School Restaurant
Sugnall Street, Liverpool, L7 7EB
Hope Street and the surrounding area are a real destination for art and culture lovers. And where you find art and culture lovers you also find great coffee and amazing restaurants. Liverpool is no different. This area hosts The London Carriage Works, Roski, even The Philharmonic Dining Rooms – an absolute must-visit pub. We’re here for The Art School though, where you’ll encounter the finest of dining. This is a posh night out so you and your wallet need to be apprised of the situation, but with tasting menus at £95 a head, it’s definitely not ‘London prices’. Treat yourself some amazing food in one of the loveliest parts of Liverpool.
Marygate, York, YO30 7BH
Despite York’s huge gravitational pull for tourists, it’s a serious city and a real Northern powerhouse. Sadly, however, many residents of the North just know it as a place where they once wandered around the dungeons or walked on the wall. Well, here’s another reason to visit: Roots is a seriously impressive restaurant that takes its food seriously. With a seasonally changing menu, this place won’t just feed you, it could well change your view of what food can do.