The Barbary, Covent Garden
Sit at the horseshoe counter, choose from a menu that spans the Levant, watch the chatty chefs cook over fire, and don’t miss the breads or puddings.
16 Neal’s Yard, WC2H 9DP; thebarbary.co.uk
Gather E17, Walthamstow
Run by a husband and wife team big on modern British cooking, Gather E17 is based at the back of jeans factory. As well the three- four- or five-course set menus, it’s open for brunch at the weekend.
114B Blackhorse Ln, E17 6AA; 07908 897128; gathere17.co.uk
Little Viet Kitchen, Islington
Thuy Pham brings a fresh take on authentic Vietnamese flavours to north London.
2 Chapel Market, N1 9EZ; 020 7837 9779; littlevietkitchen.com
The Ingham Swan, Ingham
A long-time favourite in this category, chef-proprietor Daniel Smith reopened the Swan in March after a huge fire in 2017. Skilfully cooked Norfolk produce (Kings Lynn brown shrimp, Cromer crab, Tacons asparagus). Don’t miss Smith’s take on a peach melba, as seen on Great British Menu and served with a peach foam bellini.
Sea Palling Rd, NR12 9AB; 01692 581099; inghamswan.co.uk
Richard Bainbridge’s pared-back bistro is dedicated to making the most of his home county’s produce – Norfolk dumplings are served with new season peas and cheese-rind foam.
9 St Benedicts St, NR2 4PE; 01603 926080; restaurantbenedicts.com
Classic ingredient combinations are given a boost here, with heritage tomatoes paired with a comte panna cotta, while strawberries come with clotted cream and meadowsweet mousse.
79 Upper St Giles St, NR2 1AB; 01603 633522; rogerhickmansrestaurant.com
Choose from the five-, seven- or 10-course menus, with clever touches such as enhancing the ubiquitous cauliflower with the umami of roasted yeast.
192 Derby Rd, NG7 1NF; 0115 941 3515; alchemillarestaurant.uk
Carters of Moseley, Birmingham
“A little bit magical,” was how the Guardian’s Grace Dent described Brad Carter’s cooking in 2018. Menus start at £45 for four courses – a bargain for food this exciting.
2c Wake Green Rd, B13 9EZ; 0121 449 8885; cartersofmoseley.co.uk
Casual elegance is the order of the day, in the décor and on the plate. An inventive approach in the kitchen to seasonal ingredients sees plaice, cabbage and chicken of the wood mushrooms given a luxe edge with a shellfish cream, and cherry beer turned into ice-cream.
20 Highfield Rd, B15 3DU; 0121 454 3434; simpsonsrestaurant.co.uk
The Black Swan, Oldstead
Winner of 2019’s Local Food Hero, Tommy Banks was the UK’s youngest Michelin star chef, and the acclaim has continued ever since. One tasting menu, with nine rooms available, should you wish to stay over.
Oldstead, YO61 4BL; 01347 868387; blackswanoldstead.co.uk
Another Tommy Banks restaurant, more casual than the Black Swan, though the small plates – nasturtium caesar, or sea bass and strawberries – still bear his mark.
68 Marygate, YO30 7BH; rootsyork.com (online booking only)
This mini-chain is satisfying cities of the north-east with salt-aged beef, including Wagyu, and traditional steak-house sauces and sides.
Various locations; tomahawk-steakhouse.co.uk
The Small Holding, Cranbrook
Much of the produce used in the kitchen is grown on its own farm, so expect menus to not only move with the season but with what’s been lifted from the ground that morning.
Ranters Ln TN17 2SG; 01892 890105; thesmallholding.restaurant
Lata Lata, High Wycombe
This very new, crowdfunded casual restaurant is from the same owners as regular Cheap Eats runner-up the Tin Kitchen. The menu is based around small dishes such green almond soup with fino, or lamb shoulder with sorrel.
St Mary St, HP11 2HE; 07791 847214; latalata.co.uk
The West House, Biddenden, Kent
This humble looking room, white-washed brick and rough hewn wooden beams, has long been flying the flag for local and seasonal, cooked by Graham Garrett’s assured hands – try the Kentish strawberry cannoli, or the butter-poached lobster in a parmesan shortbread tart.
28 High St, TN27 8AH; 01580 291341; thewesthouserestaurant.co.uk
The Seahorse, Dartmouth
Mitch Tonks’s famed restaurant specialises in, of course, seafood, cooked over charcoal. Amazingly, there’s three courses for £20 at lunch; how does crisp sprats, followed by whole grilled red mullet, then choc-chip gelato sound?
5 S Embankment, TQ6 9BH; 01803 835147; seahorserestaurant.co.uk
“The thing is it’s so gorgeously uncomplicated,” wrote our own Jay Rayner in his review of Wilson’s. Don’t mistake uncomplicated for a lack of skill or imagination – it’s here in abundance in the prettily composed plates of lobster, basil and redcurrants, or mackerel given the hasselback effect and served with poached oyster.
24 Chandos Rd, BS6 6PF; 0117 973 4157; wilsonsrestaurant.co.uk
Organic salad bowls and a superior all-day brunch (pork belly and fried eggs with limey onions) give way to an evening menu that shows off the best of Cornwall’s farms, allotments and day boats.
10 Granville Terrace, EX23 8JZ; 01288 354739; templecornwall.com
Ballintaggart Farm, Grandtully, Perthshire
This new restaurant-hotel may be rural but it’s refined and bookings are essential for the “taste of the Highlands” menu featuring smoked wood pigeon with raspberry and walnuts, or roe deer carpaccio with wood sorrel.
Grandtully, PH9 0PX; 01887 447000; ballintaggart.com
Julie’s Kopitiam, Glasgow
Malaysian coffee house that delights locals with keenly priced street-food and home recipes, including char kway teow, pandan panna cotta and mooli fritters with XO sauce.
1109 Pollokshaws Rd, G41 3YG; 0141 237 9560; facebook.com/julieskopitiam
Two Fat Ladies at the Buttery, Glasgow
If you weren’t sure where you were, the tartan-clad dining room will give it away, as will Scottish classics such as cullen skink, or west-coast scallops with haggis.
652 Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8UF; 0141 221 8188; twofatladiesrestaurant.com
Y Polyn, Carmarthen
You’ll need to book to sample the weekly changing menu at this converted coach inn. Three courses for £20.50 is a steal for cooking this good.
Capel Dewi, SA32 7LH; 01267 290000; ypolyn.co.uk
The Whitebrook, Monmouth
Locally farmed and foraged produce takes pride of place, and vegetables especially show off chef Chris Harrod’s creativity in dishes such as young and fermented carrots with alexander and sea beet, and caramelised roast jerusalem artichokes with crisped shavings of skin, goat’s curd and “forest findings”.
Monmouth NP25 4TX; 01600 860254; thewhitebrook.co.uk
Hang Fire, Barry
Winners last year, thanks to its moreish, want-to-eat-everything menu of southern US classics done right: burnt ends, chicken and waffles, deep-fried dill pickles, gumbo and mac’n’cheese.
The Pumphouse, Hood Rd, CF62 5BE; hangfiresouthernkitchen.com (online booking only)
Highly regarded for its understated excellence. Ox, said Jay Rayner in 2013, “wants to celebrate the best ingredients on its doorstep, and do it with unstudied professionalism”.
1 Oxford St, BT1 3LA; 028 9031 4121; oxbelfast.com
James Street, Belfast
Local steaks and seafood from the grill are a focus, but customers also have plenty of love for the bistro classics such as terrines, chowder and risotto, and a “taste of the island” menu.
19 James St S, BT2 7GA; 028 9560 0700; jamesstandco.com
A stylish room with a stylish menu of Irish produce with a Mediterranean twist, so at brunch smoked haddock comes with a fennel hash, and local lamb chops are served with minted cannellini beans.
33 Donegall St, Commercial Ct, BT1 2NB; 028 9032 5444; jamesstandco.com/hadskis
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