The Good Food Guide has announced its top eateries across the UK.
Alongside fine dining establishments, the guide has also uncovered some unusual gourmet locations including a café in a motorway service station, another in a bike shop, and a restaurant in a yurt. And, for the first time, it has revealed where the nation’s best dessert menus can be found.
The winning restaurant is L’Enclume in the village of Cartmel in Cumbria, which has been crowned number one for the fourth year running.
The Good Food Guide awarded it top billing due to the ‘soaring sophistication of [chef Simon] 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.
Simon said: “It’s amazing news to be number one for the fourth year. I’m really grateful to The Good Food Guide for their faith in awarding us top spot once more, and appreciative of the enormous effect it has on our business. It’s a huge achievement but could not happen without a massive team effort. For me, it’s a privilege to lead this outstanding group of people. There’s no doubt that L’Enclume is approaching the most creative period in its history, and achieving the quality I dreamed of when I first opened its doors.”
Second place was awarded to Restaurant Nathan Outlaw at Port Isaac in Cornwall. The Good Food Guide praised this seafood restaurant as ‘a role model of its kind. No pretensions or gimmicks, just first-class food and knowledgeable and welcoming service’. Responding to news of the accolade, chef Nathan Outlaw said: £I honestly thought I was dreaming when I found out. Over the years of continuously cooking and serving our customers, we’ve always tried our hardest to do our best and when you get recognised like this, it means the world to us all.”
Top 50 Restaurants
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 that make it into the Top 10.
Each restaurant is scored based on editor appraisal and strength of reader feedback. The scores are in brackets at the end of each restaurant name (in the list below). A top score of 10 means ‘just perfect dishes, showing faultless technique at every service’.
New to the Top 10 are Forest Side in Cumbria, Castle Terrace in Edinburgh, The Greenhouse in London, Simpsons in Birmingham, Orwells in Oxfordshire, Restaurant Marianne in London and The Whitebrook in Gwent.
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)
23 The Kitchin, Edinburgh (7)
24 Bohemia, Jersey (7)
25 The Greenhouse, London (7)
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)
36 Sketch, London (7)
37 Forest Side, Cumbria (7)
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)
45 Restaurant Marianne, London (7)
46 Hambleton Hall, Rutland (7)
47 The Whitebrook, Gwent (7)
48 Llangoed Hall, Powys (7)
49 Lake Road Kitchen, Cumbria (6)
50 The Dairy, London (6)
The Good Food Guide, along with its team of anonymous inspectors and loyal readers, also uncovered a range of foodie finds in unconventional settings and structures.
The foodie bible features three restaurants housed in shipping containers: Cook House in Newcastle, Craftworks Street Kitchen in Truro, and Kricket in Brixton in London.
Then there’s a ‘modern marvel’ in a service station: Gloucester Services on the M5 is an ‘independently run motorway pit-stop’ with a gourmet café committed to locally sourced food.
Also new to the Good Food Guide this year is Shuck’s at the Yurt, a restaurant housed in a yurt in Norfolk. The eatery is located in an orchard. And in Bristol, you’ll find a brunch menu and tapas at Spoke and Stringer, a café which is part of a bike and surf shop.
For some, dessert is the best course on the menu. And for the first time the Good Food Guide has disclosed where the nation can tuck into the very best puddings.
Top recommendations were the North of the Border Tart served by Scottish restaurant The Whitehouse in Lochaline. The Tart is ‘filled with dried fruits, cherries, nuts and whisky. Nothing fancy – no towers, twirls or crisps – just a really comforting pud’.
The unusual Warm Blood-Orange, Sheep’s Milk Yoghurt and Wild Fennel Granita can be found at the Clove Club in London. The Good Good Guide noted it ‘came with shards of dehydrated milk-froth – like eating a crisp, malty cloud. The whole thing was seriously delicious’.
At the Village Pub in Barnsley diners can find the ‘finest sticky toffee pudding’, described as ‘a dark, moist, treacly sponge swimming in a runny toffee sauce, and rich as muscovado, with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream’.
And Orwells in Oxfordshire’s take on caramel apples – ‘a cylinder of chopped, braised apple encased in a wafer of pastry, itself wrapped in a thin layer of apple jelly with salted caramel and a milk ice cream’ was described as ‘extraordinary’.
‘A golden era for restaurants’
This year the Good Food Guide, which is owned by supermarket chain Waitrose, celebrates the 10th year of editor Elizabeth Carter at the helm.
She said of the last decade: “I’ve certainly seen changes in the UK restaurant scene in my 10 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 and less formal, with more flexible opening times and menus, and 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 it’s well worth it, when you consider the all-day eateries, cafe´s, pizzerias, seafood shacks and pubs of genuine high quality offering everyday eating at everyday prices.”
Waitrose has also announced the Editors’ Awards from the 2017 Good Food Guide. These awards recognise restaurants and chefs who have shown excellence in their field.
The winners are:
Chef of the Year: James Close from The Raby Hunt in Durham
Chef to Watch: Ben Murphy from The Woodford at South Woodford in London
Restaurant of the Year: Orwells at Shiplake in Oxfordshire
Best New Entry: Forest Side at Grasmere in Cumbria
Best Front-of-House (which celebrates the best restaurant customer service in the UK): Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social in London
Best Small Group: Dishoom in London
Local Restaurant of the Year: Wine & Brine at Moira in Armagh