16. A Wong, London
I have a huge thing for Chinese food. If I could have made every restaurant on this list dim sum–oriented, believe me I would have. Alas, in the interest of balance, I’ll stick to A Wong.
Running along the lines of Hakkasan, Hunan, Yauatcha, and HKK, here you’ll find stylish, modern interpretations of Chinese dishes, but, brilliantly, at reasonable prices. Think plump, steaming dim sum and street food that can be ordered by the piece for £1.30 a pop. Go before they inevitably decide to hike the prices.
17. Lake Road Kitchen, Ambleside, Cumbria
These guys do cracking bread. Crusty, fat loaves served with virgin butter to spoon on. And if the eyes are the window to the soul, then surely bread is the window to a restaurant’s. The bread is just the beginning: The food is Nordic-inspired, with all the best things that term entails. Foraged ingredients, a near obsession with local produce, and gorgeously calming Scandi interiors.
18. Smokestak, London
It seems the hottest dining tip you can take this year is to watch the street food trucks, and see which ones get their own permanent locations. All the best new restaurants in London have come up that way, and Smokestak is no exception.
Serving a more adult version of classic barbecue, here you’ll find cured pigs jowls, crispy ox cheek, romesco-drizzled monkfish, beetroot baked in salt and served with hazelnuts, and of course, all the beef brisket and thick-cut pork ribs your heart could desire.
19. The Wilderness, Birmingham
Creative, brilliantly dramatic British food from Alex Claridge, a chef who is definitely one to watch. The restaurant is every bit as dramatic as the food, with moss growing over the walls and green rioting over every available surface.
If you have the dollar, order the tasting menu – it may be bloody expensive, but it’s worth it. And at the rate this place is booking up, you may not be able to get back in anytime soon. Best to make the most of your visit while you’re there.
A little slice of Paris’s 4th arrondissement in Liverpool, here you’ll find gorgeous small plates (octopus oozing with pomegranate molasses, burrata studded with pistachio, pickled aubergine and smoky duck) and gorgeous drinks too. I am 100% here for the beetroot and hibiscus G&T.