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Shaun Hill has been a busy man since closing his acclaimed restaurant The Merchant House in Ludlow in 2005. Not only has he consulted on the revamped restaurants at Fortnum & Mason but he’s also just resurrected The Walnut Tree Inn near Abergavenny. The restaurant has had an illustrious history but had fallen on hard times recently, even featuring in the Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares series, so we hope Hill can restore the place to its former glory. The wholesome menu, featuring parsnip and truffle pudding, poached knuckle of veal in its own cooking liquor and steamed marmalade pudding with custard certainly sounds appealing.
Fans of The Crown at Whitebrook in Monmouthshire, which last year won a Michelin star, will be pleased to hear that head chef James Sommerin has taken his exquisite modern European cooking further afield. At the five-star Celtic Manor hotel in Newport, Sommerin is overseeing a new fine-dining restaurant, The Crown at Celtic Manor. Coldra Woods, The Usk Valley, Newport, South Wales, 01633 413000.
Liverpool is getting a gastro-boost to its year as European Capital of Culture with the recent opening of The Panoramic restaurant. Sitting pretty on the 34th floor of the city’s Beetham Tower, the new hot-spot offers spectacular 360-degree views with a sleek interior that combines plush furnishings and a neutral colour scheme. The modern European menu offers the likes of scallops, skate and foie gras, as well as mains including lamb rump and sweetbreads, or Dublin Bay prawns with slow-cooked pork belly, ears and trotters.
As well as 43 new rooms and suites, the multi-million pound refurbishment at the South Lodge Hotel in West Sussex this summer will include a restaurant with a twist. The Pass isn’t your usual eatery. The idea is that the whole restaurant, which can only hold a maximum of 22 diners, is like a chef’s table with glass walls surrounding the kitchen (plus plasma-screen TVs for close-ups) enabling diners to see exactly what the chefs are up to. Brighton Road, Lower Beeding, near Horsham, West Sussex, 01403 891711.
Following an extensive refurbishment, the Branksome Beach Restaurant has reopened with a brand-new look. Floor-to-ceiling windows make the most of the stunning views out over Poole Bay, the Purbecks and the Isle of Wight and the interiors have been given a contemporary makeover. The British menu has also been spruced up with spring offerings including pan-fried fillets of mackerel in horseradish crust. Pinecliff Road, Branksome Chine, Poole, Dorset, 01202 767235.
Earlier this year Aldo Zilli denounced bottled water in his London eateries, and it’s tap-water only at his new Brighton outpost, Zilli Cafe – an informal Italian deli serving simple pasta, salads and sandwiches. The deli is part of the city’s new myhotel, launching in the summer, along with his smarter restaurant Zilli. Myhotel Brighton, 17 Jubilee Street, Brighton, 01273 900300.