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Compared to the fantastical, thrill-inducing Fat Duck a few doors away, Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin-starred gastropub has its feet planted resolutely on terra firma: ancient oak pillars support low ceilings, the floors creak, there are real ales on tap, and the bar still feels like a local – despite the relentless onslaught of gastro-pilgrims. The menu is a mixed bag of creatively rendered British standards, with ideas plundered from yesterday’s cookbooks and some tongue-in-cheek Heston-style wisecracks along the way: “every time I eat here I’m wowed” confesses one fan who admires its “continued brilliance”. Everyone talks about the Scotch eggs, but it’s also worth nibbling some devils on horseback if you’re peckish; otherwise, work your way through the menu, from lamb’s tongue on toast with smoked anchovies via bone-in sirloin of veal with cabbage and sauce Reform or cod with wilted chard, borage and mussel broth to ‘quaking pudding’ or strawberry tart with elderflower sorbet. It’s claimed Heston invented triple-cooked chips here, and they’re exemplary too. Excellent service “always makes you feel special”, there are inventive cocktails to sip and prices are very fair. In short, an all-round winner.
Squaremeal’s Best Restaurants in the UK 2016 is compiled using votes from our annual survey, last conducted in spring 2016. Thousands of readers and bloggers took part and the results were moderated by the Squaremeal editor and his nationwide team of professional reviewers. The survey does not ask for or include any restaurants in London. Click here for a full list of Squaremeal’s Best Restaurants in the UK.
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