We had a mighty response this year in our quest to find the BMW Square Meal UK Restaurant of the Year 2015, with thousands of votes flooding in from readers, bloggers and reviewers up and down the country. The result is a brand-new list of the 50 best places to eat outside London which showcases the sheer quality and variety of the UK restaurant scene, and the talent behind it.
Amiable staff and a relaxed atmosphere were a running theme among this year’s most notable restaurants, with Artichoke (in Buckinghamshire) scoring highly thanks to “friendly, skilled staff” and an open-plan kitchen that creates a convivial buzz. But that’s not to say fine dining is out. The sumptuous surroundings and elaborate French cuisine from André Garrett in the famous stately home of Cliveden (near Maidenhead) bagged it a place near the top of the list, while Manchester’s The French by Simon Rogan – renowned for its opulent decor and tasting menus – was also a worthy front runner.
But the winner of our Best UK Restaurant 2015 is Tom Kerridge’s Marlow gastropub, The Hand & Flowers (above and below). This terrifically popular venture is the first (and only) pub to hold two Michelin stars, and exemplifies the trend towards providing premium dining in an informal setting. Explaining the philosophy behind the restaurant, Kerridge commented: “We’re all fairly grounded people who have tried to create an environment where we would like to spend time ourselves. We talk to our customers how we would like to be talked to: normal people having a chat with other normal people.”
“We never set out to win awards,” continued Kerridge, but his unfussy formula of “simple food with simple ideas that everyone understands” is clearly a winning one, the key to success, he says, being “brilliant staff”.
Congratulations to all at The Hand & Flowers (above), who join last year’s winner Northcote in our Square Meal BMW Hall of Fame. And a big thank you to BMW for its sponsorship of the awards for the 15th consecutive year. You will not be disappointed by a meal at any of the winners.
Top 10 UK Restaurants 2015
1. The Hand & Flowers
3. Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons
5. The French by Simon Rogan
6. Midsummer House
7. The Waterside Inn
8. André Garrett at Cliveden
10. Restaurant Nathan Outlaw
Look out for our UK Top 100 Restaurants list coming soon.
Portrait by Laurie Fletcher
This article was published 14 July 2015