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“A fantasy journey through the medium of food” is how one stunned reader describes Marc Wilkinson’s “small but very special” restaurant; others simply marvel at the “non-stop ingenuity” of this Merseyside one-off. Hidden behind a frosted-glass shop front in a pretty Merseyside enclave, pint-sized Fraiche plays it low key, quietly concentrating on getting the details just right – note the specially commissioned glass sculptures and suede chairs in the serene, bijou dining room. Wilkinson eschews TV fame and showboating in favour of a single-minded dedication to his craft – in fact the whole place represents “his life’s work”. Cooking alone, he explores the extreme fringes of gastro-science through an “extraordinary” six-course ‘signature menu combining art, theatre and entertainment on a plate: it’s an ever-changing trip, but a typically sublime Michelin-starred journey might run from almond gazpacho with cherry and asparagus via Gressingham duck with cocoa crisp and kohlrabi or fillet of brill with smoked eel and leeks to the enigmatically titled ‘fizzy grapes’ and ‘salt or sugar’. Supremely friendly staff really know their stuff, and ambitious wine flights regularly hit the target – in fact the whole experience is a “utterly sensational”.
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.
If there’s one thing Cheshire has in abundance it’s picturesque rural pubs that serve exceptional food. When I heard that Nigel Haworth and Craig Bancroft’s Ribble Valley Inns were moving south and taking over The Nags Head at Haughton I was intrigued to see what they would do with it to stand out from the crowd.For those that don’t know Ribble Valley Inns are a Lancashire-based pub/restaurant group that specialise in setting up establishments that serve excellent food, using seasonal produce from local suppliers...
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