SquareMeal Award - Best UK Restaurant

SquareMeal features hundreds of restaurant reviews about London restaurants, but we love to recognised culinary talent outside of the capital too. The SquareMeal Best UK Restaurant award is given only to those restaurants that have proved themselves to be at the forefront of innovation and taste in the UK dining scene. Take a look at all of the restaurants which have won The SquareMeal Best UK Restaurant award below, click through to read the full reviews and book a table with SquareMeal today. 

Updated on 30 May 2018

Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms

Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms

Lenton Lane, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG7 2SA

It sounds almost too surreal to be true – a boundary-pushing restaurant-with-rooms housed in a collection of converted barns near the Nottingham ruing road, with a flyover for company. Mind you, the eponymous Sat Bains is very much his own man, and his relentlessly inspired two-Michelin-starred cooking represents “experimental fine dining at its best”, according to one fan. Meticulous planning comes as standard, and we’ve been bowled over by the results. Evening meals take place in two rather neutral, stone-floored dining rooms, allowing diners to focus on Bains’ brilliantly balanced, colour-coded tasting menus – a succession of startling dishes with high-powered hits across the board. An introduction entitled ‘NG7 2SA’ (the restaurant’s postcode) celebrates the area’s wild pickings and sets the scene for esoteric marriages and cutting-edge concepts – think veal croquette with hollandaise, pickles and autumn ceps; tagliatelle of kohlrabi with ‘glasshouse’ pesto and Parmesan 2012 vintage or tagine-spiced Anjou pigeon partnered by a pastilla, melon and feta. After that, a ‘crossover’ signals the move towards sweetness in the shape of, say, Bramley apple with caramel, waffles and pine. This is no place for penny-pinching, so take full advantage of the stupendous big-money wine list. Meanwhile, Amanda Bains oversees a team of lovely staff who “go out of their way to make your stay so special”.

Over £80
Modern European
Two michelin stars
SquareMeal UK Hot 100
The Walnut Tree

The Walnut Tree

Llanddewi Skirrid, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, NP7 8AW

“A great all-round experience!” exclaims an admirer of this reinvigorated Welsh icon; others simply confirm that it’s a truly special restaurant. We’re also fans of chef/patron Shaun Hill, and reckon he deserves a round of applause for putting The Walnut Tree back on the Michelin-starred map in his highly distinctive manner. This place works to a magic formula, serving keenly priced, intelligent food in refreshingly unfussy surroundings (beams, local artwork, rustic furnishings etc). The “calm yet friendly” vibe is helped along by chatty but knowledgeable staff, and vegetarians “always feel very welcome” here. Cracking set lunches are a bargain, while the equally good-value carte could yield anything from twice-baked Lancashire cheese soufflé with beetroot to skate with grilled octopus and red pepper sauce or veal kidneys with streaky bacon and cassis. Cleverly realised British and European flavours also collide on the pudding list – think Jaffa torte or caramel fondant with milk ice cream. The location in the foothills of the Black Mountains is glorious and the whole place regularly resounds with chat and laughter – there’s even bookable cottage accommodation nearby.

£30 - £49
British
Northcote

Northcote

Northcote Road, Blackburn, Lancashire, BB6 8BE

A comfortable country house hotel on the edge of the Ribble Valley, Northcote has held a Michelin star for over two decades. Chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen has recently taken the reins from her mentor Nigel Haworth, and while the restaurant’s snow-white cloths and sparkling glassware still smack of traditional fine dining, the new menu is fresh and modern. Lancashire’s natural larder provides ample opportunity for seasonal, locally sourced ingredients to shine. Char-grilled asparagus was packed with flavour, served simply with creamy sheep’s curd and sharp wood-sorrel leaves, while deliciously sticky lamb breast came paired with a pillow of caramelised shallot purée. A photogenic dish of fat, sweet scarlet prawns with wild-garlic foam and beurre blanc sauce was a technically perfect rendition; we followed it with an earthy plate of succulent squab pigeon, its breast roasted on the bone and the confit leg accompanied by turnip and morels. Matched with note-perfect wines and friendly service, this is a treat of a tasting menu: light and playful, but with real confidence and skill on show. An inviting new chapter for this legendary Lancastrian heavyweight.

 

Over £80
British
Afternoon tea
One michelin star
SquareMeal UK Hot 100
The Hand and Flowers

The Hand and Flowers

126 West Street, Marlow, Buckinghamshire, SL7 2BP

Tom Kerridge is currently doing for Marlow what Rick Stein did for Padstow: his name is everywhere, and his fingers are in an increasing number of local pies – including The Shed, a new private dining room a few doors away from his two-Michelin-starred flagship. “What’s not to love” exclaims one reader, and we’re not surprised when others wax lyrical about The Hand and Flowers: “fantastic and not too fussy”; “incredible food, so unique yet beautifully simple” – the plaudits just keep coming. The pay-off for lucky diners is a rolling menu of Kerridge’s greatest hits and tricksy fresh-faced ideas with a seasonal smile – think lamb and haggis toast with chorizo mayo, whipped cheese and mint jelly, slow-cooked duck breast with apricot purée, morels and a Moroccan-style savoury tart or the fish du jour served with char-roasted alliums, cheese mash, avruga caviar and sauce ‘bonne femme’. This is a world away from your average gastropub fodder, and there are delicious surprises right to the very end: one reader loved the “mini ale” served with his dessert (a boozy chocolate and ale cake with salted caramel and muscovado ice cream). The only downside is the fact that you have to book “ages in advance”, but that’s small beer when the restaurant can deliver such quality, warmth and pleasure.

Over £80
British
Gastropub
Two michelin stars
SquareMeal UK Hot 100
The Dining Room at Whatley Manor

The Dining Room at Whatley Manor

Easton Grey, Malmesbury, Wiltshire, SN16 0RB

Lavishly turned out as a country-chic hotel, this ivy-clad Wiltshire grandee is now one of the UK’s great escapes – an epicurean package crowned by the immaculately appointed Dining Room. The departure of chef Martin Burge left new boy Niall Keating (ex-Restaurant Sat Bains) with big shoes to fill, but he’s risen to the challenge by beefing up the tasting menu to 12-plus courses and garnering a Michelin star in the process. Global influences abound, although there’s a fondness for Asian twists – as in turbot with pear and yuzukosho seasoning or a pairing of dried tuna, miso soup and turnip. Such zesty experimentation occasionally teeters off-course, but the gastronomically curious will have a field day and there's much to enjoy – from silken tofu with Exmoor caviar and chicken broth to a dessert involving clementines, black truffle and miso. Simpler pleasures, such as crisp-crusted mini sourdough loaves and post-dessert ‘treats’ also demonstrate a slick kitchen. Equally dynamic wine pairings are a worthwhile investment, while the sight of the chefs out front is a nice touch. For big-event dining in a sumptuous, pastoral setting, Whatley Manor’s still a winner.

Over £80
Modern European
Two michelin stars
SquareMeal UK Hot 100
The Kitchin

The Kitchin

78 Commercial Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6LX

“One to remember”, Tom Kitchin’s highly regarded Michelin-starred restaurant on Leith’s reenergised waterfront comes complete with a whisky snug and a temperature-controlled wine cellar – not to mention views of the kitchen from a specially designed window. Inside, there are hints of Scotland’s heritage (tartans, sheepskins, silver birch), while Kitchin’s highly distinctive cooking is still founded on seasonal produce from regional growers, producers and fishermen. ‘From nature to plate’ is the mantra, and that translates into clever, complex ideas “presented with flair and wit”:  a ‘rockpool’ of local seafood, sea vegetables, ginger and Newhaven crab consommé; boned and rolled pig’s head and langoustine tail with crispy pig’s ear salad; roasted rump ‘cap’ of Highland Wagyu beef with heritage carrots, celeriac and red wine sauce. To conclude, consider something delectably seasonal such as set Knockraich yoghurt with orange meringue and sea buckthorn consommé, but don’t ignore Kitchin’s “melt-in-the-mouth delicious” soufflés. The cosy dining room creates just the right mood, value for money is seldom in doubt, and visitors appreciate the chef’s personal touch as he greets everyone individually in the bar.

£50 - £79
Modern European
SquareMeal UK Hot 100
The Vineyard at Stockcross

The Vineyard at Stockcross

Stockcross, Newbury, Berkshire, RG20 8JU

A magnet for wine-lovers, the über-luxurious Vineyard hotel, spa and restaurant is aptly named after owner Sir Peter Michael’s Californian winery. Inside, ‘The Judgement of Paris’ (a 1976 tasting that put American wine on the world stage) is referenced in a vast painting in the lobby’s all-glass wine cave and also on the indulgent ‘Judgement’ menu, where dishes such as tartare of Longhorn beef with sorrel granita, lime and pickled shallots or halibut fillet with Brixham crab, samphire and orange bisque are paired with French and US wines from the 3000-bin list. Otherwise, the carte offers similar creations ranging from roast veal sweetbread with chestnut purée and girolle sauce to textures of plum with candied walnuts and liquorice ice cream. Knowledgeable staff give guidance, and the glamorous dining room provides a fitting backdrop to proceedings. Appealingly priced lunch menus keep prices in check; alternatively, blow the budget on one of the luxurious rooms and some Napa Valley fizz in the terrace-side California Bar.

Over £80
Modern European
The Waterside Inn

The Waterside Inn

Ferry Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 2AT

Its picture-book riverbank location may look and feel as English as The Wind in the Willows, but everything else at the three-Michelin-starred Waterside Inn speaks of top-end French gastronomy with a real sense of occasion – the culinary equivalent of haute couture. It’s all about silky sophistication and Gallic polish here, from the sumptuous furnishings and punctilious professionalism of the “impeccable” staff to the intricacies of the “perfectly executed” cooking. Expect a cavalcade of masterstrokes with that unmistakable Roux thumbprint: teasing amuse-bouches such as venison tartare on potato and whipped goats’ cheese; flaked Devon crab with ginger-scented cucumber jelly and oscietra caviar; fillet of turbot roasted in nut-brown butter with root vegetables, morels and vin jaune sauce; grilled pigeon breasts and crispy leg served with sweet pepper pipérade, potato terrine and ‘devil sauce’. After that, a cleansing granita sets things up for some truly astonishing showpiece desserts – perhaps chocolate cannelé with hazelnut praline and lime. “Everything par excellence”, drools an admirer. The wine list delves deep into the archives of French oenology and prices are scary, yet the sheer joy of dining at this serene stronghold of subtly reinvented haute cuisine is unsurpassed: “it’s hard to find a poor place to eat in Bray, but every visit feels incredibly special”, quips one admirer.

Over £80
French
Three michelin stars
SquareMeal UK Hot 100
Purnell

Purnell's

55 Cornwall Street, Birmingham, West Midlands, B3 2DH

As one of the original stars of Birmingham’s resurgent foodie scene, local boy Glyn Purnell’s flagship restaurant knows exactly how to satisfy its customers by offering a series of light-hearted menus full of kooky but highly convincing ideas. The version entitled ‘Purnell’s journey’ might take you from ‘faux’ Black Canary potatoes with chorizo via monkfish masala with pickled carrots to white chocolate délice with Yorkshire rhubarb and meringue, while ’10 years in the making’ features the likes of ‘1,2,3,4,5... once I caught a fish alive!’ (tuna sashimi, Orkney scallop, black garlic, dashi, seaweed etc) or rump of Wiltshire lamb with smoked aubergine, capers and basil. Diners who fancy some fun can also book for ‘Brummie tapas’ in Purnell’s ‘living room’, where the line-up runs from carpaccio of Herefordshire beef with braised octopus, bresaola, crème fraîche and sweet ‘n’ sour onions to a dessert involving blood orange, white chocolate and dried viola flowers. Well-spaced tables and smart, neutral decor suit the business crowd as well as courting couples, while polished staff rarely fluff their lines. “A brilliant and unusual dining experience”, concludes one fan – and we concur.

£50 - £79
Modern European
Le Champignon Sauvage

Le Champignon Sauvage

24-26 Suffolk Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 2AQ

Since launching Le Champignon Sauvage back in 1987, David and Helen Everitt-Mathias have turned this Cheltenham champion into a destination cherished for its highly personal approach and exquisite, one-Michelin-starred food. Famously, David hasn’t missed a service since arriving here and he continues to apply red-hot technique to top-drawer produce and seasonal pickings. The result is a procession of “truly breath-taking” dishes ranging from pig’s trotter stuffed with nettles, snails and ox tongue (a standout for one reader) to partridge with sourdough gnocchi and turnip or roast cod with confit chicken wings, chicken juices, salsify and woodruff. Game fans might also relish the roasted wood pigeon with black pudding cream, potato and fig terrine, dandelion and burdock salsa, while desserts could feature a luscious duck egg custard cream pointed up with rhubarb and hibiscus.  David’s wife Helen and her team “couldn’t be more friendly or helpful”, and the wine list is a veritable treasure trove of delights. Above all, it’s reckoned to be “phenomenal value for money” when compared to similar places in Michelin’s starry galaxy.

£50 - £79
Modern European
L

L'Enclume

Cavendish Street, Cartmel, Grange-Over-Sands, Cumbria, LA11 6PZ

“An amazing end-to-end experience” chimes a fan of Simon Rogan’s cleverly reconfigured Lakeland smithy – and we’re not about to disagree. L’Enclume looks and feels gorgeous, although there are precious few distractions – apart from views of the garden from the conservatory-style dining room. Rogan’s cooking is all about distilling the essence of flavour, allowing nature, landscape and the seasons to gel harmoniously on the plate. Everything revolves around produce from the chef’s organic farm, combined with foraging trips and an unswerving commitment to Lakeland ingredients. The result is a multi-course tasting menu, devised on the day and delivered in style by “fine-tuned” staff who are at the top of their game. Proceedings begin with a swift procession of tiny mouthfuls: a glistening carmine beetroot leaf; fermented cabbage and Ragstone cheese; flaky crab and carrots, etc. After that, it’s hugely pleasurable avalanche of revelatory flavours, taking in everything from native lobster with broad beans and elderflower to Goosnargh duck with cherries and smoked beetroot. Elsewhere, an “exquisite” bowl of turnip broth with lightly pickled turnips, wild mushrooms and cheese dumpling wowed one visitor, as did the clutch of sweet/savoury conceits – notably a sorrel granita with forest berries and buttermilk. Alternatively, Rogan's chef’s table and development kitchen (Aulis) provides a more intimate culinary journey, while an “exceptional” wine list adds the final gloss. “It’s unlike anything you’ve ever tried”, concludes a determined fan who took two trains and walked for 40 minutes to eat at this two-Michelin-starred holy grail of modern gastronomy.

Over £80
British
Two michelin stars
SquareMeal UK Hot 100
Midsummer House

Midsummer House

Midsummer House, Midsummer Common, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB4 1HA

Daniel Clifford has been busy of late. Not only has the chef masterminded a serious refit of his two-Michelin-starred restaurant by the banks of the river Cam, but he has also reintroduced a conventional carte alongside his now-famous tasting menu. The lovely conservatory-style dining room’s new summery look (floral paintings, patterned chairs etc) chimes perfectly with the views over Midsummer’s gorgeous garden, and the atmosphere is helped along by “perfectly attentive” staff who know how to welcome their guests and foster a genuinely convivial atmosphere. “Precision and all-round excellence” are the watchwords. Meanwhile, Clifford’s kitchen maintains its reputation for “startlingly innovative” food in the modern idiom. Looking at the carte, there are many dishes we’d order in an instant: maple-glazed veal sweetbread with poached turnip, ox tongue, pistachio and maple syrup foam; buttered Cornish cod accompanied by roasted langoustine, cauliflower purée, Malossol caviar and oyster leaf; pork cutlet baked in salt and hay alongside a black pudding dumpling, apple and creamed cabbage (a masterpiece designed for sharing). Among the desserts, who could resist the reimagined tarte Tatin with garlic and bay-leaf foam or the Grand Marnier soufflé with poached kumquats and crème fraîche sorbet? The food is supported by a comprehensive, thoroughbred wine list designed to top off any “special occasion”.  

£50 - £79
British
The Fat Duck

The Fat Duck

1 High Street, Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 2AQ

“Words can’t describe how incredibly entertaining a trip to The Fat Duck is” – so writes a fan who was “made to feel like royalty” at Heston Blumenthal’s three-Michelin-starred wonderland. To say it’s pricey is an understatement: prospective diners currently have to shell out £325 up front for a ‘ticket’ that allows access to the 17-course itinerary. In return, the lucky ones are whisked away on an imagined day out, a holiday trip evoking lots of playful childhood memories with “incredible” staff acting as grown-up guides. It’s the “little touches” and personalised wizardry that really count, in fact the whole show is one gasp-inducing, side-splitting bonanza – although the theatrics are never at the expense of flavour. ‘Rise and shine’ means fun-pack cereal boxes (all crisp grains and jellies) as well as ‘cold… and hot tea’, while a trip to the beach involves the now-famous ‘sound of the sea’ (cured seafood nibbled while listening to the sound of surf through headphones). Later on, a proper three-course ‘dinner’ touts everything from hay-smoked veal sweetbread with baby gem to a boned and crisped chicken’s foot with red-wine mayo, before ‘counting sheep’ sees a meringue resting on a pillow floating above the table thanks to magnetic levitation. And we haven’t even mentioned the mushroom truffle log, the whisky gums or the sweets from the custom-built doll’s house. The verdict? “Five hours of sheer magic”. Yes, eating at the Duck is an immersive, multisensory fantasy, but we’re with readers who dub it a must-do “experience of a lifetime”.

Over £80
British
Three michelin stars
SquareMeal UK Hot 100
Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat

Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

Church Road, Great Milton, Oxfordshire, OX44 7PD

We’ve said it before, but Le Manoir is damn near perfect in every department – a sentiment echoed by legions of fans, who seldom stint on the superlatives when it comes to Raymond Blanc’s fine-tuned take on country-house luxe. This immaculate Oxfordshire mansion is quite simply “faultless”, the “perfect treat” and a dream ticket for out-of-town indulgence with its ever-courteous staff, silkily choreographed service and “exceptionally creative” French-inspired cooking. Blanc’s vision of ‘sustainable harmony’ is buoyed by produce from Le Manoir’s showpiece organic gardens, and the result is a “superb, well-balanced menu full of seasonal flavours and surprises” – from veal sweetbread with spring asparagus, peas and morels to the ever-popular risotto of garden vegetables with tomato essence and chervil cream, salt-baked pigeon with cabbage, wild garlic and bacon or confit Gigha halibut with squid, chorizo and smoked red pepper. This is clear-minded, limpid cooking from a kitchen that knows all about consummate technique. There’s also room for gasp-inducing extras, peerless patisserie (millionaire shortbread with salted caramel ice cream, say) and lovingly ripened cheeses from M. Blanc’s home region (and beyond). Of course, it costs a fortune (particularly if you take a serious dip into the aristocratic wine list), but readers concur that the experience is “worth every penny”.

Over £80
French
Two michelin stars
SquareMeal UK Hot 100
Casamia

Casamia

The General, Bristol, Bristol, BS1 6FU

“I can still remember and describe every dish from the tasting menu” admits one reader who had a “phenomenal experience” at Michelin-starred Casamia – Peter Sanchez-Iglesias’s hugely impressive harbourside restaurant located on the ground floor of the old Bristol General Hospital building. Inside it’s “simple but stylish”, surprisingly warm and inviting, with enthusiastic staff aiding and abetting the busy chefs as they take diners on an immensely flavoursome gastronomic journey inspired by the seasons. One-word descriptions give few clues to the sheer brilliance of the food, but all is revealed once the “delicately complex” creations start arriving on bespoke crockery: ‘salad’ means a super-fresh mix of dark and light green seasonal leaves with charred broccoli, sweet carrot and savoury juices; ‘beetroot’ is a masterly combination of yoghurt sorbet, pickled fennel and beetroot risotto with soft rice and pistachio for texture; ‘rainbow trout’ brings together a superb confit with a bisque, some delicate roe and wonderful “skin crisps” – an outright winner among a clutch of “world-class” dishes. ‘Turbot’ and ‘duck’ are also subjected to mind-bending transformation, while desserts (if that’s the word) could include ‘passion fruit’ – actually a “staggeringly good” three-part riff (granita, jelly, seeds) topped by a tarragon-flavoured custard and little dabs of meringue. With culinary invention “taken to a new level”, a top-class wine list and explanatory table service often provided by the chatty chefs themselves, Casamia is a genuine one-off and a worthy winner of the SquareMeal Award for the Best UK Restaurant, 2018.

£50 - £79
Modern European
One michelin star
SquareMeal UK Hot 100
The Sportsman

The Sportsman

Faversham Road, Seasalter, Kent, CT5 4BP

It’s picked up a sackful of awards in recent years, but The Sportsman “hasn’t been spoiled by its celebrity” – so writes a fan of this unlikely Michelin-starred roadside pub overlooking the bleak Kent marshes. Shabby-chic interiors, mismatched farmhouse furnishings, blackboard menus and real ales set the tone and you’re still expected to order at the bar, but congenial laid-back service adds to the charm of the place and the cooking is never less than “sublime”.  Maverick chef Stephen Harris is a champion of local sourcing and self-sufficiency who bakes bread, cures fish, churns butter and even produces his own sea salt. Yes, it may sound “weird” and homespun, but the food hits the heights without ever seeming overly fussy. We’re fans of the memorable book-in-advance tasting menu (a procession of pitch-perfect seasonal delicacies), but the daily carte also yields pleasures aplenty: poached rock oysters with apple and seaweed; thornback ray with brown butter, cockles and sherry vinegar dressing; smoked maple-cured pork loin with chorizo sauce; braised turbot with mussel and bacon tartare. For afters, there might be a nostalgic combo of jasmine-tea junket with rosehip syrup or a textbook raspberry soufflé with ripple ice cream. A final word on value from one reader: “you may not be getting the luxury and style that many starred restaurants provide, but you aren't paying for it either”.

£50 - £79
British
Gastropub
One michelin star
SquareMeal UK Hot 100