With the bank holiday weekend fast approaching, it’s time to think about whether you want to camp out at your local boozer, or do something a little more adventurous. If you fall into the latter camp, take a look at our pick of restaurants in Brighton, Oxford, Cambridge, Bath and Whitstable, all of which are close enough to the Big Smoke for a day trip.

Words: Eamonn Crowe

Brighton

London’s quirkier, out-there cousin, Brighton definitely doesn’t deliver dull dinners…

Where to go for lunch

64 Degrees Brighton restaurant bar

64 Degrees 

Open for lunch from midday until 3pm, Brighton’s award-winning big hitter serves a daily-changing menu of 16 intensely flavoured small plates, divided equally between meat, fish, vegetables and dessert. Expect the likes of chicken wings with potent kimchi leaves and blue cheese foam, or scallops with cress and lardo. 

Where to go for dinner

SILO, Restaurant, Brighton

Silo 

With a large compost machine right by the entrance, it’s hard to miss the concept behind this restaurant. Taking an ultra-sustainable approach to sourcing and cooking, the menu features exceptionally local and seasonal dishes, such as braised venison ragout with parsnip crisps, kale and fermented ramsons. Even the plates are made from recycled plastic bags, so this is truly eco-friendly eating.

Cambridge

There’s plenty of historical sightseeing to do in C-Town, but when your legs give way pull up a chair at one of the below.

Where to go for lunch

Restaurants bars food drink UK

The Pint Shop 

A retro ‘beer house’ with a modern feel, The Pint Shop appeals to booze lovers with 15 constantly changing local ales, and an 80-strong list of gins. Its two dining rooms serve up the likes of spit-roasted pork belly with braised cabbage, or gin-cured sea trout with buttermilk pancakes. Prices are a little high, but there’s a two-course Sunday lunch deal for just £21.

Where to go for dinner

Restaurants bars food drink UK

Cotto 

If you’re after something extra special, head to this fine diner at the recently refurbished Gonville Hotel. The brief but well-balanced European menu kicks off with starters such as seafood velouté or beef carpaccio, before continuing with mains of crusted halibut or rack of lamb, followed by show-stopping desserts. The only catch? The £70 set menu is mandatory.

Oxford

Oxford makes for a great day trip and, most importantly, it has a surprisingly well-heeled restaurant scene.

Where to go for lunch

SOJO WEB 2016

Sojo

This popular Chinese draws in punters with its focus on lip-smackingly delicious food with strong regional overtones. A dedicated menu of lunch specials covers dim sum, from BBQ pork buns to beef dumplings, while heartier dishes include red chicken curry with noodles, and a mixed seafood bowl with rice – service is great too.

Where to go for dinner

Restaurants bars food drink UK

Cherwell Boathouse 

Perfect for a scenic dinner, Cherwell is a restaurant and bar combo occupying one half of a working boathouse, with wide windows overlooking the river. If you can take your eyes off the punts, pick your way through a short but fresh modern menu with British and French influences, which changes every season. 

Bath

With its famous hot springs and Georgian architecture, Bath is pleasing to the eye and boasts a food scene that’s just as pretty.

Where to go for lunch

Restaurants bars food drink UK

The Bath Priory 

Only a mile from Bath city centre, the Michelin-starred Bath Priory is the epitome of country-house comfort. A lavish collection of classically inclined, seasonal dishes will set you back £35 for three courses at lunch. The menu changes seasonally, but the Easter Sunday lunch menu (four courses for £50) includes cured Lock Duart salmon and roasted lamb loin. 

Where to go for dinner

Restaurant Hywel Jones by Lucknam Park Lucknam Park Colerne Corsham SN14 8AZ Wiltshire Squaremeal Square Meal

Restaurant Hywel Jones at Lucknam Park 

It’s opulence all the way at this stunning Palladian mansion, from the seemingly endless tree-lined driveway to the swathes of ornate regalia within. The restaurant is about to be relaunched (just in time for Easter), adding lavish tasting menus to a Michelin-starred package. Don’t forget that it’s only open for dinner, except for Sunday lunch.

Whitstable

There’s a small selection of great restaurants in this seaside town, so fingers crossed for the weather… 

Where to go for lunch

Restaurants bars food drink UK

JoJo’s 

Housed in a low-slung, whitewashed building overlooking the sea, JoJo’s delivers a unique take on English-style tapas. Consisting of individual items and mezze-style feasts, the selection includes beer-battered calamari with garlic mayo, couscous salad and stuffed mini red peppers.

Where to go for dinner

Restaurants bars food drink UK

Wheelers Oyster bar 

A Whitstable institution, Wheelers was founded in 1856. You can either pop in to the oyster parlour or seafood bar, where you’ll find a raft of fresh dishes fashioned from daily supplies off the local boats – from spice-crusted squid with sweet chilli dressing, to tempura of soft-shell crab with coriander, spring onion and sea salt. This one’s cash-only too, but also BYOB.

If you’d rather go the whole hog and book a UK mini-break, check out this pick of newly opened restaurants with rooms, all great for spring.

This article was published 4 April 2017