Across the Zones: The UK’s Culinary Hotspots
We’ve worked our way from the premium restaurant property locations of Zone 1 all the way out to the outstanding restaurant villages on the capital’s outskirts.
To catch up, choose from:
Now we’re leaving London behind to explore the culinary hotspots across the rest of the UK, from big metropolitan centres to small towns with big names.
Ludlow boasts a very special culinary climate. Here, quality of food triumphs value, service and strong branding as the most important factor ensuring survival and success.
That isn’t to say that value and great service aren’t to be found on the banks of the Teme River: Ludlow’s Green Café has won a Bib Gourmand. That this town of 10, 000 has three traditional family butchers, one Michelin starred and one formerly starred restaurant in its centre speaks volumes of its sophisticated relationship with food.
That Michelin restaurant is Mr Underhill’s. This restaurant is housed next to the courtyard of a charming little guesthouse typical of the town’s Tudor building style. The restaurant owns the adjoining rooms in an arrangement they call “restaurant with rooms” as opposed to a hotel.
The menu utilises the local ingredients that are much celebrated every year at the Ludlow Food Festival. Shropshire lamb, beef and cheddar is harnessed in a traditional menu perfected by Chef Chris Bradley. Impressively, Chris has never worked in another kitchen, earning his star through his own work and research.
Away from the star of the town, many operators jostle to attract a market hungry for quality food. In Fishmore Hall, Forelles is a fine French restaurant which offers a popular and challenging nine course tasting menu featuring Pig head croquette with smoked eel.
Aragon’s is the town’s favourite breakfast/lunch option, but even in this popular weekend café, the food is elevated above normal expectation as stone ovens are filled with organic flour pizzas and sausages with festival award-winning pork.
Oldham Street, Manchester
Oldham Street is the central area of Manchester’s semi-recently redeveloped Northern Quarter. Prior to a period of social decline caused by the chain-brand castle of the Arndale Centre, it was the city’s main shopping street.
Now the area caters to customers looking for an alternative town-centre experience. Among vintage shops and record stores are independent restaurant operators looking to sell to the young, trend-sensitive crowd that is drawn to the area. This demographic means fast-casual restaurants are the majority.
‘Booze and Burger’ joint Almost Famous is among the most successful in the area, with three more locations in the North. It utilises a colourful, graphic brand to access the student/creative market. Burgers start at £8, the alcohol is reasonably priced and weekends see a late closing time – all aimed at attracting millennial casual diners.
Northern Soul Grilled Cheese runs a successful trade selling an American snack-time classic, the grilled cheese sandwich. They elevate this lowly dish through innovative additions and fillings. The food is sold out of a cheap-looking chipboard counter which, when combined with food that is typically seen as a cheap, quick thing to make, gives rise to a tongue in cheek atmosphere that the Oldham Street market loves.
Newcastle has a diverse mix of students, professionals and older restaurant goers, leading to a perfect storm of dining where, from fast food, through casual to formal evening dining, new and exciting restaurants are appearing thick and fast.
Unlike Manchester’s Northern Quarter, in the middle of one of Newcastle’s hippest streets, High Bridge, fast-casual has been trumped by a semi-formal brasserie style eatery, Pleased to Meet You.
The name of this bar/restaurant may not be the first to come to the lips of its neighbours – vintage and second-hand clothes shops counting on low rents to continue – but any fan of good food will welcome their French inspired menu at around £25 per head.
Down by the Quayside, Red House capitalise on their historic location with a traditional menu of pies, reinforced by outstanding local ales and an excellent view of the Tyne. They champion a four-step menu, where guests choose from four lists of pie, mash, pease and liquor to construct their favourite plate. The wooden panelling is as authentic as their delicious pease pudding.
A little further along the Tyne, the House of Tides, headed up by BBC favourite Kenny Atkinson, has won its first Michelin Star – the only one in the whole North East. Regardless of the importance of Michelin Stars, the award’s reputation in a comparative Michelin desert has been enough to see the restaurant fully booked for weeks as locals scramble for a table.
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