TREND: Award-winning afternoon teas
Tea lovers across the globe can rejoice, as the quintessentially British pastime of enjoying afternoon tea now has its own awards: The Afternoon Tea Awards. In its inaugural year, the London-based winners were chosen in line with a variety of categories, and with Afternoon Tea Week just around the corner, there's no better time to enjoy a spot of tea.
The Best Traditional Afternoon Tea was awarded to Claridge's, which has been observing this aspect of Britain's culinary heritage for 150 years. The Best Contemporary Afternoon Tea went to The Mandarin Oriental who have their own ‘Tea Master' and team of pastry chefs. The Best Themed Afternoon Tea was awarded to Sanderson London with their Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter's tea party - a nod towards the anniversary of the much loved children's tale. Last but not least is the Best Family Friendly Afternoon Tea award, won by Grosvenor House, a JW Marriott hotel. The hotel promises its afternoon tea experience in the Park Room is one to remember.
TREND: Distilleries and craft beers
Bundobust, the hugely popular Indian food and craft beer bar in Leeds, will be opening up another branch to convert Manchester to the joys of craft beer and Gujarati vegetarian grub. With 140 covers, the new venture is twice the size of its Leeds counterpart but will still be embracing its craft beer roots, with keg lines and cask pumps, Magic Rock and Kirkstall, plus Cloudwater and other Manchester hop favourites. Dine on simple, authentic Indian cuisine, like okra fries, classic chaat, idli sambhar steamed dumplings and their famous veggie burger Mumbai speciality, vada pav.
Due to open this August inside Pump House No.5, a Victorian building located in Kent's Historic Dockyard Chatham, is The Copper Rivet Distillery. Expect a beautiful space with craft gins and other spirits. www.copperrivetdistillery.com
TREND: Luxury retreats with dining experiences to match
As it celebrates the 600th birthday of its historic Auld Keep, luxury venue Dundas Castle has launched a series of unique dinner packages. Created specifically for groups, the dinners take place within the historic and atmospheric surroundings of the Auld Keep. While the usual requirement is for visitors to take the whole castle on an exclusive use basis, the 600th birthday dinners represent a break from tradition and, for the year of celebrations, are available without the need to hire the venue as a whole. Cost: starting at £150 for up to 20 diners.
Now nearing completion of its extensive refurbishment, the beautiful Grade II listed country house hotel, Palé Hall in North Wales, will be opening in September. The restaurant has been developed in association with Michelin-star chef Michael Caines, and will offer exquisite food with the finest fresh, local seasonal produce. www.palehall.co.uk
Grade II listed Georgian mansion Lympstone Manor in Devon, also acquired by Michael Caines, is set to open in February 2017 following an exciting transformation into a luxury country house hotel, complete with 60-cover fine dining restaurant.
New to Soho is the recently-opened Poppie's Fish & Chips, which serves fresh fish, chunky hand-cut chips and comforting mushy peas. Practically an institution in itself, with shops in Camden and Spitalfields, the Soho branch will embrace the charms of its sister restaurants with live music and a stage. Excitingly, the Soho shop will be housed on the old site of 2i's Coffee Bar, widely known as the birthplace of Rock 'n' Roll. www.poppiesfishandchips.co.uk
Gracing Holborn this summer with a light-hearted take on the Hong Kong café subculture is Cha Chaan Teng. Expect an eclectic range of Chinese comfort food infused with western influences from renowned TV chef and creator of School of Wok, Jeremy Pang. Enjoy Cha Chaan Teng staples such as deep-fried peanut butter French toast, and classic crusty rolls with spam, fried quail egg or soy pork chop. www.chachaantenguk.co.uk
Mayfair restaurant Tokimeitē has launched its unique Japanese Robata-style brunch this month. The brunch offers diners an authentic, yet contemporary take on Japanese dining, but in a relaxed and informal setting. Take a break from the usual roast dinner, and enjoy this Sunday-only brunch menu of slow-grilled food designed for sharing. www.tokimeite.com
Lovers of New York-inspired cuisine will rejoice at the news of a third Dirty Bones site opening this summer in Shoreditch. Housed in an iconic heritage building, the new Dirty Bones will served comfort food dishes and cocktails, and will be the first Dirty Bones to house an all-day dining menu. Enjoy a range of culinary offerings, from the breakfast menu exclusive to Shoreditch, to evening cocktails with live bands and DJ nights. www.dirty-bones.com/food
Love boutique hotels? Love Michelin-starred chefs? Then we have the dining experience for you. Celebrated chef Shaun Rankin has joined forces with Flemings Mayfair to bring you the 85-cover restaurant Ormer Mayfair, due to open on 14 September after a £14 million refurbishment. Expect an Art Deco-inspired space with a 1930s glamour, serving light and refreshing dishes, decadent deserts and specially selected wines. The restaurant will offer a relaxed environment surrounded by affordable luxury in the heart of London's Mayfair. www.flemings-mayfair.co.uk
Making its way across the pond to Milton Keynes is Smashburger, a casual restaurant with big ambitions to revolutionise the fast-food burger scene. Their secret is in the 'smash', where a hand-crafted meatball is smashed into a hot buttered grill, searing in all the juices and flavour. Try it with garlic and rosemary Smash fries. www.smashburger.co.uk
Taking inspiration from the beautiful city of Venice, the Salt Yard Group will be opening their first all-day restaurant in St James's Market, Veneta. Seating 110 covers in areas that combine classic bar-counter seating, banqueting booths and intimate tables, expect classic Venetian dishes, a classic raw bar, and both indulgent and healthy breakfasts.
Opening its doors this summer is Samarkand, a restaurant which claims to be one of the first to celebrate Uzbekistan's cuisine. Located in Fitzrovia, the restaurant will serve a modern take on Uzbeck dishes for lunch and dinner seven days a week. The restaurant will feature a grand entrance and staircase that will lead down to a 130-cover chandelier-laden dining room.
The Royal Botanic Gardens will see their first all-day table service restaurant opening this August. The Botanical will overlook the Palm House Conservatory and pond, and will feature a bar, terrace, and private dining room. The Botanical will be the fifth dining venue at Kew, and will hope to grow the concept of 'Why Plants Matter' through the dishes they serve. www.kew.org
The Shilling Brewing Co. is the first to bring the brewpub experience in Glasgow, a city with a centuries-old heritage of brewing pioneers. The company opened The Shilling in June, a space where everyone can discover and appreciate beer, straight from the source. In fact, the fermentation tanks are located in the basement, where visitors can view the process of brewing through a glass wall. www.shillingbrewingcompany.co.uk
After the success of their Glasgow-Finnieston and Edinburgh branches, the three owners of Lebowskis decided to open a new venue in Glasgow's Southside with a more grown up, contemporary look this June. The chain is mainly famous for its legendary burgers but The Lebowskis South is now also offering a range of Scottish bar specialties, small dishes, or even brunch at the weekend.
A bespoke and stylish bar, Cannonball Restaurant & Bar, opened this June at Cannonball House in partnership with Glengoyne. With stunning views down the Royal Mile, it's the perfect space for visitors to enjoy a pre or post-dinner drink while they soak up the atmosphere in one of Edinburgh's most iconic locations. www.contini.com/cannonball
Enjoy a delicious picnic in the heart of Edinburgh in The Glasshouse Hotel - Rooftop Garden Picnic which opened this month. Escape the hustle and bustle, relax and take in the breath-taking views of Calton Hill. Upon arrival, guests will be presented with a quaint picnic rug and basket full of fresh Scottish produce and accompanied with the choice of non-alcoholic or alcoholic drinks.
Following the success of the Grapevine restaurant which launched in Selkirk last year, the Grapevine Galashiels opened in the town's Douglas Bridge this month. Expect innovative menus and offerings in this central location close to the Borders Railway.
Following the success of the Chop House which opened in Leith in September 2015, a second bar and butchery is set to open this July at The Arches on East Market Street in Edinburgh's Old Town. As well as the vibrant restaurant, with a menu focused on British beef, the new Chop House will boast an impressive bar serving craft beers and bespoke seasonal cocktails.
Revolucion de Cuba, a stunning two-floor rum bar complete with outdoor terrace, has recently opened on Liverpool's Albert Dock. Offering an exciting cocktail menu and special Catina Menu with the finest Cuban food, this new spot promises to take you straight to the heart of Cuban life. Enjoy live music, the Havana Bar, or one of their many fine rums. www.revoluciondecuba.com/bar/liverpool
The Shankly Hotel has released plans for its rooftop bar and restaurant, Eden Bar, showcasing a luxury rooftop garden with uninterrupted views of Liverpool. Owned by Signature Living, the development is being completed with the Shankly family, and will include extravagant features such as a 100ft slide and hotel room doors that interact with smartphones. The terrace will house two 175-seat restaurants.
The northern powerhouse of 'molecular mixology', The Alchemist, will be opening its newest cocktail bar on Brunswick Street, in Noble House. With venues already in Manchester and Leeds, it will be adding Liverpool to the collection this month. The cocktail bar and restaurant prides itself on mixology, alchemy and craftsmanship and promises a theatrical experience housed within its menus. www.thealchemist.uk.com
Enjoy a taste of Chinese history with the bestselling spirit in Europe, Baijiu. Made from grain and generally between 40%-60% in alcohol by volume, Baijiu can now be enjoyed at the first ever dedicated bar in Europe, FU Baijiu. Ease yourself in with an infusion or cocktail with herbs and fruits, or go straight in for a shot, with the aftertaste lingering for a whole ten seconds. Most excitingly, there are different Baijius to try with different tasting notes; be sure to have some of the slow roasted pork belly in sticky black bean sauce, or crab and crayfish samosas, to accompany your tasting experience. www.fubaijiu.com
Enjoy the quintessentially British past time of taking tea at the Jam Restaurant & Tea Bar, where guests can enjoy more than 25 different styles of tea. Located on Sir Thomas Street, the speciality tea shop, cocktail bar, and eatery serves afternoon tea, homemade cakes and pastries, brunch and casual dining from 18.00pm onwards, and of course cocktails. www.jamrestaurants.co.uk
Beat Street will take up permanent residency at the Great Northern Warehouse after transforming the disused space into a unique venue. The development will be home to seven street food traders and three bars, with seating for 150 diners on a split-level, heated all-weather terrace with a rooftop sun deck and outdoor grill. www.beatstreetmcr.co.uk
Squid Ink, an independent Asian fusion restaurant, has just opened in the up and coming Ancoats area. You can expect an airy restaurant where you can comfortably dine on the ever-changing creative menu. www.squidinkmcr.com
Soon to grace the Palace Hotel is independently owned restaurant Volta at the Refuge. Its previously globe-trotting DJ owners have developed the 10,000 sq. foot space to open in September. The Victorian-tinged hall of tiled columns, glass atriums and big armchairs will feature a 139-cover restaurant for an all-day drinking and dining experience, complete with a leafy ‘Winter Garden'.
Football fans rejoice! The newly opened Spanish restaurant Tapeo and Wine on Deansgate is backed by Manchester United player Juan Mata. Try plates like shoulder of milk-fed lamb, lobster rice and thick seafood broth. Menus will change seasonally and customers can also expect a tempting array of homemade desserts. www.facebook.com/TapeoandWine
Centred on the grand Victorian estate near Keswick where Beatrix Potter wrote some of her most famous children's books is the Lingholm Kitchen & Walled Garden. The new café was built using re-claimed Lakeland stone. Expect a range of quality locally sourced foods, home baked breads, caked and pastries, real barista coffee and an extensive range of teas. www.thelingholmestate.co.uk/the-lingholm-kitchen-walled-garden
The Cocoa Bean Hawkshead: Children's Chocolate Workshop & Chocolate Store is a new unique and interactive experience that offers children the chance to make delicious chocolate creations, which they are able to take home - along with their own apron and hair net! Adults can browse the factory shop, full of goodies, gifts, and over 100 varieties of chocolates. www.thecocoabeancompany.com
After the success of The Flying Pig in Bowness-on-Winderemere, which opened in December 2015, High Spirits Leisure Group have this month opened The Arts Bar - also in Bowness and Fodder in Windermere. The Arts Bar celebrates a signature gin menu ‘Annie's List' created by Mixologist Hank Angelo Hughes Lumby and a playful food menu with dishes such as a Falafel burger named "The Lazy Farmer". www.the-arts-bar.co.uk
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