How to celebrate Scottish Whisky month in May

Produced in Scotland for centuries, whisky is widely celebrated as the country’s national drink. It’s distinct and varied flavours are heavily influenced by the regions in which it is made, a fact that is celebrated as part of national whisky month in May.

Named uisge beatha in Gaelic, which translates to ‘water of life’, whisky is produced at more than 120 distilleries across Scotland, with each producing unique and stimulating tastes. These distilleries are divided up into 5 main whisky producing regions – Speyside, Islay, Campbeltown, Highland and Lowland – and a visit to any one of these represents a memorable way of celebrating Scottish whisky month in style. Alternatively, there are numerous whisky-themed events and festivals that can tickle the taste buds.

The Distilleries

The source of water or even the presence of peat in a region has a huge influence on the taste of the whisky produced. Each of the 5 whisky producing regions has numerous distilleries to explore – and to sample a dram – while also taking in the spectacular highlights of Scotland’s countryside.

  1. Speyside

Home to 50 distilleries – the most of any of the 5 regions – Speyside is renowned for its fine malt whiskies. As the driest and warmest part of Scotland, located between the Highlands in the west, the farmlands of Aberdeenshire to the east and the beauty of the Cairngorms National Park to the north. Conditions are perfect for growing barley, while the mountain water helps to produce some of the best-loved malt whiskies in existence. To celebrate Scottish Whisky month, don’t miss the world famous Malt Whisky Trail which includes 7 working distilleries, Britain’s only cooperage – the Speyside Cooperage – and the Dallas Dhu historic distillery.

  1. Islay

A small island in the Inner Hebrides, just off Scotland’s west coast, Islay has 9 distilleries that produce delightful single malt Scotch whisky. It’s also home to one of the country’s oldest distilleries, as Bowmore can trace its roots back to 1779. As the island is covered in peat, it is harvested and used in the distilling process to create whiskies with characteristic peaty, oily and smoky flavours.

  1. Lowland

Expect lighter and floral tones of whisky in the Lowland region that reflect the rolling countryside landscapes of southern Scotland. The most accessible of the whisky regions given its travel routes to both Edinburgh and Glasgow, it is also home to a number of newer distilleries, with the development of more in the pipeline.

  1. Campbeltown

Campbeltown might be Scotland’s smallest whisky producing region, but such is the quality of the single malts created at its 3 distilleries that it is considered a region in its own right. Aided by the region’s coastal location – the spectacular and remote Kintyre Peninsula in west Argyll – the Springbank, Glengyle and Glen Scotia distilleries all produce distinct flavours that have garnered a worldwide following.

  1. Highlands

Covering a vast expanse of Scotland, the Highlands whisky region houses 47 distilleries, the oldest and most famous of which is Glenturret – home to the Famous Grouse Experience. Anticipate a diverse range of flavours across this region that reflect the rugged coastlines, changing landscapes, mountainous regions and variable weather conditions

May whisky festivals

On top of a visit to a distillery during Scottish whisky month, why not visit one of the many whisky festivals that take place throughout May? World Whisky Day is also on 18 May, and there’ll be an abundance of whisky-themed events taking place at Scotland’s many distilleries, as well as in bars and restaurants.

Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival

Discover the rich history of whisky in Speyside during the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, packed full of behind-the-scenes distillery tours, sensory experiences, whisky-themed walks, music events and an array of arts and crafts. Embark on a whisky tour by train or 4x4, enjoy delightful food and whisky pairings, and explore many of the region’s most iconic distilleries.

When? 1-6 May

Stirling Whisky Festival

Welcoming distillers from all over Scotland to the Stirling Highland Hotel, the Stirling Whisky Festival returns for its 8th year in 2019. Whisky masterclasses come with certain tickets, enabling visitors to try drams of special and rare malts. An exclusive tasting evening at the Stirling Distillery on Friday 10 May will see the Scotch Malt Whisky Society showcase 6 of their unique single malts, with a different food plate for each to provide the perfect accompaniment.

When? 10-12 May

Highland Whisky Festival

Taste some incredible malt whisky from across the Highland region, as the Highland Whisky Festival showcases 8 of the best distilleries from along the North Coast 500 route. As well as exclusive tastings and tours, a range of events will also take place at the Balblair, Glenmorangie, Old Pulteney, Clynelish, The Dalmore, Wolfburn, Tomatin and The Singleton of Glen Ord distilleries.

When? 10-17 May

Edinburgh Whisky Stramash

Hosting numerous whisky experiences in the historic Surgeon’s Hall on Edinburgh’s Nicholson Street, the Edinburgh Whisky Stramash looks to showcase whisky from across Scotland and the rest of the world. Expect quirky tasting sessions and circa 200 whiskies from around the globe!

When? 18-19 May

Feis Ile, The Islay Festival of Music and Malt

Discover the island of Islay’s peaty flavours and take in its unique culture as part of Feis Ile, The Islay Festival of Music and Malt. With a programme packed with Gaelic and traditional music, ceilidhs and events relating to golf, history and natural heritage, among others, the festival is a chance to visit the island’s distilleries while uncovering its distinctive character.

When? 24 May – 1 June

TASTE – February 2019

London – recently opened

 

London’s thriving restaurant scene has shown no signs of slowing in the early part of 2019, as numerous new eateries are now serving up an array of exciting dishes and experiences.

 

Acclaimed Turkish chef Civan Er has brought the taste of his famed Istanbul restaurant Yeni Lokanta to Soho with the opening of Yeni. A menu packed with innovative vegetable dishes, inventive takes on street food and sophisticated fish and meat plates takes inspiration from Istanbul’s location as a meeting point between Europe and Asia.

 

Sushi Daily has built on the success of its global food kiosks by opening its own permanent site on New Oxford Street, as founder Kelly Choi joins forces with sushi expert Silla Bjerrum. Serving an array of fresh, handmade sushi, breakfast dishes and hot options, visitors can expect classic sushi and authentic Japanese dishes, including yakisoba, katsu curry and udon soup, as well as porridge options to start the day.

 

France’s oldest luxury tea emporium Mariage Frères has now opened its doors in a beautiful Georgian five-storey townhouse on Covent Garden’s King Street. Choose from the world’s largest collection of tea, with 1,000 aromatic varieties from 36 tea producing countries, all stored in an apothecary-style wall stretched out over 1,200 square metres. The first floor Salon De Thé is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, with Mariage Frères’ Cuisine au Thé concept using tea as a delicate ingredient, flavouring or spice in every dish on the menu.

 

The pair behind Camden Market’s popular vegan bakery, Cupcakes and Shhht, have launched We Are Vegan Everything (WAVE) in the heart of Hackney. Expect vegan ‘freakshakes’, juice shots, superfood lattes and vegan gluten and sugar free cakes, brownies and croissants, as well as a brunch menu featuring vegan fried eggs and vegan salmon and cream cheese.

 

London – opening soon

 

Opening in February, Centre Point’s flagship restaurant VIVI will offer a return to the Swinging Sixties, with a bold seasonal menu and extravagant décor right in the centre of the capital’s theatre district. Divided into four key spaces, including The Dining Room, The Bar, The Gallery and the Liquid Lounge, the restaurant will serve everything from simple breakfasts through to evening dining.

 

X-upper is set to open at 88 Upper Street, Islington in early March, serving a delectable array of gourmet sausages, with carefully curated recipes by a handful of top London chefs. Alongside six core sausages, they’ll also be daily specials for visitors to get their teeth into.

 

Craft pasta restaurant Emilia’s in St Katherine Docks is all set to open a second offering in the heart of Aldgate, offering 7 carefully created pasta dishes and a range of exciting specials. Get ready for delicious twists on original dishes, a small wine list packed with Italian vintages and a unique Italian craft beer selection, set against a vibrant terracotta backdrop.

 

As part of a dramatic transformation, former late-night bar Gigalum in Clapham South is being turned into The Perky Nel, a neighbourhood pub serving delightful British food from local suppliers and producers. The offering, from independent pub group livelihood, will also host live sport screenings and other entertainment when it opens in February.

 

Although not strictly a new opening, Vaughn’s Cookery School in Devizes, Wiltshire, and chef Peter Vaughn, will mark St David’s Day on 1 March with a Chef’s Table Supper Club. Alongside a three-course meal with plenty of Welsh influences, Vaughn will share his experiences while putting unique twists on the food served.

 

Food will also be on the agenda at the Victoria and Albert Museum from mid-May, as a major exhibition will take visitors on a multi-sensory journey through the food cycle. Food: Bigger than the plate will explore the ways that innovative individuals and communities grow, distribute and experience food, with highlights including cheese made from human bacteria and an Urban Mushroom Farm installation.

 

Just opened – Bristol

 

Having tasted success in Cheltenham and Oxford, independent micro-chain Coconut Tree launched in two Bristol locations in late 2018, bringing affordable Sri Lankan street food to Gloucester Road and Clifton. Sample fiery cocktails, tropical tapas and egg hoppers, alongside plenty of other culinary delights.

 

Opening soon – Birmingham

 

Chef Adam Stokes, the Michelin-starred owner of Adam’s restaurant in Birmingham, will open his second venture in the city in February, specialising in fish and seafood. Crab toast, teriyaki salmon and fish and chips will be on the menu at The Oyster Club on Temple Street, alongside a dedicated oyster bar and a range of exciting meat and vegetarian dishes.

 

The huge basement boiler room of the Grand Hotel will soon welcome Tattu, offering contemporary Chinese cuisine that’s carefully presented and packed full of incredible flavours. The third branch from owner pair Adam and Drew Jones will serve up a delightful array of signature dishes and new additions to the menu, including chilli and sesame roasted scallops served with Chinese sausage.

48 hours in… Glasgow

Scotland's largest city, Glasgow is renowned for its vibrant arts, music and culture scene, rich architectural heritage and a wealth of friendly locals .

The city has the greatest concentration of creative industries in Britain outside London. Its architectural assets include the Victorian splendour of Glasgow City Chambers, the neo-classical surroundings of the Gallery of Modern Art, and the ultra-modern spikes of Zaha Hadid's Riverside Transport Museum. And with more than 1,500 shops, this fashionable city is recognised as Britain's second largest retail centre.

UNESCO City of Music, Glasgow stages an average of 130 music events in the city every week. It's also considered a place to discover new talent: bands hailing from, or starting their careers here include famous names like Franz Ferdinand, the Fratellis, Belle & Sebastian, Snow Patrol, Travis, Texas and Paolo Nutini.

TIME TO CHECK IN:

The four-star Grand Central Hotel has been open since 1879; this Queen Anne style landmark has 230 rooms and suites, and former guests include politicians and Hollywood stars.

Situated on the Banks of the River Clyde next to The SSE Hydro, the Radisson Red Hotel opened its doors in 2018 and is home to 174 studio rooms. The OUIBar + KTCHEN and rooftop RED Sky Bar, with its craft beers and classy cocktails, mean your food and drink needs are well covered too.

Scotland’s largest bedroomed hotel with 374 rooms, Motel One Glasgow provides a stylish budget option with an interior that takes inspiration from its location next to Glasgow Central Station. The hotel’s signature One Lounge – a breakfast café, bar and living area rolled into one – is themed around the golden age of train travel in Scotland. 

Alternatively, the new Ibis Styles Glasgow Centre West is another that mixes affordability with style across its 137 rooms. The hotel recognises Glasgow’s influence on the global music scene, so keep an eye out for the names of iconic bands and venues that are splashed across the décor.

DAY ONE:

11.00 Take in the Gallery of Modern Art

Discover an incredible collection of contemporary art right in the centre of Glasgow at the Gallery of Modern Art. Thought-provoking displays and temporary exhibitions pack the gallery, and building tours take place at weekends that can introduce the history of the building and the exhibitions within it. 

12:15 Follow in the footsteps of great pioneers

The historic campus of the University of Glasgow is another edifying tourist attraction. Take a self-guided tour of Britain's fourth oldest university, and follow in the footsteps of renowned visionaries such as the pioneer of television John Logie Baird. Not to be missed are the Cloisters - these impressive archways have featured in several films, including OutlanderOutlaw King and Cloud Atlas.

13:30 Enjoy lunch along a cobbled backstreet

A cobbled backstreet close to the university, Ashton Lane is a treasure trove of bohemian bars and restaurants. With its rustic chic interior and a beer garden for al fresco drinking and dining, Belgian-style bar and restaurant Brel is a popular choice. Or try renowned Glasgow bar and eatery the Ubiquitous Chip.

14:30 Experience Glasgow's bohemian side

The neighbourhood that includes the University of Glasgow and Ashton Lane is known as Glasgow's West End. This bohemian quarter of ornate sandstone tenements and cobbled streets is well worth exploring. A fantastic range of vintage and design stores, cafés, bars and specialist delicatessens can be found here. It's also home to the picturesque Botanic Gardens and Kelvingrove Park, as well as Charles Rennie Mackintosh's distinctive and stylish Mackintosh House.

15:30 Explore Scottish and world history

Also located within Glasgow's West End is Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Built in 1901, this grand red sandstone building displays one of Europe's greatest and most eclectic art collections, and is one of Scotland's most popular free-to-enter visitor attractions. Highlights include Salvador Dali's iconic painting Christ Of St John Of The Cross, plus Scottish history and archaeology, dinosaurs, Ancient Egypt, arms and armour, and Dutch Old Masters. Several stunning exhibitions run throughout the year, while visitors can take the Natural History Trail to explore Scotland’s natural world.

19:30 Dine in a cool up-and-coming quarter

Once an industrial area frequented by dockworkers, Finnieston is now a neighbourhood with a cool new vibe. Anchored by The SSE Hydro arena, initially built for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and now a renowned live entertainment venue, the area has witnessed a change in fortune. Known as the city's foodie quarter, a stretch of Argyle Street is now lined with bars and eclectic restaurants, with top picks including industrial eatery The Gannet, tapas-style Indian food at Mother India's Café, or fish and shellfish at Crabshakk

21:30 Sip a cocktail or a dram of whisky

After-dinner options along Argyle Street range from cocktails at Kelvingrove Café to a dram of Scottish whisky and traditional live music at The Ben Nevis.

DAY TWO:

9:30 Visit a champion transport museum

Voted 2013 European Museum of the Year, the spiky Zaha Hadid-designed Riverside Museum is Scotland's museum of transport. Its collection includes a historic Tall Ship, an icon of Glasgow's shipbuilding heritage now moored at Riverside, while inside the vast free-flowing gallery space are trams, trolley buses, vintage cars, bicycles and motorbikes - each object telling a unique story. Discover the story of Glasgow’s telegram messengers throughout 2019 and keep an eye out for numerous one and two-day specialist exhibitions that are held across the year.

11:00 Take a Scottish brunch break

Enjoy a delicious Scottish brunch at Cup, Glasgow's award-winning tea rooms. The tiled Victorian interior of Cup Tea Lounge is truly stunning. There's also Cup Tea Room in Glasgow's West End, and the Cup Tea Garden in stylish Merchant City. Cup's big breakfast includes Scottish cured bacon, sausages and homemade beans. Other choices include Eggs Benedict, Florentine, Royal or Stornoway - the latter two coming with either Scottish smoked salmon or Stornoway Black Pudding. Cup is also a great choice for afternoon tea.

12:00 Shop till you drop in Britain's second largest retail centre

With more than 1,500 shops, Glasgow is recognised as Britain's second largest retail centre, providing one of the best shopping experiences outside London. Glasgow's Style Mile is the city's central shopping district, with all the big high street brands. Tucked away behind the city centre is the Merchant City, one of Glasgow's oldest quarters and an area of huge architectural interest. Dating back to the 1750s, it was home to the warehouses of wealthy merchants. Those old warehouses have since become quirky designer boutiques, bars, restaurants and stylish loft apartments.

14:30 Head out of the city to a grand old country house

In easy reach of Glasgow city centre, Pollok House is a grand country property built in 1752. Now part of the National Trust for Scotland, its lavish family rooms are packed full of period furniture and fine art, while downstairs are vast servants' quarters. Afterwards, hire a bike to explore the surrounding Pollok Country Park - look out for the Highland Cattle and Clydesdale Horses.

19:30 Taste a crisp apple ale and hearty Scottish fare

Britain's first experiential craft brewery, Drygate produce a range of ales and IPAs, and is home to 26 rotating taps and a carefully curated bottle selection. Their Glasgow brewhouse is also home to Drygate's Craft Beer Bar & Kitchen serving seasonal Scottish produce, burgers and charcuterie-grazing boards.

22:00 Listen out for the next big thing in the City of Music

Glasgow is designated UNESCO City of Music thanks to its thriving music scene and multitude of live music venues. King Tut's Wah Wah Hut is consistently named Britain's best small live music venue, or there's the legendary Barrowland Ballroom in the east end of Glasgow, plus Saint Luke's, an exciting music and arts venue in a restored former parish church.

HOW TO GET HERE:

Glasgow is in Scotland, five hours by train north of London, one hour from Edinburgh. Glasgow International Airport is just shy of 9-miles from Glasgow city centre with a bus connection taking 15 minutes.

Michelin Guide 2019 – ten winning British restaurants you have to eat at

The MICHELIN Guide has spoken; Britain & Ireland welcomed three new two-star restaurants and 21 new one-star establishments to the 2019 guide, bringing the destination’s total to an incredible 155 one-Michelin star restaurants, 20 two-star, five one-star and 143 Bib Gourmands. We take a look at ten of the first-time winners in their categories, demonstrating how Britain continues to be a must-visit gastronomic destination thanks to its ever-evolving culinary scene.

Two Stars

Core by Clare Smyth, London

As Chef Patron at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Clare Smyth was the first and only female chef to run a three-star Michelin restaurant in Britain; and now, with her debut restaurant Core gaining a coveted two stars it may not be long before she’s doing the same with her own restaurant. It might be located in the well-heeled London neighbourhood of Notting Hill but Core veers away from being showy or stuffy and is instead informal and welcoming. The key focus is on gourmet meals created from sustainable ingredients from UK producers and farmers, and include dishes ranging from Sharpham Park spelt, morels, asparagus and wild garlic to duck and nectarine with thyme, honey and Timut pepper.

Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs, London

Tucked away at the back of Bubbledogs – a restaurant where hot dogs are paired with Champagne – in London’s elegant Fitzrovia is a discrete entrance that will lead you into Kitchen Table, which has been awarded two Michelin stars. And with just 20 seats there’s plenty of interaction between customers and chefs, led by Head Chef James Knappett, who will talk through and serve a daily changing menu created from sourced and foraged British ingredients. Its 12-course tasting menu is influenced by Knappett’s previous roles at noma and Per Se but remains true to British traditions and flavours. Sandia Chang, James’ wife, is general manager and sommelier, selecting a wine list with more than 100 choices, including wines made by small producers.

Mark Birchall’s Moor Hall, Lancashire, north-west England

When Lancashire born-and-bred Mark Birchall became Chef Patron at Moor Hall, a luxury restaurant with rooms in the beautiful Lancashire countryside (only 30 minutes from Liverpool), he brought with him his vast experience gained as Executive Chef of the two-Michelin star L’Enclume in Cumbria, and from his role at three-Michelin star El Celler de Can Roca in Girona. Home-grown ingredients and produce inspired by the countryside surroundings are an important focus for Mark, who creates menus of modern British cuisine. Sample menus feature creative dishes such as turnip and crab with anise hyssop and sunflower seeds, and Westmorland chicken, hen of the woods, with candisa cabbage in ham fat.

One Star

Brat, London

Proving the Shoreditch scene is still attracting the cool chefs, Brat was opened earlier this year by ex-Kitty Fisher’s chef Tomos Parry, who has brought a bold blend of Welsh and Basque cuisine to east London. So how does that translate onto a menu? Gorgeous dishes such as Herdwick lamb, pork and laverbread salami, wild rabbit with blood sausage and beans, and whole turbots.

Roganic, London

What first opened as a two-year pop-up in Marylebone is now a firm fixture in London’s culinary scene. Owned by top British chef Simon Rogan, it brings elements of L’Enclume – Rogan’s two Michelin-star restaurant in the Lake District – to the capital and is run alongside its development kitchen and eight-seat chef’s table Aulis London. Expect to find the best produce from the UK used in its dishes – including from Rogan’s ‘Our Farm’ in the Lake District – that feature on its long and short tasting menus. The dishes may list just a few ingredients (such as ‘almond, scallop, apple’ or ‘tomato, seatrout, farm offerings’) but you know they will be of the highest quality and be part of something spectacular. (Simon Rogan’s Rogan & Co in Cumbria was also awarded a Michelin star in this year’s guide.)

Chris Simpson’s Gidleigh Park, Devon, south-west England

When Chris Simpson joined luxury country house hotel Gidleigh Park at the start of the year, he came with an outstanding CV, having worked as as Head Chef at Restaurant Nathan Outlaw in Cornwall for seven years, which has held two Michelin stars since 2011. Taking a modern approach to classical cooking, Chris is a keen advocate of using local ingredients to create his inspirational dishes, which are refined, yet simple. As well as à la carte, there are two seven-course tasting menus (one of which is vegetarian), that feature beautiful dishes such as Cornish turbot with leeks, purple sprouting broccoli and caviar hollandaise.

Olive Tree, Bath, south-west England

Located below the gorgeous boutique Queensberry Hotel in the historic city of Bath, The Olive Tree is headed up by Chris Cleghorn who, during his career, has worked under the guidance of three Michelin-star chefs, including Heston Blumenthal. Now, at The Olive Tree (which also has three AA rosettes for culinary excellence), he delivers a regularly changing menu created from local produce, menus that feature either five or seven dishes, known as The Five or The Seven, as well as the Vegetarian Seven, the Vegan Seven and the Dairy Free Seven.

Salt, Stratford-upon-Avon, west England

Run by Paul Foster and his wife Rhiain, Salt was created after they launched a crowdfunding campaign for Paul to fulfil his dream of having his own restaurant. They’re now the proud owners of fine-dining establishment Salt, which focuses on using top-quality, seasonal produce. Come Friday or Saturday evening to experience either its creative five- or eight-course tasting menu, while the à la carte during the week is equally innovative. Choose from starters such as St Austell mussels with confit tomato, tomato juice, basil, samphire, mains such as roast partridge with salt-baked celeriac, black shallot pureé and grelots and desserts such as quince and rose geranium custard tart with a celery sorbet.

Fordwich Arms, Canterbury, Kent, south-east England

One of the few pubs to have gained a Michelin star this year, the Fordwich Arms is located in Fordwich, Britain’s smallest town. Chef patron Daniel Smith – who’s also been awarded The Observer’s Young Chef of the Year – showcases the best of Kent’s seasonal ingredients throughout all his menus. Starters include native lobster, butternut squash with pumpkin seed and orange and mains of venison sourced from a local farm with celeriac, damson and smoked bone marrow. There are also tasting menus and short tasting menus for vegetarian customers. The food is complemented by the restaurant’s lovely surroundings, with views over the River Stour.

Bulrush, Bristol, south-west England

Chef George Livesey opened this independent restaurant after a career in several high-end establishments, such as St John Restaurant, Roux Fine Dining under Dan Cox, Club Gascon and White Rabbit in Dalston, London. Mid-week customers can choose from à la carte and an eight-course tasting menu while Friday and Saturday evenings are about the show-stopping nine-course tasting menu. This is where you’ll find dishes such as starters of Highland grouse with cherries and sunflower seed and creative desserts such as butternut squash ice cream with hops, blackberries and cornflake crisp.

Find the full list of Michelin-star restaurants in Britain and Ireland here.

TASTE October 2018

London

The capital’s restaurant scene continues to buzz with new openings this autumn…and one trend we’re seeing is the number of exciting eateries opening in some of London’s top hotels. Renowned Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge has brought his culinary flair to the Corinthia Hotel London and opened his first London restaurant at the hotel in September, Kerridge’s Bar & Grill. You’ll find Tom’s take on Britain’s most celebrated dishes, a rotisserie, plus a set Sunday lunch menu and pre- and post-theatre dining.

When the new Bankside Hotel opens in mid-October, so will its new all-day dining restaurant and bar, the Art Yard Bar & Kitchen. Head Chef Lee Streeton’s menu uses seasonal British produce inspired by European cuisines. The menu will use produce sourced as locally as possible, including honey from their own beehives, fresh ingredients from London’s markets and a regularly changing menu of beers from breweries along the nearby Bermondsey Beer Mile.

Seasonal fare is also celebrated at Baluchi, the pan-Indian dining destination at luxury boutique hotel The LaLiT London and, to mark the return of Britain’s game season, Executive Chef Santosh Shah has launched an exclusive six-course tasting menu. Game such as grouse, partridge and venison will be given a twist using spice blends and traditional tandoor cooking.

Staying with innovations in Indian cuisine, the City of London has also welcomed new Indian barbecue restaurant Brigadiers London, a restaurant inspired by the army mess bars of India. You’ll find food cooked using different methods of Indian barbecue, such as tandoors, charcoal grills, rotisseries, wood ovens and classic Indian smokers.

The Latin American food invasion in the capital also continues to thrive, with the recently opened Zuaya; Spanish twins Alberto and Arian Zandi have opened a lively and contemporary restaurant on Kensington High Street. Head Chef Francisco Lafee’s menu is divided into eight sections: snacks, ceviche, tiraditos & tartars, salads, tacos, robata grills, stews and desserts, with dishes designed for sharing.

Italian favourites will be served at new all-day dining destination Harry’s Bar in Marylebone, close to Oxford Street, when it opens in October. Channelling mid-20th century Italian glamour, its menu will also include a signature weekend brunch and a special Cicchetti menu – small plates traditionally served in Venetian Bacari bars.

Champagne fan? Head to Marylebone-based boutique hotel The Arch London, which has just launched a ‘Champagne Flight Afternoon Tea’. Guests can sample seasonal cakes and sandwiches while sipping a trio of Taittinger Champagne selected to match each round of savouries and cakes. Champagne connoisseurs should also check out the recently opened bar at The Ned, where there are 30 Champagnes to choose from (also fun to try is its martini trolley, from which you can order your own bespoke blend).

And it’s been reported that Hollywood and TV star Idris Elba is opening a bar in London with Lee and Nicky Caulfield called The Parrot at the Waldorf Hilton. Details are limited but we do know it’s due to open in October, will be tropical themed, host live music every evening and will be the first bar to in London to offer its own chauffeur-driven car, in partnership with Aston Martin.

 

England

Manchester’s restaurant scene is booming as we head towards the end of 2018. The thriving neighbourhood of Ancoats and its growing foodie scene welcomed modern Portuguese restaurant Canto this month, with a menu inspired by Portugal’s culinary traditions. And Viet Shack has grown from a market food stall to a full-service restaurant in Ancoats, bringing Vietnamese flavours to its Viet wraps, Banh Mi, the ‘Viet Mac’ and peanut butter chicken ‘n’ chips.

Elsewhere in the city, Dishoom – the award-winning Indian café group, inspired by Bombay’s Irani colonial café scene and which has five venues in London – has secured a spot within Manchester Hall and looks set to open in winter 2018. And taking residence inside a four-storey, wooden-framed building in the centre of commercial district Spinningfields, The Ivy will bring to its café-style brasserie to Manchester this October, featuring an all-day dining menu of modern British and international dishes. Also launching the same month, as part of a multi-million-pound renovation of the historic Radisson Edwardian Hotel, the Peter Street Kitchen will be a destination restaurant dedicated to ‘shared dining’, with food consisting of small plates from contemporary Japanese and Mexican cuisines.

North-west England neighbour Liverpool, meanwhile, continues to witness a surge of independent food and drink establishments opening at the iconic Albert Dock. Recently adding to the historic site’s foodie scene are Catalan restaurant Lunyalita, vegan-friendly Peaberry Coffee House & Kitchen and artisan boutique bakery Rough Hand Made.

Liverpool has also welcomed an entire new foodie destination – the Grand Central Bazaar. Located in a stunning art nouveau building, this food hall is bursting with multiple stalls serving different cuisines, and retains many of the building’s original quirky features. Competing with it for most Instagrammable place to eat in Liverpool is the minimalist chic décor of Ropes and Twines on Bold Street, a ‘coffee and wine’ restaurant and gallery.

Birmingham has also witnessed growth in its foodie scene recently. A new ping pong bar – SERVE – opened last month, where guests can not only enjoy a match on one of its 17 ping pong tables, but also its creative menu where burgers are served in Chinese steamed charcoal marble bao buns and signature cocktails come with unique names such as Winner Winner Gin for Dinner. Meanwhile, in October, a new dining experience with the strapline ‘Meat. Bread. Beer’ will open in the city centre. Pint Shop will be located in a listed building dating back to 1860 in Birmingham’s former financial quarter, Bennett’s Hill, and will focus on a menu of seasonal British produce and local and national beers. And look out in 2019 for the third restaurant from top Birmingham chef Aktar Islam in the city.

An hour from London

There’s been a raft of new openings recently in the historic city of St Albans. As the vegan trend flourishes, the city has welcomed vegan café NoMooMoo, whose terrace overlooks the striking monument that is St Albans Cathedral. Enjoy local beers? Check out the new Reading Rooms, a cosy micropub opened by local brewery Farr Brew, or stop by for a delicious Sunday roast at The Plough Pub by Dylans, an independent free house in a rural setting.

Over in the university city of Cambridge a new restaurant has opened at the University Arms Cambridge hotel, the Parker’s Tavern, whose design mirrors the communal dining halls synonymous with Cambridge university colleges. Chef Tristan Welch has created a seasonally changing menu that is entirely British and highlights ingredients from Cambridge and East Anglian producers. Welch has brought back ancient British and local dishes and given them a modern twist, such as the Cambridge University classic Duke of Cambridge Tart.

Autumn Spotlight on: Norwich

A programme of unique culinary experiences is taking place in the city of Norwich, east England, this autumn. The inaugural Assembly House Food Festival (on from now until November) brings a mix of performance, dining and events to this city boutique B&B, restaurant, arts hub and cookery school. Visit for events such as a game masterclass or attend its School of Chocolate. New evening dining is launching at local deli Louis this autumn, running as a café by day and Les Garrigues by night, serving French food and wine, as two independent businesses join forces. Elsewhere, the Ivy Norwich has recently opened in the heart of the Norwich Lanes, where the cocktail menu includes new concoctions inspired by local stories. Foodie events to watch out for this autumn include a celebration of local produce at Porkstock on 13 October; the art of food science at the Norwich Science Festival (19 – 27 October); and the Norwich Beer Festival, (22 – 27 October), the largest provincial beer festival in the country.

Scotland

 

Edinburgh’s restaurant scene continues to grow this autumn with Michelin-starred chef Tom Kitchin set to open his fourth restaurant called Southside Scran in the neighbourhood of Bruntsfield in November. Looking for something super healthy? The city’s Leith neighbourhood has recently welcomed Kcal Kitchen, where the breakfast menu is packed with protein treats and the lunch and dinner menus ranging from super clean salads and vegan meatballs to muscle-builder burgers and clean Katsu curry.

Over in Glasgow, look out for the UK’s largest urban pancake house in October as Stack & Still opens to the hungry public. It will boast a pancake menu offering more than ten million possible combinations and including buckwheat, gluten-free, vegan, buttermilk, protein and sugar-free selections, plus Glasgow’s first-ever self-dispense drinks bar.

And the north Glasgow district of Maryhill welcomed the opening of The Botany this month. Diners feast a fresh ingredient-driven menu that includes its special Balmoral Pie, while sitting in a glasshouse conservatory overlooking gorgeous gardens.

 

Awards

The 50 best restaurants in the UK for 2019 were revealed this month in the latest Good Food Guide. Three restaurants scored a perfect ten in this year’s guide; Cornwall-based Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume in Cumbria, north-west England and Core by Clare Smyth in London’s Notting Hill.

The Magic Is Back – Mary Poppins Returns!

It's been 53 years since the original Mary Poppins popped onto our screens with her magical bag and flying umbrella. And, at the end of this year, she's back – played by Emily Blunt – to visit the grown-up Banks children, now in 1935, in the Disney musical sequel Mary Poppins Returns, where London is once again a star of the story. Here’s how to have your very own magical Mary Poppins experience in the capital that’s, as our favourite nanny would say, practically perfect in every way.

                                         

Lights, camera, action

Discover behind-the-scenes stories from the new film and details from the original Mary Poppins books and film on the new Brit Movies Mary Poppins tour, launching in 2019, which will take you through the streets of London and the locations used in Mary Poppins Returns. The two-hour walking tour, which is family friendly, will take in famous landmarks that you’ll recognise from the original movie and that have appeared in the sequel’s trailer, such as St Paul’s Cathedral, one of the most impressive examples of cathedral architecture in the country. Another filming location was by Buckingham Palace – its magnificent state rooms are open to visitors for ten weeks each summer –  as was outside the Bank of England. While this isn’t open to tours, check out its fascinating Bank of England Museum.

Stop by the house where it all began

We wouldn’t have the films if it wasn’t for the original books created by Australian-born author P.L. Travers who spent most of her life in England, which was where she created her unforgettable character. She wrote a series of eight books on the magical nanny at 50 Smith Street in Chelsea, which earlier this year was commemorated with an English Heritage Blue Plaque. P.L. Travers lived here for 17 years and the house is said to have inspired the look of the Banks’ family home in the original movie.

 

Enjoy a spoonful of sugar

You’ll get much more than just one spoonful of sugary treats at this creative and delicious afternoon tea at Aqua Shard. Launched to coincide with the relaunch of the five original Mary Poppins classic books, this afternoon tea of nostalgic sweets and savouries is available until April 2019…and it’s all so enchanting. The menu is a gilt gold framed mirror menu – the mirror is a recurring symbol throughout the books – and tea is delivered on a custom-made tea stand with an umbrella on top and silver booted feet below – with crockery designed with Mary Shepard’s original illustrations of Mary Poppins. Feast on homemade scones with jam and clotted cream (which you’ll find in Mary’s carpet bag); miniature crumpets; two bespoke teas ‘Mary’s Tea’ and ‘Bert’s Tea’; unique sweet treats such as Mary Poppins’ very own hat with a black ‘Cherry Tree Lane’ mousse covered in dark chocolate, and Fairground Candy Floss. Order champagne with the tea and be charmed by the kite that flies from the champagne flute before adding ‘medicine’ to the glass, with the choice of three homemade liqueurs. It’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

 

Go fly a kite!

The trailer from Mary Poppins Returns includes a spot of kite-flying – which will have you humming Let’s Go Fly A Kite! from the original movie in no time. Of course, you can fly a kite across many of London’s green spaces, but if you want to fly your kite against the backdrop of the celebrated London skyline, head up to the top of Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath, north London. Primrose Hill near Regent’s Park also affords spectacular views over the capital; the top of this hill is one of six protected viewpoints in London.

Step onto London’s rooftops
Bert took Mary Poppins up to the rooftops of London to show her the view of the capital through the eyes of a chimney sweep but you can gaze over the capital’s magnificent skyline in a far more sophisticated manner. London has many rooftop bars with panoramic vistas over the capital’s rooftops. Try out the Rumpus Room on floor 12 of South Bank’s Mondrian Hotel for its awesome view of St Paul’s Cathedral; the Radio Rooftop Bar at ME London for 360 degree views of the capital; or The Rooftop St James’ overlooking Trafalgar Square and ideal for all weathers thanks to  its retractable roof.

Order a bespoke umbrella

What is Mary Poppins’ favourite mode of transport? Flying in by umbrella of course! While owning a flying umbrella is just a dream, you can have your own bespoke brolly created at one of London’s historic establishments of fine craftsmanship. James Smith and Sons, just off Regent Street, has been designing and making high-end umbrellas (think handles of exquisitely carved wood) since 1830, while Fox Umbrellas has been creating beautiful bespoke umbrellas since 1868.

 

Book tickets to see Mary Poppins in the West End

Once you’ve watched the sequel, you’ll be inspired by all things Mary Poppins…and it’s recently been confirmed that Mary Poppins will return to the West End at Prince Edward Theatre in Autumn 2019! Booking for the show – a joint production between Cameron Mackintosh and Disney Theatrical Productions – opens in January 2019 and will star Zizi Strallen, who will step back into Mary’s shoes having played the role in the international tour.

 

 

 

TASTE June 2018

TREND: Pop up food

For its fifth and biggest year this summer, Carnaby Street Eat is returning this year with over 30 food stalls and trucks in the heart of London’s West End on 11 July. The free-entry street food festival will showcase some of London’s most diverse restaurants with a focus on the variety of global cuisines available and exclusive dishes. Another temporary delight, HipChips has launched a pop-up in One New Change and will be serving hand crafted heritage potato crisps alongside a menu of premium sweet and savoury dips. They will be open every Wednesday and Friday from 10am to 3pm throughout the summer months.

 

London

The all-embracing vegan trend continues to rise as three vegan newcomers are in London’s spotlight this summer. Following the hugely successful launch of the Covent Garden site in February, the plant-based phenomenon by Chloe will open its second London restaurant this summer in Tower Bridge. The chef-driven vegan menu features locally sourced ingredients in their most natural form to create hearty, nourishing meals made from whole ingredients that can have a positive impact on the overall mind, body and health. As part of W London Hotel's Dining Series, a new fully vegan menu that masterfully showcases just how flavourful and versatile vegan food can be, has been unveiled at W London in Leicester Square by Ravinder Bhogal. This residency is available to book until the end of June 2018, so grab a spot while you still can. Purezza (purity) was the first vegan pizzeria in the UK when it launched in Brighton in 2015, and plant-lovers will be pleased to know that last month they launched a new restaurant in Camden. Their aim is simple: to make their plant based menu superior to the traditional alternatives.

Top chef Mark Sargeant has bought modern British dining to his new venture at the iconic Tower of London with the launch last month of Sargeant's Mess, in collaboration with independent hospitality group, CH&Co and Historic Royal Palaces. Using ingredients from local producers, the restaurant has an extensive outdoor terrace with impressive views across the river and a dedicated bar serving prosecco on tap, frozen cocktails and beer slushies makes it the perfect alfresco spot for this summer. 

 

South West England

Roth Bar & Grill, Somerset, will be joining over 1,000 farms across the UK in Open Farm Sunday on 10 June: an annual initiative celebrating the diversity of British farming and the many ways in which the countryside can be farmed, foraged and maintained. Expect tractor and trailer rides across the farm, butchery demonstrations and farm produce samples such as Durslade Farm cider. With its own working farm and kitchen garden supplying the restaurant, the farmhouse offers a slice of culture in the countryside with its on-site art gallery and landscape gardens.

Gin lovers rejoice as the UK's biggest Gin Festival Tour arrives in Salisbury on 23 June. Based in Malthouse Lane, The Great British Gin Festival features over 100 different gins from around the world alongside cocktail demonstrations, talks and presentations, trade stands and even a virtual reality gin distillery.

 

South East England

The new official pub tour of Oxford offers a great way to discover a fine range of medieval and more recent inns and hostelries, providing a glimpse of history, and finishing with a lovely, cold pint. Led by a qualified guide with an intimate knowledge of the city (and the interior of many of its pubs), the tours are 1.5 hours long and start at 7pm.

 

East Midlands

Fischer’s Baslow Hall has launched a brand new foraging dining experience in Derbyshire, led by one of the UK’s top foraging and wild food experts, James Wood. Guests will have the chance to experience the abundance of wild ingredients on offer in the area: from flowers tasting of pineapple, to leaves tasting of aniseed. There will be a whole morning of foraging will be followed by a three-course lunch inspired by the morning’s bountiful harvest, showcasing truly local, seasonal and fresh wild ingredients at their best. The next available date will be 10 October.

 

Edinburgh, Scotland

The latest addition to the Chop House family has opened in Edinburgh’s Bruntsfield. Serving the best British beef, dry-aged and butchered in-house, Chop House offers a unique casual dining experience focused on steak and cocktails. Renowned for a sociable style of dining, Chop House presents large cuts of beef, sharing starters and enticing side dishes designed to be enjoyed by the whole table. The custom-made marble bar on the ground floor is the perfect spot to soak up the bustling atmosphere and views of Bruntsfield Links. A fantastic selection of drinks includes a carefully-curated wine list, inventive cocktails and locally-sourced beers including Chop House’s own beer brewed in partnership with Drygate Brewery.

 

The Fishmarket is a new seafood venture from Ondine’s Chef Patron, Roy Brett and Gary Welch, owner of Welch Fishmongers. Situated on Newhaven Harbour where boats have landed fish since the 16th century, the refurbishment of the original fish market building has taken over a year and extensive investment. There is both a traditional fish and chip counter and a 50-cover restaurant with a champagne bar where dishes on offer include Crispy Crab Claws from Scrabster and Grilled Tobermory Langoustines, Oysters and the Grand ‘Fruits of the Sea’.

 

Hawksmoor, one of UK’s best-known and most respected restaurants is coming to Scotland this summer with a new restaurant opening in Edinburgh in mid-July. Situated in the banking hall of the former Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters, the 170-cover restaurant and bar will celebrate the original features of the A listed ‘building of national importance’ and a rare example of late Art Deco Scottish architecture. The restaurant will also draw on the amazing produce the country has to offer and feature seafood from around the Scottish coast alongside its famous beef from grass-fed native breed cattle from both sides of the border.

 

AWARDS

Welsh and proud, Aber Falls Distillery, the first whisky distillery in North Wales in more than 100 years, has achieved five prestigious medals at the this year’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition – one of the spirits industry’s most respected competitions. The brand’s multiple successes include a Gold for its new Welsh Dry Gin, a Silver for its Orange Marmalade Gin, Violet and Salted Toffee Liqueurs, and a Bronze for its Dark Chocolate & Coffee Liqueur.

In 2018, Olive Magazine honoured Radnor Preserves, who are based in Caersws, Powys, as one of the top 10 finest artisan food producers in Britain. They have been judged as one of the best artisan marmalade producers in the world, and 2015 they won the Champion of Champion's Double Gold Prize at the World Marmalade Awards. Ingredients are locally sourced as far as possible, and all products are gluten free and are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. 

The Bull, Beaumaris on the Isle of Anglesey has won the Wales Pub of the Year at the National Pub and Bar Awards.