Foodie Focus on…Manchester

As one of Britain’s largest, most vibrant cities, Manchester in north-west England boasts an ever-evolving foodie scene, from its wealth of cafés, bars and restaurants to well-established food markets packed with stalls selling the best of local produce. The growth in its vegan and vegetarian cuisine offer shows no sign of slowing down, its drinks scene is booming, and its history of global trading has resulted in a wide range of international cuisine choices across the city.

Regional specialities and where to taste them

Eccles Cake – Buttery, flaky pastry encasing succulent, juicy currants – what’s not to like about these sweet treats! Said to originate in the town of Eccles, a Manchester suburb, you can pick up one of these tasty cakes throughout the city but, for a special treat, head to the source itself and order an Eccles cake with a coffee at the Malaga Drift Coffee Company in Eccles.

Manchester Tart – The Manchester Tart it reportedly a variation on the original Manchester pudding, which was first recorded by famed Victorian cookery writer Mrs Beeton. This creamy combination of raspberry jam, custard and coconut flakes encased in shortcrust pastry can be found in many bakeries across the city and its suburbs, although if you’re shopping in Arndale market stop by deli/bakery stall Hansford’s to try its version.

Lancashire Hot Pot – The history of this deliciously warming, one-pot stew of lamb and onion topped with sliced potatoes dates back to the Industrial Revolution, when long work hours meant women would take a stew or pudding to a baker’s oven and leave it there to cook while they were at work. For an authentic taste of this hearty dish, order one at Annie’s Restaurant and Tea Shop, (owned by Coronation Street actress Jennie McAlpine) which specialises in a menu of traditional local and British dishes.

Vimto – Originally sold as a health tonic when it was created in Manchester by John Noel Nichols in 1908, this fruity soft drink of raspberries, grapes and blackcurrants mixed with a blend of herbs and spices became a cordial in 1913. Now you can find it on supermarket shelves but innovative Manchester-based restaurant Grafene has created a Vimto-inspired cocktail called Vimto Gardens, a blend of Manchester’s Bramble’ Sipsmith Gin, Grafene’s Vimto purée and lemon.

 

5 must-do food and drink experiences

One for all the gin lovers; Three River’s Gin School has been designated number one of the best things to do in Manchester, according to TripAdvisor. This interactive gin experience is based in the City of Manchester Distillery, the city centre’s first distillery and home to Manchester Three Rivers Gin. The experience begins with a gin and tonic while guests learn about the distillery’s short history and the history of gin, before embarking on a distillery tour, sampling four complimentary gin-based drinks along the way and creating your own personalised bottle of gin in its mini copper pot stills to take home.

The word ‘scran’ is a popular term used in the north of England to describe food – one embraced by Scranchester Tours, a gastronomic, multi-stop tour that reveals the untold food and drink stories of the city through a series of tastings during a four-hour tour. You’ll learn how the city’s food and drink offer links to its history, discovering interesting gems such as what the diet of a Victorian mill worker would have been, and the back story to the neighbourhood of Ancoat’s Little Italy and its myriad ice-cream vendors. You’ll also taste some of the best ‘scran’ the city has to offer…come hungry!

Manchester is home to a raft of craft breweries, and one great way to experience several is by booking onto one of Manchester Brewery Tours’ experiences. Check out its Microbrewery Experience, where, for four hours, you’ll explore and learn about four of the city’s taprooms and craft beer venues, as well as the brewing process, and enjoy several tastings. Alternatively, book onto its Manchester Beer Tasting Tour or its Manchester Beer Pairings Masterclass, where local beers are matched with cheese and meats.

Explore the brilliant mix of street food, craft ales and live music that takes place at the GRUB weekly food fair, held at Fairfield Social Club in the regenerated Mayfield area of the city centre every Friday and Saturday, with every Sunday given over to all things vegan –  #PlantPoweredSundays. It’s a great place to meet the locals as there’s a real community feel at this food event. GRUB’s whole ethos is to support new traders and independent businesses from Manchester, so you’ll certainly find an authentic Mancunian foodie experience here.

Based in the well-heeled neighbourhood of Didsbury, Food Sorcery & Barista School offers cookery experiences led by expert chefs and local suppliers. Classes offer everything from world foods to steak masterclasses and cheese-making, as well as ‘fit food’ classes creating delicious meals to stay healthy. Coffee lovers should check out its coffee courses, suitable for upskilling your barista skills or learning how to make the perfect brew at home.

 

Hot restaurants you have to visit

The French – A fantastic example of British fine dining at its best, The French is located in a Grade II-listed dining room at the luxury Midland Hotel. Led by Manchester-born chef-patron Adam Reid, who has worked across many Michelin-starred restaurants, the four-, six- and nine-course menus combine seasonal produce with modern British flavours, such as Cumbrian red deer with pickled quince, girolles and bilberries, and Tunworth cheese and broccoli custard.

Where the Light Gets In – A British restaurant using foraged ingredients across its menus, Where The Light Gets In – based in Stockport half an hour outside Manchester city centre – brings storytelling to its dishes. There is no set menu available; instead, chef Sam Buckley creates a dining experience from the day's catch, harvest and slaughter, all served within the eclectic décor of a Victorian coffee warehouse.

  • The award-winning and trailblazing Allotment restaurant has moved from Stockport to a bigger site in Manchester city centre. Led by chef-owner Matthew Nutter, the Allotment’s innovative and unpretentious menu has won it plaudits such as The Times’ ‘Best Vegetarian Restaurant in the UK’. Choose from its signature menu or from either a seven- or ten-course tasting menu, which includes mouth-watering dishes such as braised celeriac with golden beetroot, rosemary, sun-blushed tomato and bechamel or Thai Squash Pie with gingerbread, tamarind toffee and salt-baked pineapple.

El Gato Negro – discover a taste of Spain in the city centre at this tapas restaurant located in a converted historic town house. The dishes are influenced by the seasons and, while they use traditional Spanish flavours, you’ll find local ingredients are used across its menu. See the creations come to life at the Chef’s Table or gaze at the stars while you dine on the top floor, which sits under a retractable roof.

Bundobust – showcasing Manchester’s strong international cuisine offer, Bundobust serves delicious Indian street food and craft beers, making this one of Manchester’s go-to places for easy, tasty cuisine. This ‘beer & Indian’ joint sits close to the Northern Quarter delivering Gujurat-inspired street food and craft beer from both local and international breweries.

Rudy’s – This little slice of Naples is found in the heart of Manchester. Rudy’s walk-in pizza restaurant makes its dough on site every day, just as they would in Naples. As well as its regular toppings, you could find a delicious innovative creation on the menu available for just that week, such as Ancoats Speciale, which served up pizza with pumpkin cream, scamoza, coppa, rocket and black pepper.  With two locations, one on Peter Street in the city centre and one in Ancoats, the pizzas are both tasty and Instagrammable.

The Refuge by Volta – nestled in the Grade II-listed Principal Hotel, this restaurant and bar serves up beautiful small plate dishes such as salt cod croquettes, Merguez sausage with spiced puy lentils and crispy egg yolk, and beetroot pakora with tamarind ketchup. Run by DJs-turned-restaurateurs Luke Cowdrey and Justin Crawford, AKA the Unabombers, there’s also the People’s Lunch on the menu, which is a changing selection of hearty specials. The food is inspired by world cuisine yet uses ingredients sourced in the north west of England. And with two DJs at the helm it’s not surprising that, come the weekend, its bar plays awesome sounds.

Mackie Mayor – A major refurbishment saw this Grade II-listed market building on the edge of the Northern Quarter become two floors of eateries housed under one huge glass roof. Up to 500 diners can be seated along the rows of long bench tables and seating, with customers choosing from Taiwanese steamed buns at Bao House to sustainable, British-caught fish cooked whole over chargrill at Fin Fish Bar. There’s also pizza, rotisserie, Italian cuisine, coffee, wines and beer.

 

A 48-hour foodie itinerary

 

Day One

 

07:30 Start with an early breakfast at Ezra & Gil, an urban coffee hangout in the Northern Quarter, housed in a former clothing showroom. Choose from a comprehensive menu that includes smashed pumpkin on toast, house-baked granola and Greek-style green omelette.

 

10:00 Time to work up an appetite again on the Northern Quarter Taster Walk led by Manchester Food Walks, where you’ll discover Manchester's history and culture with food from some of the city's best providers. One of the walks available (which could be taken over lunchtime) is a roving feast of five small plates in Northern Quarter eateries. The guide talks you through the historic district’s markets, curry cafés and cult destinations such as Afflecks Palace.

 

13:00 Still hungry? Grab a table at the Northern Quarter’s Trof to munch on burgers, sandwiches and salads and sample its extensive beer menu. Make plans to return in the evening to enjoy its dedicated bourbon bar or come back on a Sunday for its ‘Roasts & Records’ event, dining on a succulent traditional Sunday roast dinner accompanied by music played on vinyl.

14:00 The Runaway Brewery brews its ‘modern-tasting, recognisably British’ beers by hand in small batches at its microbrewery. Head there for its core range of Pale Ales, IPA, Smoked Porter and American Brown Ales – there’s always seasonal ales to try out – and book onto one of its brewery tours that take place every Saturday.

17:00 Witness a different type of Manchester creativity with cocktails at Apotheca. Opt for brilliantly named (and tasting) drinks such as Bacon and Brown Sauce Bloody Mary, Hazy Memoirs of a Geisha, or Selfie Inflicted, where ingredients such as lychee liqueur or wasabi peas might make an appearance. The décor is just as innovative as the cocktails – think antique apothecary cabinets and comfy leather sofas.

19:00 Taking residence inside an impressive, four-storey, wooden-framed building in the centre of commercial district Spinningfields, The Ivy is bringing the infamous London celebrity hotspot to Manchester when it opens in November. The café-style brasserie features an all-day dining menu, will be open seven days a week, and promises a mix of modern British and international dishes.

 

Day Two

09:00 The district of New Islington is home to Pollen Bakery, a bakery of Scandi-influenced design and counters groaning with freshly baked loaves and cakes. Start the day with one of its famous sourdough loaves (which come in forms such as five-seed, oat porridge and Pollen rye) or one of its Viennoiserie baked goods, ranging from cinnamon buns to Manchester tart cruffins and seasonal treats such as British strawberry pistachio bakewells.

10:00 Here’s your chance to experience urban foraging. Manchester-based cookery school and not-for-profit social enterprise Cracking Good Food, which promotes sustainable, seasonal cooking, offers a rolling programme of wild food forages that take place in the neighbourhoods of Didsbury, Chorlton and Sale. The foraging walks reflect the seasons with special mushroom hunts in the autumn or elderflower picking in the summer.

13:00 Opened in September 2018, Canto is a modern Portuguese restaurant imagined up by the chef patron of city hotspot El Gato Negro, Simon Shaw. Like its award-winning sibling, Canto serves up simple, modern and distinctive dishes, taking inspiration from Portugal’s culinary traditions – perfect for a lunchtime stop.

15:00 Manchester has a fascinating gin history, one which you can discover on the Gin Journey Manchester. The tour includes a distillery visit, a ‘Gin Guardian’ to relate all the stories and history, five samples of gin specially selected for the tour, five gin cocktails and a chauffeur to transport you from venue to venue.

19:30 Dine at the newly opened Peter Street Kitchen, part of a multi-million-pound renovation of the historic Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel. This destination restaurant is all about ‘shared dining’, with a menu consisting of small plates from two different cuisines; contemporary Japanese and Mexican.

 

Food festivals in 2019

Manchester Food and Drink Festival – 2019 dates TBC but usually runs end of September to early October.

Bolton Food and Drink Festival – half an hour from Manchester, this large-scale festival runs in August.

Indy Man Beer Con – Taking place in October in the gorgeous surroundings of the Grade II-listed Victoria Baths, a short journey from the city centre, this is the place to visit for independent breweries showcasing their wares.

19 fabulous things to do in Britain in 2019

  1. Channel your inner Formula 1 driver

When the Silverstone Heritage Experience opens in Spring at the home of British Motor Racing, this thrilling new visitor attraction – which will use state-of-the-art interactive displays to tell the story of motor racing in a permanent exhibition – culminates in an immersive show dome finale where you can experience what it’s like to zip around the track alongside your racing heroes.

 

  1. Watch the world premiere of an Idris Elba production

As part of the Manchester International Festival – the world’s first festival of original, new work and special events and the biggest event on Manchester’s cultural calendar that takes place every two years – film and TV star Idris Elba joins forces with London’s Young Vic artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah, for the thrilling production of Tree. This, among many other cultural events, will take place at venues all over the city between 4 – 21 July.

 

  1. Surf inland in England’s south west

Pull on a wetsuit and hit the waves…in the city of Bristol. Set to open in the autumn, new inland surfing lake The Wave Bristol will be powered by the latest wave-making technology and generate up to 1,000 quality waves per hour. There’ll be three surf zones for different abilities and a high-performance surf centre for elite athletes and aspiring pros.

  1. Book tickets to one of Britain’s youngest music festivals

Following on from the success of last year’s launch, the RiZE Festival is one of the newest multi-genre music festivals to arrive in the UK. This is a party for everyone; the music genres range from indie and pop to dance and urban and takes places in Chelmsford, Essex, in south-east England between 16 – 17 August.
 

  1. Explore a world-class medicine collection

Following a £24 million investment, the entire first floor of London’s Science Museum will be given over to one of the most significant medicine collections in the world at the museum’s new Medicine Galleries. Due to open in 2019, the extraordinary collections of the pharmaceutical entrepreneur Henry Wellcome and the Science Museum will be on display, telling the stories of how our lives have been transformed by changes in medicine and health over the last 400 years.
 

  1. Party like a dancing queen

Opening its doors at London’s The O2 in summer 2019 is the must-visit event from Stockholm – Mamma Mia! The Party. Guests will be transported to Nikos’ Taverna on an exotic Greek island, where they’ll be served Mediterranean food and drink and sing and dance along to ABBA songs. The perfect event for anyone who loves to party.
 

  1. See sporting legends make history

Britain has been crazy about cricket for centuries, making it a fantastic destination for the ICC Cricket World Cup

 

  1. Join a ‘Carnival of History’

2019 will see Leeds Castle in Kent, south-east England, celebrate its incredible 900-year anniversary, with events taking place over the entire 12 months. Put the 27 – 28 July in your diary in particular as it will host an amazing ‘Carnival of History’, a colourful procession that will culminate in an impressive finale set against the backdrop of this stunning castle.
 

  1. Discover why Van Gogh loved London

​​​​​​​Tate Britain has announced the largest exhibition of Vincent van Gogh’s work in the UK for nearly a decade (27 March – 11 August). Van Gogh and Britain will bring together 40 paintings of the artist’s most famous works, including one of the Sunflowers paintings and will examine Van Gogh’s relationship with Britain – he lived in London in his early 20s – and the British art, literature and culture he was inspired by.
 

  1. Watch the world’s best golfers battle to win one of golf’s most prestigious cups

The biggest event in women’s golf, the Solheim Cup, comes to the celebrated Gleneagles Golf Course in Perthshire, Scotland, between 9 – 15 September. Teams of 12 players representing Europe and the United States will hit the world-renowned golf course, with more than 100,000 spectators expected to attend from around the world. Will one of them be you?
 

  1. Gain cultural kudos at Britain’s largest sculpture festival

​​​​​​​Head to the county of Yorkshire in north England next year for the first-ever Yorkshire Sculpture International, a free, 100-day festival that will be presented by four world-renowned cultural institutions based in Leeds and Wakefield: the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds Art Gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield and Yorkshire Sculpture Park. The festival will build upon Yorkshire’s rich history as the birthplace of pioneering sculptors, and as the home of this unique consortium of galleries and celebrated sculpture collections.
 

  1. Cheer on your country

​​​​​​​The competitive world of netball comes to Liverpool, north-west England, between 12 – 21 July, as the city hosts the Netball World Cup. Sixteen international teams will be arriving in Liverpool, with host nation England placed at second seeds, following their Commonwealth Games gold medal earlier this year. Who will you be supporting?
 

  1. Celebrate a British icon’s birthday

​​​​​​​The legendary Mini turns 60 next year and, for the first time in five years, the International Mini Meet will take place in the UK. Washingpool Farm near Bristol in south-west England will be the host (8 – 12 August), welcoming Mini owners from all over the world and celebrating with a huge birthday party. Also head to the British Motor Museum in Warwick, south-west England, where a two-day show between 3 – 4 August will mark the landmark birthday with a series of Mini-themed activities.
 

  1. Witness the return of Girl Power

​​​​​​​We’re sure you’ve heard…but British super-group The Spice Girls will be setting out on a reunion tour in June 2019 as a four-piece (minus Victoria Beckham) at various stadia across Britain. Will you be among the lucky ones to get tickets?
 

  1. Set your eyes on fabulous fashion

​​​​​​​A must-see for anyone who follows fashion are two fantastic exhibitions coming to London’s V&A Museum in 2019. Opening in February is Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams while April sees the launch of an exhibition dedicated to 1960s fashion revolutionary Mary Quant.
 

  1. Embrace your love for literature

​​​​​​​2019 will see cultural leaders from 28 countries come to Britain in May for a global gathering of the UNESCO Cities of Literature, the first time the event will take place in the UK. Dubbed Nottwich 2019 – as its gathering of writers and programme of cultural events will take place in Norwich and Nottingham in east England, two of Britain’s Cities of Literature – look out for a literary programme that will challenge your mind.
 

  1. Party like it’s 2019

​​​​​​​Celebrate with the people of London’s first-ever Borough of Culture – an initiative launched by London Mayor Sadiq Khan – as Waltham Forest in north-east London, kicks off its year-long cultural programme between 11 – 13 January with a huge party called Welcome to the Forest. Expect a magnificent visual and audio show, carnivals and light installations all telling the stories of the local people and area.
 

  1. Reserve a table at one of London’s hottest new restaurants

​​​​​​​Slated to open in January, chef Leonardo Pereira – who spent five years working at Noma in Copenhagen, one of the world’s most famous restaurants – is opening a Covent Garden-based restaurant called Nutshell, which will feature Iranian cuisine created from British produce.
 

  1. Book to see a new West End show

​​​​​​​London’s West End will welcome a host of fabulous new shows in 2019, including the hit musical Waitress, which comes to the Adelphi Theatre in Spring, while Mary Poppins makes a welcome return to the stage in Autumn at the Prince Edward Theatre.

Six places to sample Britain’s best cheeses

Did you know Britain produces over 700 varieties of cheese? And that 14 of those have a protected status of origin? That’s why British cheeses will be celebrated at the Big Cheese Festival at Brighton Racecourse this coming March.

From smooth bries to vintage cheddars, the nation’s cheeses are as diverse as the regions they come from. Here’s where you can try some of the tastiest.

 

London

First-time visitors to Britain can start their cheese adventure at The Cheese Bar in Camden where they can try the UK’s best artisan cheeses on carefully curated cheeseboards featuring everything from the crumbly Dorset Blue Vinny to the craft cheese, Lincolnshire Poacher.

Fondue evenings are also held on Thursdays from November to February, with a special pairing of crisp Alpine wines.

 

Somerset

Thanks to its rich pastures, Somerset is an epicentre for foodies and home to England’s most famous cheese - the town of Cheddar was the hub of the country’s dairy industry from as early as the 12th century.

Take a self-guided tour at The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company to discover the traditional art of cheddar-making. You can also visit Cheddar Gorge and Caves, where the unique cave-aged variety of cheese is matured.

 

Gloucester

Each year, thousands climb Cooper’s Hill in the village of Brockworth near Gloucester for the wacky Cheese Rolling and Wake Festival where every Spring Bank Holiday, a nine-pound round of firm Double Gloucester is rolled down the steep hill at 70 miles per hour with contestants ambitiously attempting to catch it.

The festival started back in the 1800s for locals, but today, the races attract participants from Canada, France, Spain and Japan. And of course, there are plenty of opportunities to try a variety of Gloucestershire cheeses.

 

Caerphilly, Wales

Originally produced as a sustaining and convenient lunch for local miners, Caerphilly cheese has a rich history. Today, South Caernarfon Creameries is the only remaining Welsh producer of this mild, hard, crumbly cheese.

Their award-winning Cavern Cheddar is matured in the same Llechwedd Slate Caverns where the miners worked, where you can take a tour. Wales is famed for its food events including The Big Cheese festival at Caerphilly Castle where every July, over 80,000 visitors arrive to indulge in Welsh cheese and produce, and participate in the cheese-carrying relay race.

 

Wensleydale

Head to north to the town of Hawes to discover the home of Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese, where the original recipe has been handmade for centuries. Today, there are numerous blends to tantalise your tastebuds.

Book a class to learn how it’s made at Wensleydale Creamery, then explore where it all began at Jervaulx Abbey where it was crafted by French monks in the 12th century using sheep’s milk.

 

Northern Ireland

Mike’s Fancy Cheese in County Down was launched in 2013 as part of a crowdfunding campaign by former cheese-making student Michael Thomson.

After learning from the UK’s leading artisans, he developed Northern Ireland’s first raw milk blue cheese, Young Buck, a rich, creamy cheese that resembles the very best Stilton. In 2017, he was a finalist for best new cheese producer at the Great British Cheese Awards.

Join in County Down’s lively food and drink scene via a host of fine food tours including Whiskey Club tasting events, food festivals and markets.

Taste Newsletter - April 2017

This April edition of TASTE brings you VisitBritain's latest round-up of new restaurant openings and foodie news from across the country over the last three months - from the fresh Hawaiian poke bowl trend to new foodie tours of the city of York, and legendary pizzerias arriving in London town straight from the streets of Naples. Happy dining!

 

 

TREND: Hawaiian health food

Say aloha to poké! These colourful, protein-rich bowls of fresh marinated raw fish, vegetables, pickles, sauces and rice, are surfing the fast-moving wave of London's food scene.

Island Poké, Ahi Poké and Black Roe arrived last year and have now been joined by new Soho opening, Honi Poké. Dishes on the menu - created by former Michelin-starred chef Richard De La Cruz - include the signature Octo Poké, with octopus, kimchi, chive, cucumber and red chilli. After the success of its first site in Mayfair, Ahi Poké will open a second eatery in June in Victoria, clad in chilled Hawaiian beach-style décor. Diners can choose from made-to-order takeaway bowls and signature dishes such as Heat Wave, with quinoa, salmon, avocado, kimchi cucumber, red onion, coriander and sriracha mayo. Over at Soho House's new destination hotel and restaurant, The Ned, poké features on the menu of its modern Asian-Pacific restaurant, Kaia.

 

TREND: Modern Indian

Champions of modern Indian food are introducing new flavours and eating styles, evolving Britain's long-lasting love affair with Indian food beyond the classic curry.

Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar's Mumbai-based Not Really Indian (NRI) restaurant concept will make its British debut at The Mailbox in Birmingham in September. Atul focusses on what he calls "diaspora food," inspired by localised versions of Indian food he's tasted in countries around the globe, resulting in dishes such as coconut Malay curry and crab kofta.

In London, Cinnamon Bazaar's inventive small plates of modern Indian cuisine are served in a more casual, colourful setting than its sister restaurant, the majestic Cinnamon Club in Westminster. Newly opened in April, Tamarind Kitchen in Soho, is an informal version of Tamarind of Mayfair - one of the first Indian restaurants in the world to receive a Michelin star - and serves dishes such as south Indian kingfish curry. In May, Himalayan flavours are coming to London with Madame D's in Spitalfields, drawing on Indian, Nepalese, Tibetan and Chinese cooking, with a sharing menu featuring the likes of Gold Coin Dumplings and Tibetan Duck Momo.

The team behind Grub Fest food festival in New Delhi - reputedly India's biggest food festival - have opened their first Indian tapas and cocktail bar, Lokhandwala, on London's Charlotte Street. Serving a selection of lighter small plates based on regional Indian cuisines, dishes include yellow fin tuna marinated with mango, pepper and chilli served on poppadums.

 

TREND: Afternoon tea spring makeovers

Spring is here! And a host of new Instagram-worthy afternoon teas have sprung up across London.

Sanderson Hotel's Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea is back, and its relaunch will see the menu evolve seasonally, with the latest touches including a mocha chessboard gateau and a ‘Drink Me' potion. Meanwhile, The Berkeley in Knightsbridge has launched its Spring/Summer 2017 Prêt-à-Portea - the popular afternoon tea with a fashion twist, celebrating new catwalk collections like Miu Miu's bikini, re-imagined as a lime biscuit.

Say ‘kon'nichiwa' to the new afternoon tea at Sosharu restaurant, inspired by Japan's tea ceremonies. Treats include taiyaki, a traditional fish-shaped cake filled with rhubarb and white chocolate crème, accompanied by green tea or cocktails blended with flavours including matcha and jasmine flowers. From Japan to the Nordics, Aquavit London's new Nordic Afternoon Tea consists of four savoury and four sweet dishes of delicacies such as Danish open sandwiches on house-made rye bread with classic gravalax (raw salmon cured in salt, sugar, and dill), plus Swedish Semla cardamom buns filled with almond paste, and seven different traditional cookies.

Chocoholics rejoice! The Montagu at Hyatt Regency London - The Churchill has launched ChocolaTEA, which even features savoury chocolate treats, such as its burger with BBQ sauce infused with dark chocolate. Wash it down with a Maya gold cocoa nib tea or a Sir Winston's Martini, also mixed with dark chocolate, of course. For vegans, the classic afternoon tea ingredients are usually off limits - until now, with The Egerton House Hotel's new afternoon tea featuring vegan versions of classic favourites, including vegan scones.

 

TREND: Italian roots

Italian cuisine is certainly not a new concept across Britain, but with the arrival of two legendary pizzerias straight from Naples, London diners can now experience a new taste of ‘la dolce vita'.

Naples pizza royalty L'Antica Pizzeria daMichele has brought its legendary name to Stoke Newington in north London, but its pizza chefs are always trained in Naples first to ensure the pizzas are produced in the traditional way. In Kilburn, north-west London, Naples pizza merchant Pizzeria Trianon Vomero has introduced its almost 100-year-old family recipes to diners at Quartieri, where pizzas can be ordered in ‘cartwheel' size, and the imported house wine comes from a vineyard beneath Mount Vesuvius!

Also in north London, acclaimed chef Francesco Mazzei has opened Radici, his authentic Italian trattoria, in Islington. Radici translates as ‘roots', reflecting Mazzei's southern Italian heritage. His seasonal menus are served in laid-back, modern interiors, and include favourite pasta dishes from his homeland, such as Conchiglioni with ricotta and herbs, as well as fresh pizzas straight from the huge wood-fired oven. The restaurant also has a wine room, a private dining room, and an al fresco terrace. Over in London Victoria, Michelin star chef and restaurateur Jason Atherton has launched his New York-Italian style restaurant, bar and deli, Hai Cenato, which translates in Italian as ‘have you had dinner? Menu highlights include the pheasant risotto, and, if you've got space left, the warm brioche salted caramel gelato sandwich.

 

London

Three London restaurants made the list in this year's World's 50 Best Restaurants awards - The Clove Club at number 26, The Ledbury at 27, and Heston Blumenthal's Dinner rose from 45 to 36. Blumenthal also received a lifetime achievement award in recognition of his pioneering cooking techniques.

Exciting news for Downton Abbey fans! George Porchester, heir to Highclere Castle (the real-life Downton Abbey), has opened his first London restaurant, Jules, in Putney. The all-day brasserie is open Tuesday to Sunday, serving tapas-style dishes such cod brandade with roast green peppers.

 

New big name chef openings

Renowned chef Monica Galetti - recognisable as one of the MasterChef: The Professionals TV judges - has opened her first restaurant Mere, on Charlotte Street, with sommelier husband David Galetti. Named after Monica's mother Mary, the restaurant serves an á la carte menu, lunch menu, vegetarian tasting menu, and a classic tasting menu featuring the likes of lamb rump with confit belly, white onion, turnips and manuka honey.

Martha Ortiz, chef-patron of Mexico City's award-winning Dulce Patria - heralded as one of Latin America's most exciting restaurants - has brought her celebrated Mexican cuisine to London with her new restaurant, Ella Canta, at the InterContinental London Park Lane. Dishes on the menu include white fish ceviche topped with creamy hibiscus flower, piquin chile, cinnamon and pickled vegetables, accompanied by rare mezcal and tequilas.

Just opened in Camden Market, Middle Eastern restaurant Zala is the brainchild of brothers-in-law Alon Shamir and Tomer Niv, serving authentic meze, Levantine pizzas, pitas and grilled meats. Niv was previously a chef at Heston Blumenthal's acclaimed three-Michelin-star restaurant, The Fat Duck.

 

Summer hangouts

Enjoy the milder spring and summer temperatures with refreshing cocktails and light bites at one of these alfresco summer pop-ups in the city.

Sip on a watermelon martini among palm trees and California-style surroundings at the new Roof Deck Restaurant and Bar at Selfridges. Its all-day menu features salads, grains, fresh fish and seafood, including tuna ceviche with avocado and coriander. Popping up in Fulham from 10 May until 3 October is Neverland London, with its mix of street food, music, palm trees, beach huts, deckchairs, beer pong, a sandy beach and a bring-your-own alcohol policy. From 24 May to 3 October, west London's largest alfresco street food dining and drinking space, Pergola Paddington Central, will be in full swing. From burgers and Beijing-style dumpling to vegan and gluten-free salads, the food is affordable and delicious, and comes with a side order of drinks and live DJs - but its best to reserve a spot in advance.

 

Comfort food cravings

The capital's love of meaty, American-style comfort food continues unabated. In February, Borough Market became home to the newest Hawksmoor steak restaurant, featuring the upmarket chain's classic dishes, such as roast scallops with white port and garlic - and excellent steaks, of course. Head Chef Simon Cotterill will create a weekly Market Specials menu, and the downstairs Cook's Room can be hired as a private dining room.

Monty's Deli, the Jewish-American-style deli that started as a market stall, has opened its first permanent site in east London's Hoxton after exceeding its crowdfunding target on the website Kickstarter. Monty's serves breakfast with bottomless coffee, plus lunch, dinner and brunch, a ‘bagel of the week', and traditional Shabbat dinner with challah bread, chicken soup, roast chicken and lokshen pudding.

The work of Texan chef Ashley Harris and Tennessee native, Jordan Harris, newly opened Stagolee's in Fulham serves southern American-style comfort food alongside moonshine drinks. Expect dishes including skillet chicken dipped in buttermilk, fried and baked macaroni and cheese, and the ‘Mountain-rita' - a margarita using moonshine instead of tequila.

After three years of touring the country, gourmet street food chip brand Saucy Chip has a new permanent home in London's Jerusalem Bar and Kitchen in Fitzrovia, with 20 different varieties of sauces from around the world on offer, and fans including Prince Harry and model Cara Delevingne. Meanwhile, travelling cheese shrine, The Cheese Truck, has also found a permanent home in The Cheese Bar, Camden. Its menu includes the Cropwell Bishop Stilton sandwich with bacon and pear chutney, plus new additions such as the Mexican fondue-inspired Queso Fundido.

Get stoked at newly opened The Stoke House in Victoria's Nova complex, which gives the traditional self-service carvery a modern update. Diners pay by weight for a selection of meat cooked in a wood-fired smoker, including smoked Suffolk beef short rib, whole roast chickens and pork brioche with fennel apple slaw and apple sauce - plus sides including smoked cauliflower cheese and pulled pork beans.

 

New bars on the block

Fancy a Coyote Ugly-style bar top performance with your burger and bourbon? Then head down to newly opened Dirty Harry's on Soho's Wardour Street, where Harry's Honeys perform expertly choreographed routines on the bar nightly. There are 44 types of beer to choose from, alongside cocktails and a different street food residency every three months. Or for a more refined, intimate vibe, slip away to Fortnum & Mason's new 3 and 6 Bar, located on the third floor of the store's gentlemen's department. Enjoy classic cocktails such as Martinis and Negronis as well as whisky, tequila and wine, and refuel with classic English snacks including Welsh rarebit, steak tartare, and treacle tart.

In May, Jason Atherton's Michelin-starred restaurant and bar, City Social, aims to revolutionise cocktail drinking with the launch of Mirage, the world's first augmented reality cocktail menu, involving smartphone app technology that immerses the drinker in a world of interactive art. Intriguing!

The impressive wine cellar at master sommelier and restaurateur Xavier Rousset's newly opened Comptoir Café & Wine is home to an incredible 1,000 wines from across the globe, and customers can even book a private tasting for up to 30 people. Cheers!

 

Asian flavours

New all-day Japanese restaurant Machiya takes its name from a style of wooden townhouse, and focuses on traditional Japanese home cooking. The menu includes tapas-style dishes known as kobachi, and a dish called gyukatsu - panko breadcrumb-crusted wagyu steak lightly fried until rare. There is also a downstairs bar whipping up delicious Japanese-style cocktails.

Menu options at Soho's new upmarket Taiwanese restaurant Xu, created by the team behind hugely popular Bao, include bar snacks, a stuffed chicken sharing dish (‘sho pa chicken') and street food-inspired pancakes filled with 40-day aged beef short rib, marrow and pickles. Also newly launched in Soho is Bun House, inspired by the tea houses and street stalls of 1960s Hong Kong. Its authentic Chinese menu features sticky barbeque pork belly, lamb, chicken, fish and vegetarian buns, alongside other small dishes - and its downstairs Tea Room is open until 3am.

Aimed at the luxury market, with a dramatic, modern vibe, is newly opened Ginza Onodera in St James's. Diners can choose to eat from the full menu or sit at one of three counters specialising in either sushi, robata (barbecued skewers) or teppenyaki - the theatrical Japanese cooking style using a hot plate. Dishes include the likes of Kobe beef robata yaki, served with a red miso truffle sauce, or a 15-hour slow-cooked duck confit with red cabbage, marinated in orange vinegar.

 

Happy health food

Newly launched healthy, casual eatery Maple & King's in King's Cross is the second site from founder, nutritional expert and chef Adria Wu, who is passionate about healthy, filling and flavourful food - from tasty breakfasts and colourful salads for lunch, to weekend brunch featuring gluten-free rhubarb pomegranate oat pancakes with coconut yoghurt. Maple & King's also has a gluten-free bake shop, selling treats such as vegan muffins and caramel brownies.

Healthy fast food chain Leon has a new restaurant, and it's got a showbiz twist. Leon West End on Shaftesbury Avenue serves the full Leon menu, but as homage to its theatre land neighbours, the team is made up of drama and musical theatre students who will burst into classic West End songs while they serve customers their tasty salad boxes, wraps, coffees and snacks. Meanwhile, omnivores will be pleased to hear that Pret a Manger has opened its second vegetarian-only store, Veggie Pret, in Shoreditch, with 20 new recipes on offer including a vegan macaroni cheese, a green smoothie breakfast bowl, and a vegan chocolate brownie. The first vegetarian Pret opened in Soho last year after thousands of customers requested more meat-free items in an online poll.

 

More tasty openings...

In May, popular Peruvian restaurant Señor Ceviche will open its second site - complete with a basement Pisco-focused cocktail bar - on Charlotte Street. There will be the familiar favourites from its original Carnaby Street restaurant, as well as new dishes like slow-cooked short rib with aji panca and pickled garlic anticucho sauce, plus a new weekend brunch featuring bottomless Pisco Punch.

Also in May, Duck & Waffle is hatching a new casual restaurant, Duck & Waffle Local, at St James's Market, offering the same duck-centric menu - including The Duck Burger and even a duck jam doughnut - but with speedier service. Talking of waffles, Bubblewrap has a new permanent home in Chinatown and is taking Instagram by storm with its Hong Kong street food-style fresh egg waffles that look like giant bubble wrap, covered in indulgent toppings - you can choose from 14 flavours and nine sauces!

For those who can't bear to part with their four-legged friend while they brunch, M Victoria St has the answer! With its new Six Legs brunch menu, canine diners can chow down on a Four Legs feast of bacon and peanut butter cookies with dried chicken livers, while their owners enjoy bacon and peanut butter waffles, sautéed chicken liver, and steak salad.

 

Scotland

GLASGOW

In early May, hugely popular Canadian coffee giant Tim Hortons is opening its first European site in Glasgow, and bringing its signature Timbit bite-sized doughnuts with it. Founded in 1964, the chain now has 4,700 sites in Canada, the United States, and the Middle East - and plans to roll out in other British cities later this year.

The top floor of the city's iconic Rotunda complex has a new relaxed rooftop Mediterranean restaurant and bar, Mezze. Diners can choose from sharing plates featuring Scottish seafood, whole chargrilled sea bream and kebabs cooked fresh to order, served alongside stunning views of the River Clyde.

ST ANDREWS

The iconic Seafood Restaurant in St Andrews, overlooking the North Sea, has reopened as The Seafood Ristorante and now serves seafood dishes with an Italian twist, such as red mullet with pepperonata and aubergine, as well as a dedicated vegetarian menu.

 

Wales

NORTH WALES

After its February relaunch, The Swan at Hay hotel in Hay-on-Wye, owned by Calum Milne of acclaimed luxury hotel Llangoed Hall, has a new restaurant. Run by head chef Jerry Adam, the Garden Room Restaurant's nine-course tasting menu and classic dinner menu showcase Welsh ingredients in modern dishes that are light on carbs but full of flavour and sweet and savoury Asian influences.

Eight months after its September opening, Palé Hall, the luxury hotel and restaurant overseen by former Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines, has become the first in North Wales to receive a five star AA rating.

CARDIFF

Ahoy there! In May, a new California-inspired seafood restaurant, Seafood Shack, is opening in Cardiff, serving fresh seafood dishes in nautical-themed surroundings, as well as a selection of burgers, steaks and chicken. The restaurant will feature an oyster and Champagne bar, a self-serve salad bar and a Victorian-style fish and chip bar, including a take-out option. The Cardiff restaurant will be the first for the brand, which is looking to open up more sites in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Bath and Bristol.

Cardiff has also welcomed Asador 44, a specialist northern Spanish restaurant serving meat, fish and vegetables, all chargrilled and slow cooked over charcoal and wood, including dry-aged sharing steaks and legs of lamb.

Premier League football star and Welshman Gareth Bale, who plays for Wales and Real Madrid, is set to open a new a sports bar and restaurant, Elevens Bar & Grill, on Cardiff's Castle Street, which will offer live sport in a relaxed, family-friendly environment with a grill-based menu. The opening, set for early summer this year, will coincide with Cardiff hosting the UEFA Champions League Final on 3 June.

 

South-east England

On 3 May French Champagne house Tattinger is launching the planting stage of its new English sparkling wine, Domaine Evermond, in the fields of its Kent vineyard, which has been chosen for its chalky soil. The first bottles are expected to be ready in five years' time. Cheers to that!

WINDSOR

Dine in luxury within sight of Windsor Castle on a river cruise aboard Bateaux Windsor's glass-sided boat The Melody, which now embarks on scheduled cruises between 90 minutes and two and a half hours. Choose from three-course lunches, afternoon tea, Sunday lunches and five-course dinners. The Melody can also be hired for private events.

Newly opened posh pub, The Oxford Blue, in Old Windsor, uses some of the best suppliers in the country for its hybrid menu of modern French cuisine alongside more rustic fare, such as ale-braised short rib of beef.

BRIGHTON AND HOVE

Just-opened Etch, in Hove, is the first restaurant of MasterChef: The Professionals 2013 winner Steven Edwards. This elegant restaurant will serve a choice of two weekly-changing tasting menus and also has a private dining room.

Meanwhile, Tom Griffiths, the chef behind popular Brighton pop-up, Flank, is opening a new permanent restaurant in Brighton's Lanes, Pascere - which takes its name from the Latin word for ‘graze'. Griffiths is as passionate about the service as the food, which will include dishes such as braised lamb pappardelle.

 

West Midlands

BIRMINGHAM

Gaucho has opened a new steakhouse on the corner of Church Street and Colmore Row. The upmarket chain is known for its glamorous decor and plush black and white leather booths - and, of course, excellent steaks.

Yorks Bakery has opened its new café at Birmingham's Ikon gallery on Oozells Square, serving breakfast favourites, 20-inch sharing pizzas, roasted coffee and craft beers on tap. Last year, Yorks' existing café was named by The Sunday Times "as one of the best places in Britain to brunch." The new café owners also plan to bring more nightlife to the square in the form of live outdoor entertainment and an evening food menu.

 

Yorkshire

YORK

Tours in a Dish is a new food and history tour company in York offering a different take on the historical city. Starting at 1pm, the Afternoon Tea Tour of York runs for three hours and 30 minutes and includes visits to five establishments, with lots of food, tea and history along the way.

 

HARROGATE

Critically acclaimed restaurant Norse is moving in to its first permanent home in Harrogate following a crowdfunding campaign on the website Kickstarter. Its Nordic-inspired lunch and dinner dishes include lamb with parsley root and seaweed, and clementine with chocolate and pine.

 

LEEDS

In June, contemporary Chinese restaurant group Tattu is opening its second site in Leeds, following its successful original Manchester restaurant. Tattu's food features twists on traditional Cantonese-style cuisine, such as a sweet soy sticky short-rib. Tattu Manchester features cheery blossom trees inside the restaurant, while the new Leeds site will incorporate white roses into its sleek décor.

 

North-west England

MANCHESTER

New chef patron Adam Reid has re-opened The French at The Midland Hotel with a slick new look and a six and nine-course dinner tasting menu, with dishes such as steamed buns filled with soy-cooked pork belly and, for dessert, pink rhubarb custard tart with malt ice cream, alongside an á la carte lunch menu.

Abode Manchester hotel's new all-day Brasserie Abode, designed in the style of a grand European café and bar, serves menu options such as truffle cauliflower macaroni and rice pudding with sour cherry compote. The venue is open until the early hours, with DJs and a cocktail bar.

Over on the borders of Merseyside and Lancashire is newly opened luxury restaurant with rooms, Moor Hall. Its British modern cooking uses produce from the five-acre grounds for its evening tasting menu and three or four course lunch menus. The restaurant even has its own cheese room! This summer will see the opening of Moor Hall's restored medieval barn, with an informal restaurant upstairs and, below, a dairy, a dry ageing room for meat, a bakery and a microbrewery.

 

South-west England

COTSWOLDS

This April, luxury Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa Chippenham, near Bath, re-launched its Michelin-star restaurant, Restaurant Hywel Jones by Lucknam Park. The new selection of three eight-course tasting menus, alongside an à la carte menu, with dishes such as braised fillet of turbot, hand rolled macaroni and buttered crab - and also a vegetarian tasting menu.

Restaurant with rooms, The Bower House, also opened this month in the market town of Shipston-on-Stour on the edge of the Cotswolds. With gastro-pub prices, and a modern British menu with a French twist. Dishes include a fresh crab and pea panna cotta starter, and a dark chocolate fondant dessert with walnut semifreddo and nougatine.

CORNWALL

Due to open summer 2017 is Cornucopia, a food and drink family visitor attraction at St Austell Bay Retail and Leisure Park. It will be home to Britain's first Cornish pasty heritage centre where visitors will be able to try pasty-making, alongside specialist Cornish food demonstrations, exhibits and events.

EXETER, DEVON

The founders of popular Venetian-inspired sharing plate restaurant, Polpo, have just opened their first site in Exeter, which will be the first Polpo to serve a full breakfast and coffee menu to eat in or takeaway. Other dishes include roast stuffed pork with lentils and radicchio, and tiramisu pots.

 

BRISTOL

Polpo's founders are opening a second Spuntino restaurant in Bristol at the new harbour-side Cargo 2 shipping development. Spuntino means ‘snack' in Italian, and dishes are Italian-inspired New York comfort food, such as lobster mac and cheese. Also joining Cargo 2 will be acclaimed chef Josh Eggleton, with his second Salt & Malt fish and chip shop and its signature gluten-free fish and chips.