A restaurant run by prisoners in Cardiff, a 100% plant-based eatery in Bath and a medieval friary in Newcastle are today announced as being among the best restaurants in the UK right now, according to Time Out.
The EAT List by Time Out ranks the best restaurants in more than 50 cities worldwide. To compile the annual EAT Lists for cities around the UK, from Aberdeen to Brighton via London and York, Time Out editors and contributing writers have crisscrossed the country to dine their way through hundreds of restaurants. The lists celebrate the very best places to eat in these cities right now, from cheap and innovative new restaurants to fine dining establishments.
Trends brought to light by The EAT List include the ever-growing appeal of plant-based restaurants for vegetarians, vegans and meat-eaters alike; the focus on provenance at a number of the top spots, with chefs regularly updating menus to work with seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients; and the popularity of small and medium plates, encouraging sharing and enjoying a meal together – though the lists in many cities still include top-notch tasting menus for celebrations and special occasion blow-outs.
James Manning, Global Projects Editor at Time Out, says: “The Time Out EAT List reflects the way people across the UK (and the world) love to eat right now, from classic curry houses to hip vegan joints. We prize the places that combine great cooking with atmosphere and service, with an unashamed bias towards great-value restaurants you’ll want to visit again and again. There has never been a better time to dine out in the UK, and this is your essential guide to the best spots for every occasion.
“At Time Out, we’ve eaten our way through countless restaurants for more than 50 years on our quest to discover the best of the city. Time Out’s recommendations are made by expert, independent local writers and our reviewers visit anonymously and pay their way. It's a given that for a venue to make one of Time Out’s recommended lists the food has to be amazing, but we're looking for a whole eating experience that’s truly memorable."
Time Out, the global media and leisure brand that has helped people go out better since 1968, today curates the best things to do in 327 cities in 58 countries.
From A-Z by city, Time Out’s number one restaurants around the UK are:
- Aberdeen – Nargile
An Aberdeen institution, Nargile is home to delicious Turkish cuisine, with highlights including the meze platter, baklava and impressive vegetarian dishes – a perhaps surprising addition to the kebab-heavy menu. It is a popular spot to visit before a show at Her Majesty’s Theatre.
- Bath – Acorn
Vegans, vegetarians and meat-lovers alike will need to book ahead for this 100% plant-based, 100% delicious restaurant’s affordable set lunch menu or the highly-Instagrammable five-course taster menu.
- Belfast – James St
This contemporary restaurant with a focus on classic cooking is perfect for special occasions, with dedicated graduation and pre-theatre menus packed with fresh game, steaks and fish, followed by a range of dessert cocktails including a lemon meringue martini.
- Birmingham – Adam's
Michelin-starred Adam’s had humble beginnings as a pop-up in a former sandwich shop in 2013. Now it has a cult-like following, taking diners on a contemporary fine dining adventure with its eight-course menu featuring Orkney scallops and Anjou pigeon with wine pairings.
- Brighton – Food For Friends
An award-winning vegetarian restaurant in the South Lanes specialising in dishes to be shared with the whole table, Food For Friends has become as much of a hit with meat-eaters as vegetarians. From porcini mushroom arancini and king oyster ‘scallops’ to tarka dahl and bao buns, there is something for everyone here.
- Bristol – The Ox
A go-to joint for steak and cocktails, The Ox is cosy but upmarket despite its location below a Wetherspoons. For cheaper eats, guests should visit between 5pm and 7pm Monday to Saturday to enjoy a 6oz rump steak, fries, sauce and a glass of house wine for just £15.
- Cambridge – Trinity
This high-end venue will give visitors a taste for the high life: think champagne, oysters, meat, game and more. It is a popular spot for those celebrating their academic achievements and other special occasions.
- Cardiff – The Clink
The Clink can be found at HMP Cardiff, where prisoners training to work in the hospitality industry turn top quality local Welsh produce into fine dining dishes. Run by The Clink Charity, this isn’t just a place to eat great food, it is a place that is doing great things too.
- Edinburgh – Aizle
Since opening in 2014, Chef Stuart Ralston and front-of-house Krystal Goff have been purveyors of the ‘bistronomy’ concept, showcasing a tasting menu featuring fresh local food in an informal atmosphere, where the latest ingredients Chef Ralston will be working with are detailed on the wall.
- Glasgow – Alchemilla
Local restaurateur Fergus McVicar and former Ottolenghi chef Rosie Healey set up this seriously cool Glasgow spot that looks as good as the food tastes. The Mediterranean-inspired small and medium sharing plates are ever-changing, with a menu based on what’s fresh and available, including shaved kohlrabi, fennel and herbs and sea bass carpaccio, orange and chilli.
- Leeds – Aagrah
Part of a Yorkshire chain, this legendary curry house has been family-run since the late ’70s and has become a staple of the Northern dining scene. It is known for its best-in-class Kashmiri dishes, including the exceptional Hyderabadi chicken.
- Liverpool – The Art School Restaurant
Housed in an old Victorian ‘home for destitute children’, The Art School Restaurant is the perfect spot for a pre- or post-cultural meal, given its proximity to both the Liverpool Philharmonic and the Everyman theatre. Its masterfully prepared British menu includes twice-baked cheese soufflé and roast breast of Scottish grouse with thyme-scented honey.
- London – Kiln
This simple and stripped-back Soho spot serves a menu of exciting Thai barbecue dishes, with quality British-sourced meat and fish chargrilled in front of diners who brave sitting at the counter in front of the furnace. Hits include the tender, Burmese-spiced short-rib curry and the nightly specials.
- Manchester – Where The Light Gets In
Located in the loft of a restored Victorian coffee warehouse in Stockport, Where The Light Gets In is off Greater Manchester’s beaten track, but well worth the visit. Many ingredients featured on the outstanding seasonal tasting menu are sourced from the proprietors’ nearby farm, and everything is complemented by an impressive wine list and top-notch service.
- Newcastle – Blackfriars Restaurant
At Blackfriars Restaurant, diners can go full medieval-themed banquet (for large groups booking in advance) or simply enjoy fine European dining in a unique setting: a 13th-century friary. Those going all out can enjoy a whole suckling pig with all the trimmings, or simply the rare-breed pork belly, black pudding mash, leeks and apple gravy.
- Nottingham – Sat Bains
Diners might not expect to find this once-in-a-lifetime seven-course tasting experience – one of the fanciest entries in this list with two Michelin stars – on the edge of an industrial estate by the River Trent. Highlight dishes include veal croquettes and Anjou pigeon.
- Oxford – Oli’s Thai
It may be no surprise that the best restaurant in Oxford is also one of the hardest to get a table at, but it may shock some that it is a super-affordable suburban Thai spot taking the accolade. After booking weeks in advance, diners can enjoy hero dishes including a signature chickpea salad and duck massaman curry.
- Sheffield – Forge Bakehouse
Forge Bakehouse offers a creative brunch menu, monthly supper clubs and themed evenings, cocktails and more. This humble bakery is home to some of the best bread in the city, baked fresh every day next to the cafe, which makes the best bed for its Mexican-style huevos rancheros.
- Southampton – Dancing Man Brewery
Bringing the Deep South to Hampshire, brewpub and restaurant Dancing Man serves Southern-style comfort food – pickled okra and pork crackling cornbread, cherry cola-glazed wings, succotash beans and gumbo – to accompany its hoppy, house-brewed beer.
- York – Skosh
Specialising in small plates from around the world, this York restaurant invites diners to take a seat at the bar to watch chefs create dishes from Japan, the US, the Middle East and Spain. Try the buttermilk fried chicken thighs with aerated hollandaise.
To see more of the best restaurants in dozens of cities around the world, visit timeout.com/eatlist