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1863 Bar and Bistro, Penrith, for Virgin Trains foodie feature

Ten great foodie adventures around the UK

Avoid that tired takeaway. Virgin Trains are removing their Friday afternoon restrictions this summer, opening up a whole world of weekend eating options

By Time Out in association with Virgin Trains
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London is justifiably regarded as one of the planet’s greatest places to eat. Even gastronomic snob-types with bits of oeuf en cocotte stuck to their elephant cords have to admit that the capital really can dish it out and take it. From poké to Polish, and hoppers to Hungarian, London absorbs culinary influences, reinvents them and spits them back out (figuratively speaking).

This is the city that pioneered the gastropub, put veganism on the street and into the lunchbreak, and dragged the steakhouse out of the ’70s. Do you always make the most of it, though? No. No you don’t. So this weekend, avoid the foodie walk of shame, as you stagger home clutching your kebab of despair. Virgin Trains are removing their Friday afternoon peak restrictions this summer, meaning you can get out of town for less and grab a bite to eat in, ooh, say Blackpool. Or Brum, or lots of places. Bon appétit! (That’s French for ‘There’s more to life than lamb rogan josh, cash on delivery.’) 

Do not reuse, Cail Bruich, Glasgow for Virgin Trains foodie feature
Photo: Keith Gooderham

1. Cail Bruich, Glasgow

Ha ha, bet you thought there was going to be some snidey reference to deep-fried pizza or something when it came to Glasgow. No way. Cail Bruich (Gaelic for ‘eat well’) marries urban sophistication with the exceptional produce of the Highlands and Islands. As a final stereotype-buster, it even offers a vegetarian tasting menu. 

725 Great Western Rd, Glasgow. www.cailbruich.co.uk
Rail: Glasgow Central.

2. Drapers Hall, Shrewsbury

Not many businesses can boast that they were established in 1485, but Shrewsbury is nothing if not historic, and Drapers Hall perfectly embodies that. A fine dining menu typically features roe deer, Welsh sea bass and Shropshire lamb. The all-English cheeseboard is not to be missed.

10 St Mary’s Place, Shrewsbury. www.drapers-hall.co.uk.
Rail: Shrewsbury.

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The Golden Cross, Coventry, for virgin trains foodie feature
Photo: Ben Sutherland/Flickr

3. The Golden Cross, Coventry

We’re not food snobs. We love a pie and a pint. Coventry’s Golden Cross has been dishing up both for more than 400 years in a beautiful half-timbered building that survived the city’s terrible bombing in WWII. Ace pub grub (all gluten-free!) is complemented with real ale, a ‘gin of the month’ and a bit of attitude: ‘We don’t do Sky, we don’t do BT Sport’ they boast. Bravo!

8 Hay Lane, Coventry. www.thegoldencrosscoventry.co.uk.
Rail: Coventry.

Raja Monkey, Birmingham, for Virgin Trains foodie feature

4. Raja Monkey, Birmingham

Home of the balti, Birmingham is a curry cosmopolis. Its ruby merchants range from the insanely opulent to the cheap and cheerless, with some spectacular South Asian food en route. Raja Monkey in the ‘Balti Triangle’ has an atypical Indian street-foody vibe and a refreshingly un-curry-house feel. Most importantly, its food is great. 

1355 Stratford Rd, Birmingham. www.rajamonkey.co.uk.
Rail: Birmingham New St.

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5. The Mad Hunter, Preston

What’s in a name? Preston’s The Mad Hunter has a springbok skull as its logo, but don’t expect lumps of meat. The menu has lots of fusion food and Asian influences, and the dining room is all laidback conviviality. You can even eat outside, Lancastrian weather conditions permitting. 

Garstang Rd, St Michael’s-on-Wyre, Preston. www.themadhunter.co.uk.
Rail: Preston.

1863 Bar and Bistro, Penrith, for Virgin Trains foodie feature
Photo: D&H Photographers

6. 1863, Penrith

Once a forge, then the post office, 1863 is now a posh B&B at the top of Ullswater in the Lake District. If you’re open-mouthed at the scenery, make the most of the opportunity and indulge in something from 1863’s super-luxe bistro menu, such as local Herdwick lamb, or Jerusalem artichoke with ‘hen of the woods’ (a polypore mushroom, as you probably know).

Elm House, Pooley Bridge, Penrith. www.1863ullswater.co.uk.
Rail: Penrith North Lakes.

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The Seahorse, Llandudno, for Virgin Trains foodie feature

7. The Seahorse, Llandudno

On the mainland opposite the magical island of Anglesey, Llandudno’s Seahorse is a North Wales institution. When its owners considered selling-up last year, customers persuaded them to change their mind, and the story made the papers. Local seafood is the speciality and you’d be mad not to have the lobster.

7 Church Walks, Llandudno.
www.the-seahorse.co.uk

Rail: Bangor.

Forage and Chatter, for Virgin Trains foodie campaign

8. Forage and Chatter, Edinburgh

If you can stomach the rather arch name of this excellent Edinburgh eatery, you should have no problem with the food. F&C reflects the Nordic influences on Scottish culture and cuisine with a menu of top-class meat and fish, elevated with ingredients such as seaweed, wild garlic and honeycomb. 

1a Alva St, Edinburgh. www.forageandchatter.com
Rail: Edinburgh.

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9. The loft at Buzzards Valley, Tamworth

You can make a day of it in Buzzards Valley: take a tour of the vineyard, fish in the lakes and dine in the bistro. It’s a green and pleasant setting for super-fresh produce prepared straight from the farm, washed down with some quality English wines. Sort of place that elicits a contentented ‘Ahhhh’. 

37 Shirrall Drive, Tamworth. buzzards-valley.co.uk
Rail: Tamworth

Yorkshire Fisheries, Blackpool - for Virgin Trains foodie feature
Photo: 70023venus2009/Flickr

10. Yorkshire Fisheries, Blackpool

A bit like the balti olympics in Brum, fish ’n’ chip competition is stiff in the spiritual home of British seaside culture. Oddly for a town so proudly Lancastrian, Blackpool’s oldest, best-loved and highest-regarded chippy is Yorkshire Fisheries. Mushy peas, pies and saveloys: present. Queue selfies, no-bookings pub texts and capital ’tude – not. 

16 Topping St, Blackpool. www.yorkshirefisheries.co.uk
Rail: Blackpool North.

Find more travel info and book train tickets at virgintrains.co.uk/summer.

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