8 of the UK’s best restaurants – as chosen by Britain’s top chefs

Secret gems and neighbourhood hideaways where chefs love to eat: from a cafe lunch in Cornwall to a tasting menu on the Scottish coast

Silk Road, London SE5

Chosen by James Cochran, chef-owner, Restaurant 1251

I’ve lived in south London for 15 years and the neighbourhood restaurant that stands out is Silk Road in Camberwell. I’m a massive fan of their Xinjiang style of Chinese cooking and they do many unusual things that you don’t normally see in Chinese restaurants in this country. I associate kebabs with Turkish or Greek food, but here they do lamb skewers which they cover in delicious Asian spices and chargrill really quickly. Their dumplings are on point as well. In fact, everything is packed full of flavour, but nicely balanced. The restaurant is very minimalistic, drinks are BYO and the food is very affordable – spend £20 and you’re full.

Inver, Strathlachan, Argyll

Chosen by James Lowe, chef and co-founder, Lyle’s and Flor

Inver is on a beautiful part of the west coast of Scotland, a couple of hours’ drive from Glasgow. It’s not over the top like some destination restaurants; there’s no desire to create theatrics. The dinner is fantastic, and it’s worth staying so you can have breakfast and its more casual lunch. We went for new year and stayed in a bothy by the water. For dinner, we had seaweed ice-cream with caviar, which was stunning, and an amazing langoustine dish with carrot. Pam Brunton and Rob Latimer run the place: she’s in the kitchen, he runs front of house. I’ve got a lot of admiration for them, because running a restaurant in a remote area is really difficult and they’ve made it work.

The Dawnay Arms, Newton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire

Chosen by Tommy Banks, head chef, Black Swan

I quite like fine dining, but I think what everybody really wants is an awesome Sunday roast and so often it’s disappointing. The Dawnay Arms is incredible. If I haven’t any got any plans for Sunday, I will be there. I’ve gone four weekends in a row before. I like to sit in the front bar because I can take my dog; first we go for a walk by the river, then call into the pub and have a roast. The Smiths run it: Martel is in the kitchen and Kerry runs the front of house. Obviously, we’re blessed up here with good produce, but they use all the best stuff. They don’t charge enough for what they do. I kind of wish I owned it myself – but then I wouldn’t want to eat there, so I suppose it’s best.


St Kew Cafe
, Bodmin, Cornwall

Chosen by Paul Ainsworth, chef-owner, Paul Ainsworth at No 6

Not far from where I live, near the St Kew highway, is a farm shop with a cafe. My wife Emma and I go there as much as we can, and every time, to our amazement, there’s a table available. It’s probably only a matter of time before more people find out about it and it becomes impossible to find a seat. It’s so welcoming – the chef will always look up and give you a wave – and the food is so consistent, even if it’s just a bacon sandwich or a full English. The ethos is to showcase everything Cornish and it uses proper sourdough bread, nice butter, great bacon. Whether avocado with poached eggs on toast or a ham sandwich, the food is brilliant every single time. I can’t believe this is just up the road. It’s fantastic.

Singburi, London E11

Chosen by Erchen Chang, co-founder, Bao and Xu

This is a neighbourhood Thai restaurant that’s cheap and fun and refreshing, and the food is just pure tasty. It’s run by a mother and son. I went a couple of months ago with a big group and we ordered the whole blackboard menu. My favourite dishes were the clam with garlic, chilli and basil, which was simple and classic; the jungle curry crab, which was really dirty and hard to eat (you have to suck on the crab); and boat noodle soup which had that really good medicinal taste from dried roots that’s hard to find in London. The interior is bare. They have some very sensual fruit posters from the 80s on the wall, and photos of customers from years and years ago eating in the restaurant. There’s not much other decoration, but I think that makes the food stand out. I’m moving quite close to Singburi, so it’s going to be my local. I can’t wait.

The Canton Arms, London, SW8

Chosen by Margot Henderson, chef and co-owner, Rochelle Canteen

This is my local, and has everything I enjoy about a pub: it’s friendly, warm and not too flashy. It’s familiar, and perfect on a rainy day. On top of that, it has great drinks and superb food. The dining room is cosy, with the most delicious menu – I always love the way it reads. Quite classic, but modern – it might have provencal beef shin. The blackboard menu has about four sharing dishes on it and they go much further than it says, which makes it great value. It’s gentle food for families and friends, served in big Le Creuset dishes, with a generous spirit.

Chesters by the River, Ambleside, Cumbria

Chosen by Simon Rogan, chef-owner, L’Enclume

On a day off, I like to go for lunch to this riverside cafe. I sit outside, relax and eat really tasty vegan and vegetarian food. The food has all sorts of influences – a bit of Moroccan, through to Chinese, biryanis, flame-grilled pizzas – but the main stars are the vegetables. It’s not doing it justice calling it a cafe, but that’s what it is. You can take away, and there’s a shop associated with it. The staff are friendly, the atmosphere is nice and the quality is great. My staff were always telling me how amazing it was, and it took me a while to get there. Now I can see why they love it

Tá Tá Eatery at Tayēr/Elementary, London EC1

Chosen by Jeremy Chan, head chef and co-owner, Ikoyi

Tá Tá Eatery is Zijun Meng and his partner Ana Gonçalves. If you took the food out of the context, which is very casual, and put it in a fine dining setting, it would stand out above everything else. Meng uses British produce with his Chinese heritage and some of Ana’s Portuguese flavour profiles in beautiful, intricate plates. I really like the way he’ll serve you pork that’s been aged 100 days, and you’re eating something he’s thought about 100 days earlier. It’s the same deep thinking you’d get in the best restaurants but he’s doing it in a cocktail bar, at a four-seater counter. They do the bar food and also a tasting menu. It’s him and a small induction hob, making these beautiful plates of food in a hectic space. It’s a bit rowdy, and it’s fun. But it’s almost showing you how hard London is as a city for entrepreneurial creative chefs like them to survive.

Source: The Guardian

Filed Under: Trends

About the Author

Passion and love for my work has helped me to explore and travel to many places all over the planet. There is an amazing amount of food variety, quality and flavor combinations out there. Here, we would like to present you with some ideas; some maybe new, some old, some healthy, some sweet, some spicy, but mostly; just simply delicious and for you to enjoy! Best Wishes and Great Dishes

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