Make 2016 the year you dine out in style, as Helen Milbank discovers what’s on the menu at some of the UK’s finest restaurants
We Brits have spent the past 20 years dispelling the cliché that our food is lacking and we’re a nation obsessed by fish and chips. Nowadays, our chefs are seen as some of the leading lights in the world of fine cuisine, with the likes of Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay renowned globally not only for their dishes, but for their restaurants, which have become as big of a pull in places such as London and Cambridge, as some of their best-known attractions.
Gone are the days when tourists flocked to our greatest cities purely to see the architecture and shops. Now they go with a particular restaurant in mind, headed by a celebrity chef who’s often a bigger name than the TV or film stars who might frequent his eatery.
We’re lucky to live in a country that has such easy access to a meal cooked by Gordon, Jamie, or one of the other multi Michelin-starred chefs who have helped shape British cuisine.
It’s become a day out in itself to visit one of the country’s top restaurants and we at Group Travel World say bring on the dry-aged rib-eye steak (you can order with a side of triple-cooked chips at one of Jamie’s Italians, see www.jamieoliver.com/italian).
Good Food Guaranteed
He’s the guy who’s fronted Kitchen Nightmares, Hell’s Kitchen, Hotel Hell and MasterChef US, and he’s lauded for being a little foul-mouthed, but there’s no denying that Gordon Ramsay knows how to throw a recipe together, and if your group is after a memorable dining experience, a trip to one of his 14 restaurants is guaranteed to please even the pickiest of foodies.
South West London’s swanky Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is the chef’s flagship eatery. It has three much-coveted Michelin stars and is a tourist attraction in itself, led by Head Chef Clare Smyth and featuring such delicacies as pan-fried sea scallops from the Isle of Skye with heritage apples, walnuts, celery and cider emulsion.
It goes without saying that booking for groups needs to be done well in advance. There’s also the much-loved Maze in London’s Grosvenor Square, or one of the many other restaurants in the chain (www.gordonramsayrestaurants.com).
Dine At The Bad House!
Here at Group Travel World we love the upmarket Malmaison chain – which, roughly translated, means ‘bad house’ – and if you dine at the Oxford hotel you’ll get a true sense of the moniker.
Housed in the city’s former jail, the building was originally a medieval castle, though any hint of its troubled past has now vanished beneath the hotel’s plush décor.
The Brasserie serves a range of classic dishes, and we can personally vouch for the cocktails. If your group wants to make a night of it, the hotel’s rooms and suites – which until the mid-1990s, were still home to those housed at Her Majesty’s pleasure – are now more boutique than basic.
Find out more at www.malmaison.com/locations/oxford.
Head north of the jail-house capers of Malmaison’s Oxford hotel, and groups in search of a fine dining experience can check in to the chain’s Glaswegian offering. Housed in a former Greek Orthodox church in the centre of the city, Malmaison Glasgow is home to critically acclaimed restaurant The Honours.
Here, top chef Martin Wishart – who was crowned AA Chefs’ Chef of the Year in 2010 and 2011, and who trained under Marco Pierre White and Albert Roux – is on hand to create his signature dishes.
Find out more at www.malmaison.com/locations/glasgow.
Views of Edinburgh Castle and impeccably cooked food are on the menu for visitors to James Thomson’s award-winning rooftop restaurant above the National Museum of Scotland.
The Tower Restaurant offers afternoon tea, an à la carte menu, brunch, and cocktails and more, all served with James’ hallmark decadence. Scotland’s best-known restaurateur, he launched the much-loved Witchery by the Castle restaurant back in the 1970s, and acquired the Tower in the late 1990s.
It’s since become a popular destination for discerning diners keen to take in the fine food and fabulous views over the city, and the restaurant has received plaudits from Michelin, The Good Food Guide and many others.
The menu features Bucchleuch beef, lobsters and scallops from the Western Isles, smoked fish from Inverawe and game, while its lunch menu is popular with groups – and is great value at just £18.95 for two courses.
Wine lovers will prick up their ears when they learn that the restaurant has been awarded the much-coveted Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. Its 150 wines from 14 countries will be plenty to keep even the fussiest of connoisseurs happy as they sip a glass on the restaurant’s trademark balcony.
It might be worth planning a trip to the National Museum of Scotland while you’re there. Find out more at www.tower-restaurant.com and www.nms.ac.uk.