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The UK’s best new regional restos

Hawkyns in Amersham

Celebrity chef Atul Kochar, best known for his Michelin-starred Indian restaurant Benares in Mayfair, has opened his first modern British restaurant – Hawkyns – at The Crown Inn in Amersham. Giving a contemporary twist to British classics and championing local produce while he’s at it, among the dishes on offer are scallops with leek terrine and apple purée; Tamarind duck with salt baked celeriac; fish & chips; and barbecue guinea fowl.

The restaurant name tips its hat to Sir William Hawkins of the East India Company, commander of ‘Hector’, the first to ship to anchor at Surat in India in 1608. Steering the ship at Hawkyns will be former Benares chef Ross Bott. Once an Elizabethan coaching inn, The Crown Inn was used as the setting for Hugh Grant and Andy McDowell’s tryst in Four Weddings and a Funeral, where it was renamed The Jolly Boatman.

Tom’s Kitchen Birmingham

Flame-haired chef Tom Aikens has branched out of London with his popular Tom’s Kitchen brand via a Birmingham site that takes in a restaurant, bar and deli. Housed in The Mailbox shopping centre, Aikens’ first venue outside of the capital focuses on comfort food classics made with local, seasonal ingredients.

Expect the likes of crab cakes with cucumber salsa; truffled mac ‘n’ cheese; steak tartare; fish & chips with crushed peas; and sticky toffee pudding on the comfort front, while more refined dishes include poached monkfish with escabeche in a saffron sauce; Cornish lemon sole with caper and parsley sauce; and spiced pumpkin with burrata, savoury granola and hazelnut dressing.

Up at the bar you’ll find timeless classics like Old Fashioneds and Expresso Martinis on pour alongside retro favourites like the Brandy Alexander and Grasshopper, while the deli offers a selection of light bites to grab on the go.

Rick Stein Marlborough

Having said he’d never open a restaurant in London, seafood fiend Rick Stein has succumbed to the charms of the capital and is to open a neighbourhood restaurant overlooking the Thames in a cobbled courtyard in Barnes this year. While the site is being refurbished, he’s also found the time to open an eponymous ‘Rick Stein’ restaurant in Marlborough, Wiltshire – the third of its kind.

Nestled inside the 18th century Lloran House on the High Street, Stein offers a selection of his classic seafood dishes like Dover sole à la meunière; and turbot hollandaise; while carnivores can get their kicks from salt pork belly with split pea and sauerkraut; and baked guinea fowl with garlic beans and smoked sausage.

Michael Caines at Lympstone Manor

Having made a name for himself at Gidleigh Park in Devon, where he spent 21 years and retained two Michelin stars for an impressive 18 years, celebrity chef Michael Caines has an ambitious project planned for 2017 in the form of a sumptuous country house hotel called Lympstone Manor housed in a Grade II Georgian mansion set within 28 acres of land between Exeter and Exmouth.

Due to open in April, the former private residence has been transformed into a 21-room hotel boasting a 60-seater fine dining restaurant where Caines will serve dishes inspired by and made with ingredients from the Devon countryside. The hotel also offers three private dining rooms overlooking the Exe Estuary, where there are plans to plant a vineyard. Expect to find English wines on the list in keeping with Caines’ local ethos, which can be sampled by the glass at the hotel’s tasting room.

Galvin Green Man in Essex

Well known on the London circuit, brothers Chris and Jeff Galvin (of La Chapelle, Windows and the Athenium fame), have added to their ever-expanding empire with an Essex pub. Marking a return home for the Essex boys, the Green Man is nestled in acres of riverside meadow by the banks of the river Chelmer. Originally built in 1314, the Galvins have split the site into a traditional pub and a dining room serving gastropub classics with a seasonal twist.

At the pub you’ll find craft ales from local brewers, while the dining room serves the likes of celeriac and hazelnut soup; Galvin fish pie; wood roasted beetroots, goat’s curd and sorrel; lemon and yoghurt spatchcock chicken; and treacle tart with clotted cream. This isn’t the brothers’ first foray outside of London – they already run The Pompadour and a Brasserie de Luxe in Edinburgh and Galvin at the Centurion Club in St Albans.

Box-E Bristol

As the name suggests, Box-E is a 14-cover restaurant housed in a pair of shipping containers at the new Wapping Wharf ‘Cargo 1’ development in Bristol. The cutting edge venue’s menu changes regularly to reflect what’s in season. Currently on offer are the likes of pork rillettes, crispy pig’s ears and mustard; salt baked turnip with winter truffle (Baldrick would weep with pride); charred hispi cabbage, Cornish crab and lemon butter; pork belly with butter beans and cavolo nero; and caramelised English ricotta with blood orange and hazelnuts.

Owners Tess and Elliot Lidstone spent their life savings on a snazzy stove they named ‘Sandra’ that got the ball rolling on their lifelong dream of running a restaurant. Prior to Box-E, Elliot headed up the Bib Gourmand gastropub The Empress in east London, and it looks like he’s taken some of the most exciting elements of the London dining scene back home to Bristol. The best seats in the (tiny) house are the four up at the bar, where you can enjoy a five-course tasting menu for £45, with wine flights available for an extra £30.

Ham and Friends in Leeds

Porcine pleasure dome Friends of Ham in Leeds has won over feisty restaurant critic Jay Rayner. Specialising in all things piggy, cheesy and beery, the neighbourhood favourite is to open a wine bar-cum-restaurant and wine shop called (wait for it…) Ham and Friends – see what they did?

Due to open in April, The Leeds Wine School will host tastings within its bowels in they city’s Northern Quarter. Spread across two floors in the Grand Arcade, the site will be serve tasty small plates and a large range of boutique, ethically produced wines. Over in the deli you’ll find a dangerously tempting sounding walk-in cheese room and charcuterie counter to temp your inner piggy.

The Patricia in Jesmond


The Newcastle suburb of Jesmond has an exciting new restaurant in the form of The Patricia, the first solo venture of chef-patron Nick Grieves, who has previously chalked up stints at The River Café and Fera at Claridge’s, where he worked under Simon Rogan. Named after his grandmother, Guardian restaurant critic Marina O’Loughlin recently dubbed the ox-blood walled bistro “a little belter”.

With seating for just 30, the dinky site serves the likes of fried violet artichokes and Amalfi lemon; Epoisses and preserved cherry sarnies; chicken liver parfait and Madeira jelly on brioche; Turbot braised in Turckheim Reserve Riesling (no doubt inspired by a similar dish that made Noble Rot’s name); Galician blond Rib Eye, polenta and hen of the woods mushrooms; and chocolate mousse with hazelnuts, miso caramel and cherries.

Grey’s Brasserie at Whatley Manor

Stunning sandstone country pile Whatley Manor near Wiltshire, owned by Swiss equestrian rider Christian Landolt, has opened a new Brasserie following the arrival of Niall Keating as executive chef of the 23-bedroom manor house last month. Comfort food like smoked mussels on toast and English custard tart with nutmeg and blackcurrant sorbet will be given top billing at the informal, 50-seater Grey’s Brasserie, with a full refurb of the Swiss chalet style eaterie planned for August.

Meanwhile, the menu at the more formal Dining Room has been revamped and now includes a 12-course tasting menu for £99 or £169 with matching wines. Keating has big shoes to fill, as the restaurant won two stars under former executive chef Martin Burge. Among his new creations are chicken fat custard, tamari, caviar; brown butter and buttermilk; mackerel with preserved raspberry; cod, chicken broth and fermented turnip; salted rhubarb, umeshu, shiso; and chocolate, caramel and crème fraiche.

The Oxford Blue in Windsor

Former Clare Smyth protégé, Steven Ellis, has opened a solo venture in Windsor after a decade of working with some of the biggest and best names in the business at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen.

Originally two game keepers cottages, The Oxford Blue has roots stretching back to the 1800s and has served the local community in Windsor in various guises ever since. Pushing itself as an adult restaurant (via a slightly harsh ‘no kids allowed’ message on its website), Ellis specialises in comfort food with a contemporary twist.

Working predominantly with local, seasonal ingredients, you can expect the likes of game foie gras with bone marrow and truffle vinaigrette; braised suckling pig’s trotter with black pudding, apple and sauce gribiche; pigeon with braised lentils, foie gras, walnuts and smoked bacon; and Earl Grey soufflé with biscuit ice cream. 

The Theatre Kitchen in Nottingham

Ye Olde Bell hotel in the Nottinghamshire village of Barnby Moor has had a makeover in the form of a shiny new restaurant headed up by chef Richard Allen, who also doubles as a qualified personal trainer and nutrition expert. Based around an open kitchen, The Theatre Kitchen taps into Allen’s love of fitness via superfood salads and Asian-inspired broths made with fresh local produce. Those seeking heartier bites can get their lips around perfectly pink hunks of Dexter beef; or lemon sole, broccoli, broad beans and saffron.

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