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The UK’s best restaurants in 2018, and their wine lists

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants were revealed on Monday night, with just four UK venues — all in London — making it into the list.


Brett Graham, head chef of The Ledbury

Hosted at Euskalduna Conference Centre and Concert Hall in Bilbao, 1,000 guests descended upon the palace to find out the results from 50 to one – rankings from 100 to 51 were revealed earlier in June.

New entries included London’s Lyle’s at 38, headed up by James Lowe, Solvenia’s Hiša Franko led by Chef’s Table star Ana Ros at 48, and Istanbul’s Mikla at 44. Barcelona’s Disfrutar was the highest début at 18.

Just four UK restaurants made it into the list this year, all of which are in London, all of which have wine lists noteworthy for everything from their exotic offerings to their powerful storytelling.

We’ve raided the archives of our Wine List Confidential guide to profile the top UK restaurants.

From Notting Hill to Hoxton, these are the most cutting edge restaurants in London right now.

4. Dinner by Heston, Knightsbridge, London

Standout dish: Meat Fruit, mandarin, chicken liver parfait and grilled bread

Glass of wine from: £8.50 (150ml)

With a focus on British history, Each dish is dated and referenced in a bibliography on the menu for gastro geeks to fawn over.

It is home to Meat Fruit, one of the most iconic and generation-defining dishes in London’s fine dining scene — a smooth, delicately-flavoured chicken liver parfait dipped in a subtly zesty mandarin jelly, made to look like a piece of fruit.

While it’s only the third-best in London, Heston Blumenthal’s avant garde venue at the Mandarin Oriental has one of the best wine lists in the 50 Best ranking, at least according to our team at Wine List Confidential, which has been revamped to be “in tune with the historic dishes” the restaurant is famous for.

“Every wine on the list has a story,” says Austrian sommelier and wine buyer, Stefan Neumann MS.

Classic regions are well represented, and Neumann’s sense of adventure shining through with the inclusion of Turkish Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Sauvignon Gris and even Cabernet Sauvignon from China by the glass.

3. The Ledbury, Notting Hill, London

Standout dish: Warm bantam’s egg, celeriac, arbois, dried ham and black truffle

Glass of wine from: £9

Opened by Aussie chef Brett Graham in 2005 when he was just 25 years old, The Ledbury regularly makes it into foodie rankings from Waitrose’s UK restaurant guide to Michelin (it has held two stars since 2012).

Graham is a “great talker”, according to the judges, with a passion for all things trendy from rearing livestock to relaxed service. While the head chef is not one for the limelight, his menu of modern British dishes never fails to disappoint. the severn course tasting menu features off-beat but masterful dishes like white Beetroot baked in clay, caviar salt and smoked eel, roasted scallop with liquorice, and a brown sugar tart for afters, all accompanied by a wine list which shows an “understanding of the relevance of food-friendly acidity,” according to Wine List Confidential’s Douglas Blyde.

“£50-60 per bottle seems to be a sweet-spot, where you might have clos encounters with Clemens Busch Mosel Riesling, Moment of Silence (Blank Bottle), Veneto Carmenere (Più, Inama), and biodynamic Bordeaux (Château Falfas).”

2. Lyle’s, Shoreditch, London

Standout dish: Peas and spenwood

Glass of wine from: £5 (125ml)

Shoreditch is the place to see and be seen if you want to be taken seriously in the food world these days.

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list is known for honouring innovation, and Lyle’s has it in spades. There’s just one set menu for dinner, and it changes daily, but with dishes like turbot, young leeks & whey butter and sweetbreads with treacle and radish everyone should be satisfied from the thrill-seeker to the seasonal pursuer.

Head chef James Lowe has a better CV than you, working with Heston Blumenthal, St. John Bread & Wine and a longer stint at The River Café, and has combined his experiences of working with seasons and molecular gastronomy to create a unique offering in east London.

The wine list is pretty budget friendly, with a glass of Folle Blanche 2017 from Loire coming in at just £5.50. In keeping with the sense of discovery, wines are sourced everywhere from Jura to Japan.

1. The Clove Club, Hoxton, London

Standout dish: Raw Orkney scallop with perigord truffle

Glass of wine from: £ 7 (125 ml)

Coming in at a respectable 33rd place, The Clove Club may bill itself as “modern British,” but the judges admired Scottish chef Isaac McHale’s “refreshing” menu, which is “full of surprises.”

Having done time at The Ledbury McHale, along with friends Daniel Willis and Johnny Smith, used to run an experimental supper club in Shoreditch, before opening The Clove Club in 2013.

A recent entry into our own Wine List Confidential at number 39, The Clove Club’s drinks card is focused on small growers and wines of real interest with labels from lesser-known producers from Croatia to Kazakhstan.

If booze isn’t your thing (although to be honest if it isn’t, why are you here?), an ‘ambient’ tea pairing is also offered to accompany the tasting menu, which includes culinary buzzwords like Cornish sardine sashimi with smoked sardine and whiskey broth, duck and ginger consommé with century old Madeira, and apple tart tatin.

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