A road trip around the new Michelin-starred restaurants outside London

A road trip around the new Michelin-starred restaurants outside London

by Tom Shingler 07 October 2016

Four days, ten restaurants, seventy courses, 827 miles – if you have money to burn, time to spare and an insatiable appetite for tasting menus and fine wine, let us help you plan a whistle-stop tour around the 2017 Michelin Guide’s new starred restaurants of the UK.

Tom Shingler is the editor of Great British Chefs.

Tom Shingler is the editor of Great British Chefs.

Book the chauffeur, shove wads of cash into the glove compartment and keep the heartburn tablets within arms reach; you’re about to embark on a culinary pilgrimage of epic proportions. It’s time to gorge upon the finest food and drink being served in the restaurants of Britain.

It would be too easy to simply saunter from Michelin-starred restaurant to Michelin-starred restaurant in London – there are sixty-four in total, and the very determined (and wealthy) gourmand could visit them all within a month. But the Michelin Guide 2017 awarded new stars to ten restaurants outside the capital, each one well worth a visit no matter where you are in the UK. So make sure you skip breakfast, jump in the backseat of your car and get ready for a stomach-distending odyssey.

Day one

Our first stop is The Tudor Room at Great Fosters in Egham, Surrey, described by the Guide as ‘an intimate hotel dining room with mullioned windows, burgundy décor and large tapestries on the walls’ – just like your holiday home in Provence. Let’s walk before we run with a humble four-course lunch, choosing from dishes such as Scallop, wakame, jamon and ponzu; Pork loin, belly, cheek and piccalilli and a cheeseboard with truffled honey on the side.

Just seventeen miles away is The Crown near Maidenhead, a family-run rustic country inn with a nod to French cuisine. The menu changes daily so it’s hard to know what to expect, but past examples include Rillettes of Lop pig with pickles, Slow-cooked salt marsh lamb with roasting juices and a White chocolate and praline cadeau to finish.

Provided you set off early enough, there’s still time to fit in one more meal (provided your driver’s willing to break a few speed limits). Take a one-hour power nap, wake up in the picturesque Cotswolds and step into The Wild Rabbit Inn in Kingham. This beautiful eighteenth century building serves unfussy modern British food of the highest calibre. It’s just down the road from Daylesford Farm Shop and the produce on offer is top notch – dishes such as Quail with Morteau sausage, confit leg and lardo raviolo or Hay-baked celeriac with truffle risotto should cure any remaining hunger pangs. Thankfully the inn also has some rooms (as does the fantastic Kingham Plough down the road), so you can heave yourself into bed and get ready for a second day of gluttony.

Courses eaten: 10

Miles travelled: 100

Day two

A two-hour drive will see you cross the border into Wales and outside the door of Restaurant James Sommerin in Penarth. James has been creating some fantastic food throughout his career and very deservedly won his first Michelin star for his beautiful eponymous restaurant overlooking the Severn Estuary. Shell out for the nine-course tasting menu to enjoy dishes such as Langoustine, ginger, artichoke and spiced butter or Carrot, basil, cheese and seed granola, washed down with the matching wine flight.

If you own a private yacht make sure it’s moored nearby – charter one if you’ve fallen on hard times. Just across the water is Thomas Carr @ The Olive Room in Ilfracombe, Devon, offering a very tasty fish-heavy eight-course tasting menu for just £60. Dishes are only confirmed once the day boats come in, ensuring the very freshest produce is on offer.

Tell the captain full speed ahead as you rush back to the Welsh coast to be driven east into the Midlands to visit Peel’s at Hampton Manor in Solihull. The latest restaurant to add to Birmingham’s roster of Michelin stars, Peel’s offers a seven-course tasting menu including Monkfish dahl, Lobster with grapefruit and sweetcorn and Chocolate mint aero. Book yourself into one of Hampton Manor’s suites and sleep off the matching wine flight, ready for your trip up north in the morning.

Courses eaten: 24

Miles travelled: 311 (90 by boat)

Day three

As you're driven north, swerve back into Wales to take an early lunch at Sosban and The Old Butchers in Menai Bridge. This beautiful brightly coloured restaurant serves diners seven courses of dishes decided on the day, with no menus to peruse or pick through beforehand. Previous highlights have included Smoked cod with dried ox heart and cauliflower, which gives a clue to how inventive and playful the kitchen can be.

If you’ve got time, walk through the Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens for some fresh air, then spend the next three hours pondering your meals so far as you venture into Cumbria to visit the first of two new one-star restaurants, Gilpin Hotel and Lake House. With nine courses of food that combine regional ingredients, classic flavour combinations and innovative flair and presentation, this is a country house hotel with a difference.

Hopefully you’ve left some room for the final restaurant on today’s itinerary, as it’s just a stunning twelve-mile drive along the coast of Lake Windermere (if you’re starting to flag, a brisk hike up and down nearby Orrest Head should help with digestion and will reward you with beautiful views across the entire lake). Forest Side is an incredible gothic mansion is home to a restaurant run by ex-head forager of L’Enclume, Kevin Tickle. Championing Cumbrian produce above all else, the ten-course tasting menu also features lots of weird and wonderful wild ingredients like pickled allium flowers, sunset velvet, loganberries and verbena. It’s best we call it a night at this point, so book yourself into one of the twenty bedrooms and get ready for the final restaurant on the agenda.

Courses eaten: 26

Miles travelled: 343

Day four

Head due east for seventy-three miles and get ready for one of the best lunches of your life. The Raby Hunt is an unassuming pub just outside Darlington, but was the only restaurant to get two stars in this year’s guide. The chef James Close is self-taught, insanely determined and the creator of dishes that combine simplicity with a masterful understanding of flavour and texture.

Tuck into a ten-course menu of Razor clams with almond and celeriac, Cod skin with aioli, Raw beef with basil and black truffle and Artichoke and offal. It’s the perfect meal to end the most decadent trip of a lifetime, and as the smooth hum of your chauffeur-driven car lulls you into a food coma on the way home, you can be safe in the knowledge that no one else in the world has been so daring, so gastronomic, so blasé with their money and personal health as you.

Courses eaten: 10

Miles travelled: 73


Total courses eaten over four days across ten restaurants: 70

Total miles travelled: 827