Half-arsed vegetarian options be gone. Veggies and vegans are no longer the pariahs of the dinner table. Far from it. Cutting down on your meat intake is more popular than ever before, and it is environmental and health concerns, not bacon butties, that are on many people’s lips these days.
Nowadays, vegetarians, flexitarians and adventurous omnivores can sample inspiring menus from Michelin starred chefs, with courses such as ‘new season asparagus, vintage birch sap, brown butter’ at The Forest Side, ‘whipped yukon gold, soaked Pedro Ximénez brioche, truffles and ceps’ at The Grosvenor, or ‘aubergine masala caviar, saffron poached apricots, rolled medjool dates, coconut and cardamom gel, coriander cress’ at Hrishi.
The array of incredible meat-free food on offer in the North West is dazzling, and options for fine dining are better than ever. To celebrate this, we have drawn up a list of eight restaurants with outrageously good vegetarian tasting menus for your delectation.
13 Book Now Cumbria Modern British
This Michelin-starred restaurant and hotel, owned by Lakes hotelier Andrew Wildsmith, is built on the foundations of the cooking of former L’Enclume forager, Kevin Tickle. New head chef, Paul Leonard took over the stove in late 2019. The menu is, undoubtedly, “inspired by the Cumbrian landscape”, but there’s plenty more going on here, with aspects of Scandi and Californian chic creeping into the tasting and lunch menus. While adventurous meat eaters are very well catered for, vegetarians are certainly not left out. In fact, ‘garden shenanigans’ are a theme as lovage, anise hyssop, woodruff, lemon verbena all typically feature along with wild garlic capers, elderflower and coastal greens.
30 Book Now Cheshire Modern British
This sumptuous restaurant has held a Michelin star since 1990 thanks to the sparkling imagination of head chef, Simon Radley. A la carte, tasting and vegetarian menus are available with matched wines from an internationally acclaimed cellar of more than 1000 bins, which has secured an AA Notable Wine List Award. Heaven for the armchair tourist and ideal for that milestone birthday.
Book Now Cumbria Indian subcontinent
Michelin-starred British-Asian in modern surrounds.
An antidote to the chintz of other Lakes venues, Gilpin is a getaway with two distinct hotel experiences to choose from, each as chic as the other. Overlooking the rolling hills, chef duties have changed hands a few times but are safe for now with Roux scholarship winner and Michelin star chef, Hrishikesh Desai. Desai’s experience includes Les Maison de Bricourt and French Laundry; expect seamless British-Asian fusion.
Book Now Derbyshire Modern British
Fine Michelin-starred dining with local foraged aspects in homely, romantic surrounds. Using the fruits of the region when everyone else was importing from abroad, Fischers stuck to its guns and now does it arguably better than anyone else in Derbyshire. The refreshingly brief menu lists key ingredients, riffing on a kitchen garden theme. Lettuces and herbs are plucked from the kitchen gardens and there’s an old-fashioned wine list to match the standards at the pass, as well as a bespoke wine room. Décor is chintzy (in a good way) with contemporary wallpaper and polished trimmings. This Michelin-starred restaurant with rooms in a Grade II listed Derbyshire Manor House is a destination restaurant. Extras include lunch deal, foraging courses and a chance to visit the 12 bee hives that reside in the hotel’s grounds.
12 Book Now Leeds Modern British
Inspired British cooking from Masterchef graduates. Home is the brainchild of Masterchef finalist Liz Cottam, and business partner Mark Owens, formerly head chef at Ilkley’s veteran Michelin star, The Box Tree (also in our Top 100). While Home has only been Home, so to speak, since 2017, this compact British restaurant is already a favourite of national food critics. Follow a trail of tea lights up several floors into a moody room, filled with simple creature comforts. Crisp white table clothes set the scene for five lunchtime or ten evening courses. A genuine Northern light.
Book Now Yorkshire Modern British
There’s a playfulness about food and decor at this tiny, fine dining bolthole in a Yorkshire border town. You instantly notice the nods to Alice in Wonderland and the menu puns owners David and Robyn Gledhill can’t resist. The pair, both chefs, offer monthly changing five course (£35) and eight course (£55) tasting menus (including veggie versions) at both lunch and dinner with optional wine flights. There’s also a monthly brunch menu. Vivid presentation matches technical tour de force without over-complicating a menu that might run from hake with lemon and samphire cream to carrot cake, buttered carrot and orange mascarpone. They are blessed with an impressive roster of local food suppliers.
21 Book Now Lancashire Modern British
This elegant dining room is where chef-patron, Nigel Haworth, earned his stripes as an instigator of contemporary British fine dining. Today, Michelin star chef and one of BBC2’s Great British Menu winners, Lisa Allen, heads up the kitchen. Expect a roving, regional smorgasbord, tempered with classic techniques and contemporary flavours. Things have changed on the looks front and following a huge cash injection, the surroundings are light and sumptuous, which is part of the allure – not least to Michelin inspectors. There’s a private dining room sponsored by Louis Roederer and the cellar, complete with some exceptional New World options, is fit for the pickiest of tasters. Bottles are hand-picked by Northcote co-founder and expert sommelier, Craig Bancroft.
Book Now Manchester Modern British
Rustic dining pub with excellent reputation and wine list. Located seven hundred feet above sea level, where Saddleworth Moor starts, the restaurant is located in an impressive former coaching house, and it’s a place for all; a composite experience including a restaurant and brasserie with two AA rosettes, pub, function areas and a boutique hotel. There are many cosy seating areas: low ceilings, beams, exposed stone walls and big fireplaces. Head chef Mike Shaw’s cooking, meanwhile, is all about local ingredients cooked with flair. Cheese is a strength with French and British options, while dessert could include duck egg custard tart, a passionfruit cheesecake, coconut yoghurt with chocolate and eucalyptus, or a pear tart tatin with liquorice ice cream.
Book Now Manchester Modern British
Mana is one of Ancoats’ newest openings and is already confusing and delighting people in equal measure. The brainchild of chef patron Simon Martin, who mastered his trade at the renowned Noma in Copenhagen, everything they do is meticulously researched and organised, from the kitchen itself, divided into four sections by temperature (hot, cold, ambient and freezing), to the menu, which is developed and tested with scientific precision. They take food very, very seriously here. The focus is on using the best seasonal British produce available to create unique dishes which celebrate the power of ‘nature’s elemental forces’.
Book Now Yorkshire Indian subcontinent
Award-winning veggie south Indian cuisine. Prashad is a Gordon Ramsey-rated thrill for anyone craving Gujarati vegetarian food. Since starring on Ramsey’s ‘Best Restaurant’ show, the team have made the most of the exposure. Expansion, relocation and even a Sunday Times top 40 rated cookbook followed.
24 Book Now Yorkshire Modern British
Fine dining and extraordinary wine in the hills. This extremely plush restaurant is an established proving ground for new British chefs. Two Michelin star guru, Michael Wignall, was in residence before he moved to The Latymer (and, recently, The Angel at Hetton) while current resident, Paul Leonard, fresh off the boat from Michelin-starred Isle of Eriska, is a comparable craftsman. The hotel and restaurant are set in ye olde English country gardens and form part of the Duke of Devonshire’s 30,000 acre Bolton Abbey estate.