As fans of Michelin star tasting menus might argue, bigger is not always better. Sometimes a perfectly executed, tiny morsel can pack a much bigger culinary punch than a plateful of mediocrity. Similarly, sometimes the best restaurants are not grandiose chateaus but Lilliputian nooks with queues coiling out of the door – or waiting lists for a table that even Hollywood stars can’t push into (we’re looking at you, Fraiche).
We’ve put together a list of great restaurants with space for 20 or fewer lucky munchers at a time. They are presented here in order of size, starting with the smallest at just 14 seats.
5 Book Now Merseyside Modern British
Merseyside’s fine dining star. This tiny restaurant is home to an artist behind the pass. Having been rated as a ‘rising star’ by the Michelin guide in 2006 and 2007, the restaurant finally secured the real thing which in 2009 which Francophile Marc Wilkinson has since upheld with ease. The signature menu starts as it means to go on, an almond gazpacho with cherry and asparagus introducing the kind of flavour trickery on offer. Dishes are deceptively listed – Gressingham duck, cocoa crisp, and kohlrabi, for example, or carrot textures, feta, and pain d’épice – which belies the molecular tricks at the core of Wilkinson’s style.
Book Now Lancashire Spanish
A true tapas bar serving authentic Spanish dishes, wines and sherries. Owned and run by Basque food importers Joe and Fiona Botham, Levanter is ‘a true tapas bar’ serving authentic Spanish dishes, wines and sherries. Sourcing special meats (both cured and aged) and cheeses from small, rural artisan producers, and bread from local operation, Trove, means that everything is as authentic as your likely to find in Ramsbottom.
16 Book Now Manchester Japanese
Nose-to-tail sushi from acclaimed experts in an off-the-beaten track location. This sushi restaurant with simple décor comes up trumps in the food department with a menu that changes according to availability and daily specials. Widely regarded as one of the finest Japanese restaurants in the UK, highlights could include Hamachi (Japanese Amberjack) and toro sashimi (buttery tuna belly) or fresh water eel nigiri. Special mention also goes to the wagyu nigiri.
25 Book Now Lancashire Spanish
Sublime homage to the pintxos bars of the Basque region. Basque enclave, Baratxuri, is the second Ramsbottom-based bar and restaurant from Joe and Fiona Botham. A spin-off from their business importing high-quality Spanish raw materials, including aged beef from Galician dairy cows, Baratxuri follows the success of their first venture, Levanter, which is just around the corner (and also in the top 100).
Book Now Manchester Japanese
An oasis of calm in bustling Chinatown. Yuzu is a neighbourhood-style Japanese restaurant offering refreshingly uncomplicated dishes served in Zen-like surroundings. You won’t find a conveyor belt of sushi here, but something altogether more traditional.