Looking for something a bit fancy? White tablecloths, complicated plates and tasting menus your thing? Perhaps a little natter with the sommelier about the virtues of Burgundian Chardonnay? Maybe you just want to put a shirt/frock on and show off a little. No matter what the reason, below we’ve listed the 20 best fine dining restaurants in the North West.
The sea buckthorn is fantastic this year, don’t you think?
1 Book Now Cumbria Modern British
One of the UK’s best restaurants. Executive chef Simon Rogan’s simple, imaginative restaurant typically exceeds its formidable reputation, serving florid takes on foraged ingredients and food sourced from the restaurant’s own 12 acre farm. After more than 15 years in the kitchen and a number of changes of direction, the menu, cooked by head chef Paul Burgalières, is a showcase for Rogan’s iconic style. Lunch and dinner menus which include anything from 8 to 16 courses waltz with the seasons. Goosnargh duck could be served with cherries and smoked beetroot, locally-crafted porcelain is a feature of every course, while British ingredients run riot in refreshing configurations: pork and eel are served in ham fat, cod roe is smoked and cabbage fermented in house. Wines are hand picked to complement the food with matched experiences available. In 2018, the restaurant holds two Michelin stars, 5 AA rosettes and prices start at £59 for lunch.
2 Book Now Lancashire Modern British
Michelin magic from Mark Birchall in a historic country setting. Mark Birchall, ex-head chef at L’Enclume is chef-patron of this outstanding one Michelin star, 4 AA Rosette restaurant with rooms. The large, Grade II-listed manor house in this flat and lush part of the country dates back to the 14th century and its located in acres of ground that takes in a country garden, lake, kitchen gardens and a whole lot more. Birchall’s backers and co-owners, the Bells, haven’t scrimped on the investment – and their head chef is a safe bet. Having trained at the three star El Celler de Can Roca in Girona (twice voted the best restaurant in the world), he went on to win the Roux scholarship in 2011. The Roca brothers have had a big impact on Mark Birchall and Moor Hall is benefiting from the experience. Everything is British or grown on site – which is no massive claim to fame these days, but when you think of Birchall’s pedigree, expect the best. Appetisers could include black pudding with pickled apple, smoked curd, tiny baskets of fermented garlic and flowers, and an oyster dish, that tastes (and looks) as remarkable as a rock pool. Aged beef in charcoal is Birchall’s classic ‘main’ from the 8 (plus) course tasting menu, while desserts could include a layered apple creation, topped with apple mead rocks and aged caramel or the most gingery ice cream topped with a regional classic – shards of frozen gingerbread – and served in a hand-carved wooden bowl. Expect natural feeling presentation and tableware worthy of its payload. And don’t forget the dedicated cheese room, stocked with the Courtyard Dairy and Neal’s Yard’s finest. Wine flights (from £55 for four) are bespoke and brilliant: think Japan, Macedonia, New York and France.
3 Book Now Leeds Modern British
New look, same, wild styling from the Michelin-starred, glam rock loving superstar. In 2018, chef-patron Michael O’Hare upped sticks from the Flannels department store attic where he made his name with Man Behind the Curtain and moved into the basement of the same building. His inaugural restaurant enjoyed a £1.1million bespoke fit-out along the way. Think custom designed kitchen, lavish natural materials and robot toilets. Just as the restaurant’s namesake The Wizard of Oz ordered, the interior fittings conspire to create a disorientating atmosphere. The tasting menu could include a miniature bun in a nuclear launch button shade of red, filled with XO-sauced veal pancreas or a lava-ish langoustine tartare, glowing with green parsley oil. Vinegar-packed Iberico pork, garlic and almond enjoys Pollock-esque presentation, while Emancipation – O’Hare’s Great British Menu winning fish dish – is a beacon of white cod surrounded by black. Black crockery, black dashi, and a summit of black vinegar powder. Wines are thrilling – yet the question remains: how do you continue subverting expectations when being subversive is your whole schtick? The new room might take you out of your comfort zone, but O’Hare remains within his, which will continue to please fans and newcomers alike.
4 Book Now Yorkshire Modern British
An astonishing arrival on the Northern culinary scene
This unassuming pub serves foraged and regional ingredients in thrilling configurations, catching the eye of national food critics and diners alike. The Moorcock team are Alisdair Brooke-Taylor (chef) and Aimee Turford (front of house). They worked together in Australia then at Belgium’s much-missed Michelin star, In De Wulf. Yet having only opened their joint venture in 2017, they’ve got a success on their hands. The setting is back-to-basic pub, with a bar in one room, restaurant space in the other. Bar snacks cost up to £7 – think jack by the hedge fritters (a kind of fast-growing wild garlic), house-made charcuterie, spiced pork scratchings and unpasturised organic cheeses. The menu proper could include crispy fish skin and tarts of foraged berries, wood-roasted goat, leeks with new season garlic and pickled plums, homemade black pudding, roasted beeswax ice cream and a cascades of herbs and leaves that go way beyond plate dressing. Wines are largely natural and from small producers, while traditional Belgian beers are another strength. A rising star that looks set to eclipse many of its neighbours.
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. Even so, the cooking is characterised by pleasure, which also applies to the remarkably reasonable wine list. With bottles from around £20, it’s affordable – even the ‘fine selection’ with Burgundy from around £60. Expect cooking inspired by France’s bleeding edge in this unique space. Commissioned glass sculptures and suede are themes; strangely, it works. Fans will be pleased to know that Ben Mounsey, formerly of Fraiche, joined another Top 100 Manchester entry, Grafene, as head chef in 2018.
6 Book Now Manchester Modern British
Culinary rock’n’roll from Simon Rogan’s protege, Adam Reid. Enjoy fine dining in Grade II listed Victorian surrounds – with a side order of Mancunian attitude. The soundtrack (which could include The Beatles and Oasis) is drawn from Reid’s personal playlist and sets a cool scene for pin-sharp creations. The tasting menu could include salt-aged duck with acidic cherry sauce, or soft raw scallops with buttermilk gel and flowers plucked from the roof-top garden. Upscale comfort food is another trend while desserts could include Reid’s blown-sugar clementine with white chocolate leaf and sea buckthorn sorbet. Reid won the Great British Menu dessert round with a similar creation, available to pre-order called ‘Golden Empire’. The winelist is brilliantly expansive and dining here feels like an occasion – no matter what time of day you visit. A draped-off lounge area with its own reception, creates the illusion of an independent restaurant rather than one shoe-horned into a bustling hotel.
8 Book Now Yorkshire Modern British
High-end cooking in a 300-year-old farmhouse. While there’s been a restaurant on this site for more than 50 years, owner-proprietor team Simon and Rena Gueller keep things firmly up to date at Ilkley’s picture-perfect Box Tree. Expect a contemporary take on classical French cooking at a restaurant which has seen famous chefs like Marco Pierre White behind the pass. The two restaurant rooms are famous for their art and antiques; this is an extremely plush Yorkshire stone farmhouse, dating back 300 years. Food – and wine – is the real draw though – and the restaurant was one of the first in the UK to be awarded a Michelin star, which has retained. Soufflés (mandarin, with milk chocolate sauce) are a signature while grand French and Italian-inspired dishes come laden with local ingredients; Yorkshire lamb cutlet with wild garlic gnocchi, chalk stream trout with a caper and parsley jus, or celery panna cota with Yorkshire fettle. Wines include buttery Soaves, Tokajis, hand-picked Spanish reds at this restaurant that exudes a sense of occasion.
9 Book Now Manchester Modern British
The UK’s most exciting ‘no menu’ restaurant. With no menu, esoteric wines and Michelin star price tag, WTLGI doesn’t adhere to the typical fine dining formula. But it’s been a success for Stockport, thanks to chef-patron Sam Buckley’s belief in doing things his own way. His aim is to create ‘a dining experience from the day’s catch, harvest and slaughter’ and to treat staff ethically and as part of the restaurant’s collective consciousness. Refreshingly, the diner plays a central role in this food-led production. What with there being no menu, the experience changes with the days and seasons, but dishes Confidential writers have enjoyed in the past include chestnuts foraged that day in Delamere Forest, lemony sprats with curd-topped scrap of poppadom and deep-fried slivers of bull’s testicles, smeared with tart quince puree. Salt-baked beetroot with hazelnut custard, fillet of plaice with bergamot infusion and wild horseradish daringly shredded over chocolate tart are the kind of treats in store. Wines are a fair match for Buckley ethos; often natural and biodynamic, several are sourced from specialists such as Settle’s Buon Vino. Open minded diners welcome.
11 Book Now Lancashire British
Some folk in the village stlll refer to it as “The Mucky Duck’ and you can still order a pint of Timothy Taylor’s at its very pubby bar but over the past three years the Swan has established itself as a destination fine dining spot thanks to 20something chef Tom Parker. From up the road in Burnley, at 16 he begged a start at at Michelin-starred Northcote, becoming a protégé of Lisa Allen and scooping a Young Chef of the Year award. That prodigious talent is evident throughout the short menus here, which change daily on the back of produce turning up on his doorstep. Maybe you’ll get a blob of luscious, home-smoked mash atop a seared fillet of Longhorn or a lobster raviolo, one large pasta parcel encasing the sweetest claw meat, matched by equally sweet butternut squash puree. A five course £45 tasting menu is the perfect introduction to a Swan on song.
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. Dishes could include room-temperature uncooked scallops with hand-made mayo, celeriac carbonara, or a festive take on venison with a tiny, spring roll pasty filled with fruit and nuts on the side. Local cheeses are a thrill, while desserts could include apple sponge with apple crisps and firmly whipped cream. Wines are well priced and imaginative with some particularly strong Spanish and Italian options. A genuine Northern light.
13 Book Now Cumbria Modern British
Another Rogan protégé comes into his own. This Michelin-starred restaurant and hotel, owned by Lakes hotelier Andrew Wildsmith, is built around the cooking of former L’Enclume forager, Kevin Tickle. The menu is, undoubtably, “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. Selections could take in a ‘Little Critter Fritter’ (quail, rabbit and grey squirrel morsel fried in a black and grey crumb with a sharp little dip) and Will and Emma’s Herdwick Hogget with Garden Shenanigans (lamb three ways, with a hay-infused custard and collage of leaves and petals). In fact, ‘garden shenigans’ are a theme as lovage, anise hyssop, woodruff, lemon verbena all typically feature along with wild garlic capers, elderflower and coastal greens. It’s what you’d hope to enjoy in the airy, flower-filled dining hall. Venison pastrami with juniper yoghurt, ramson capers and a shaving of a caramelly Irish sheep’s cheese, Cai na Tire is another typical combination, while puddings could include gooseberries, loganberries or a wafer-thin wrap of apple atop a light sponge with a buttermilk custard and piercingly herbal lovage ice cream. Wine flights – up to 8 small glasses – feel a little complex, but allow for a list overview.
14 Book Now Liverpool Modern British
Wild child of a restaurant from the former Michelin star winning Masterchef winner. Roski may well bring Liverpool its first Michelin star, thanks to the balls-out cooking of former MasterChef: The Professionals winner, Anton Piotrowski. Gracious in joint victory with Keri Moss, he substantiated his credentials at Devon’s Treby Arms pub earning a Michelin star after being told it could never happen. His Liverpool restaurant takes on the former Pushka site and it’s a simple, elegant space. White tablecloths and gentle lighting places the focus firmly on the food. Food-wise, choose from a selection of five and seven course tasting menus, littered with invention. Dishes include shards of dehydrated carrot flecked with Thai flavours, and Piotrowski’s take on Liverpool’s signature dish, scouse, here taking the form of a tower topped with crisped fermented turnip, sprinkled with parsley dust, a layer of smoked vegetables, locally bred beef brisket aged for 100 days, infused with Norwegian spices and caramelised onion and served with beef knuckle marrow gravy. Tiny, crisp ants are served with the seared scallop, and names are fun too: Olympic Breakfast, for example and Piotroski’s Gone Carrots (his Masterchef winning dish), actually a take carrot cake, presented in a tiny plastic flowerpot, with crumbly chocolate soil and a real baby carrot. Dig into the soft, light carroty sponge for layers of cream. Wines are worldly. Thrilling stuff.
18 Book Now Cumbria European
A wild-maned toddler of a restaurant, bound for great things. Lake Road Kitchen is an exciting place to eat. The baby of former Samling chef, James Cross, is one of the leading lights in the Lakes foraging trend, serving mostly food grown in Cumbria, as well as aged retired Dairy Holstein txuleta (steak). A whole cauliflower, steeped in pine and goat butter is one of Cross’s signature dishes from a tasting menu that clocks in at £65 a head for five courses, or £90 for eight. Swoon over the texture, pick the pine needles out of your teeth after. Homemade goat yoghurt offers inspired contrast. Pickled, roasted and raw heritage carrots are another salve as the small team strut about, full of foraged facts. Meaty mains draw on a winter palate that could include vension (Holker Estate fallow deer), Norweigan salmon, arctic cloudberries and black winter truffles. Desserts could include baked sweet woodruff custard and sour cherry crumble while iconic Northern European cheeses such as aged Comte and oozy Berthaut’s Epoisse cheese are offered with homemade sourdough and homemade ‘virgin’ butter (including the curds and whey). Wines from the Northern European region could include white Furmint, Slovenian varietals and British sparklers.
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 (think lambwool, leather and soft lighting) which is part of the allure – not least to Michelin inspectors. The tasting menu could include aged venison with blood orange and roasted yeast, or a slow-cooked pulled egg with aged sour cream. Charred monkfish with garden parsley or wagyu oyster blade and smoked mustard are the stuff special occasions are made of. Desserts don’t let the side down; Eccles cake soufflé with tea ice cream, or Allen’s magical take on apple pie with caramelised milk. 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.
20 Book Now Yorkshire Scandi
Nordic-inspired fine dining inside a shipping container. Jöro opened the doors of its permanent shipping-container location in early 2017. However, it’s already secured a accolades and fawning reviews galore, including a clutch of AA Rosettes and Michelin Bib Gourmand. Headed by chef Luke French, the concise, Nordic-inspired menu continues the up-cycling ethos of the building structure by delivering often unassuming ingredients with vision and ingenuity. Expect many ‘ways’ on a flavour: heritage carrots, for example, could be served both charred and pickled, with ‘burnt cream’, created by adding the red-hot Birch embers used to barbecue the carrots into a buttery whip. Potatoes, meanwhile, could be roasted in yeast, hidden in a whirl of mash and dressed with a 15-month aged Lincolnshire Poacher cheddar sauce, topped with gnarls of crisp skin. The kitchen is inventive too: “Brassica XO”, for example, is a punchy sauce made with shiitake rather than the usual shellfish, served with grilled cabbage and goats milk parmesan, while mackerel, could be is served in its own skin, and a broth made from the barbecued bones of the fish. Dessert could be tiny blocks of Koji fudge served on top of aerated white chocolate while wines offer sensory stimulation in the form of Akemi White Rioja, or Austrian ‘Beck Ink’, a light, fruity, biodynamic blend of Zweigelt and St Laurent.
22 Book Now Yorkshire Modern British
Husband and wife team, Adam and Lovaine Humphrey have moved their modern British (ish) restaurant Arras from Sydney, Australia to York, England – and the north has reaped the benefits. Artistic configurations of thoughtfully sourced ingredients, great cheese and bread are served in a casual space decorated with murals (be warned: they’re a bit of a Marmite thing). Lunch is great value coming in typically under £25 for three courses, but the ‘kitchen’ (tasting) menu is not much more. Excellent cooking at a very reasonable price could be the tagline with options such as scallops with curried quinoa, ‘potato salad and coleslaw’ (garlic potatoes, potato melt, marinated cabbage, carrot and shallot) and inventive puds. ‘Not Terry’s’ chocolate orange composition and the toffee jelly with coffee ice cream are a draw in themselves. Lovaine’s CV includes The Fat Duck, specialising in wine. Here, she and Adam have complied a list of 200 unique and desirable bins, with a few Aussie corkers.
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. While it may be a tourist hotspot, cooking is as wild as Modern British comes with a number of ingredients and techniques you’d be wise to Google in advance. Flights of fancy from the ‘basic’ tasting menu could include cured duck’s liver with plum and duck ham, while a dish of turbot, mussels and champagne is a marine highlight. Leonard’s signature menu channels nature’s bounty through combinations like salt-baked beetroot with smoky cod’s roe and sheep’s yoghurt or pork cheek with langoustine and sea kale. Such artistry on the plate works in harmony with designer silverware and architectural notations on the walls. With desserts pairing blood orange and pistachio or milk chocolate mousse, coffee and barley, on top of an imaginative cheese board and petit fours, this is special occasion central. Wines are another draw: choose from over 2500 bins tended by the masterful Spencer Brown.
28 Book Now Liverpool Modern British
Upmarket, regionally-inspired cooking from local legend, Paul Askew. Opening in late 2014, this fancy contemporary British restaurant is a place for that special occasion. Since moving on from London Carriage Works, Askew’s clearly been out to make his mark, winning two AA rosettes and publishing his first cookbook in December 2017. The setting is the skylight clad top floor of a children’s home dating back to 1888. With relatively few covers to entertain, the focus is on extremely high-end service – and a proper occasion menu. This being the West Coast, fish is a trend. Start with pan-roasted halibut, Filey crab, cucumber pearls and wild mushroom or seared king scallop with black pudding, apple and golden raisin purée. Mains could include Peterhead hake with locally smoked pork, as well as a fresh catch of the day. Dishes such as red deer venison with black truffle and cavolo nero, or Ormskirk-shot pheasant with butternut squash purée and quince jelly nod to local game. The British cheese selection is served with seasonal fruit and truffle-scented honey sourced from the city’s two cathedrals while must-eat desserts could include berry pavlova with Turkish delight ice cream, or a Sicilian-inspired citrus tart. An AA Notable Wine Award in 2017 completes the wow-some picture.