Restaurant Interlude – Lower Beeding, Sussex

At a special launch event that was held at The Hurlingham Club in London on Monday, Michelin unveiled its Great Britain and Ireland stars for 2020. To mark this annual occasion, we wanted to take this time to celebrate our favourite Michelin-star restaurants that feature in both the Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2020 and our regional food and drink guides.

The Oscars of the culinary world, Michelin stars are considered the highest honour for chefs across the globe, and to be awarded one star, let alone multiple stars, is no easy feat at all. With just 5 restaurants across Great Britain and Ireland holding 3 stars, just 23 holding two stars, and just 187 restaurants in total that can claim to have any, being awarded a Michelin star places restaurants in an exclusive club reserved for just the very best.

Although we love each and every restaurant that features in our Food & Drink Guides, we recognise how much hard work goes into being awarded a Michelin star, so we thought it was appropriate to give a special shout-out to those places in our guides that have one or two stars.

One such place with two stars and the first restaurant on our list is The Dining Room at Whatley Manor in Malmesbury, which was just promoted from one star to two stars at Monday night’s event.

2 STARS

The Dining Room at Whatley Manor – Malmesbury, Wiltshire (NEW TWO STAR)

Rather than offering a tasting menu, Niall Keating, head chef at The Dining Room at Whatley Manor has compiled a true dining experience; a culinary journey of unforgettable destinations. Niall describes his food as modern British, but it’s also influenced by his worldwide travels. You’re invited into the heart of the kitchen for one of the courses, and some dishes are brought to the table by the chefs themselves, who explain the culinary process that goes into creating them.

The menu is varied and interesting, truly an exploration for the senses. To study the menu in advance might take something away from the experience; it’s better to arrive with an open mind and an expectation of pleasure, and to let Niall’s innovation surprise you as the evening unfolds.

From risotto chorizo to the complex flavour of squid ink tortellini, one of Niall’s signature dishes, and wagyu, kohlrabi, date and ssamjang, Niall’s menu is a masterpiece. Charming touches like the warm, freshly baked sourdough bread served with brown butter buttermilk are comforting and familiar, while other courses will open your mind to new flavours and textures. The matching wine flight makes for a truly superlative dining experience, and one that will be remembered for all the right reasons. 

1 STAR

Alchemilla – Nottingham (NEW ENTRY)

Almost hidden from the bustle of traffic outside, the first thing you’ll notice as you enter Alchemilla is its unique setting within a 19th-century coach house, which lay empty for nearly 150 years. Exposed brick walls contrast with plants and a central living wall of lush green plants. It has a tranquil feel, akin to finding your own secret garden in the heart of Nottingham.

As you take a seat, you’ll be struck first by the friendly and informal ambience. An open kitchen adds theatre and anticipation as each dish is prepared. Modern cooking techniques are used to emphasise the flavours of seasonal vegetables and foraged plants. There’s something beautifully simple about the food at Alchemilla. The skill and imagination of head chef Alex Bond and his talented team is evident in every bite.

Alyn Williams at The Westbury – London

Excitement mounting at the prospect of visiting this Michelin-starred Mayfair jewel, we walked through the splendid lobby and were met at the rosewood-panelled restaurant with a warm welcome. The meal comprised a series of artfully presented tasting plates, each perfectly matched with a glass of fine wine, served by our knowledgeable sommelier. We began swiftly with Champagne and amuse-bouches, intermingling the tastes of only the finest ingredients: scallop, caviar and delicate risotto balls.

The care and detail taken in every aspect of presentation, food and service was beyond impeccable. The lasting impression of our evening was that we had experienced the handiwork of culinary masters on top form.

Hambleton Hall – Oakham

For over 35 years Hambleton Hall has been Rutland’s favourite Michelin-starred destination. Aaron Patterson, head chef since 1991, cooks with great energy and flair. He combines seasonal produce, including herbs, salads and berries from

Hambleton kitchen’s own garden, with top-quality seafood and game (when in season) to create delicious modern European dishes. Sourcing only the finest ingredients from trusted suppliers and adapting the menu daily depending on what is available ensures that the beautiful dishes served at Hambleton Hall are always fresh and innovative. In 2019, Hambleton Hall was listed at number ten in Harden’s Best UK Restaurants, testament to the incredible skill and dedication of the team.

Restaurant Interlude – Lower Beeding, Sussex (NEW ENTRY)

Dining experiences don’t get much better than the Restaurant Interlude at Leonardslee Gardens. From the moment you sweep up the drive of this 240-acre estate and see the beautiful 19th-century Italianate-style mansion house, you know you’re in for something special. We were welcomed into the splendid entrance hall, complete with tinkling piano, and taken through to the elegant dining room. The restaurant offers two tasting menus, with every course containing an ingredient sourced from the estate and gardens. We opted for the more extensive Estate Experience, which involved an exquisite 19-course tasting menu.

We were favourably impressed with every aspect of our meal, from the ‘untraditional crackers’ made of crispy chicken skin, oats, linseed and squid rice, to the sheep’s milk sorbet with birch syrup harvested from trees in the garden.

John’s House – Mountsorrel, Leicestershire

Leicestershire’s only Michelin-starred restaurant is guaranteed to impress with its outstanding food, first-class service and atmosphere that oozes laid-back decadence. It’s an intoxicating combination that had me planning my next visit before I’d even finished my starter.

John’s House is the creation of head chef John Duffin, who, after years spent honing his craft at various highly acclaimed eateries, returned to his family farm in Mountsorrel to showcase his skills at his own fine dining restaurant. His menu focuses on the quality and provenance of ingredients, with all of the meat and most other produce grown on the farm itself. With its carefully chosen selection of wine from around the world, indulgent tasting menu and exclusive atmosphere, John’s House is a truly exceptional restaurant that deserves to be top of every discerning diner’s must-visit list.

L’Ortolan – Reading

Surrounded by beautiful grounds in the elegant setting of a former vicarage, L’Ortolan is secluded yet easily accessible, being only five minutes from Junction 11 of the M4. Under the charismatic leadership of newly appointed Italian restaurant manager Marco Nardi, the front-of-house team will make your fine dining experience memorable. The restaurant has proudly held its Michelin star since 2003 under Alan Murchison, who later passed the command to Tom Clarke, who was rewarded for his culinary skill with his very own Michelin star in 2015. Head chef Clarke trained with Raymond Blanc, Jean-André Charial and Alan Murchison. Their influence can be seen in each of Clarke’s dishes, thanks to a creative blend of classical French flavours and modern techniques.

Number One (at Balmoral Hotel) – Edinburgh

The Balmoral’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Number One, is recognised as providing one of Scotland’s greatest culinary experiences. Gaining four AA rosettes for culinary excellence in 2016/2017, it is Number One’s dedication and passion to ensure immaculate service and outstanding Scottish cuisine that gives this culinary Edinburgh landmark its winning edge. This year, The Balmoral’s executive chef, Jeff Bland, head chef, Brian Grigor, and the front-of-house team has deservedly retained their Michelin star for the 16th consecutive year and pride themselves on preparing perfect dishes.

Head chef Brian Grigor places emphasis on creative dishes while promoting the best of Scotland by using only the finest and freshest Scottish ingredients and produce. Featured dishes include Balmoral smoked salmon with lemon butter, quail’s egg and caviar; Inverurie hogget with baby gem, peas and mint yoghurt; Valrhona chocolate tart 2001 with praline and white chocolate.

Nut Tree – Oxfordshire

This thatched Grade II listed building may look like a traditional pub from the outside and, in many ways, that’s just what it is – inside you’ll find low beams, log-burning stoves and a bar fully stocked with well-kept real ale. The pub even has its own Aunt Sally team, and there’s a lovely beer garden in which to bask in the sunshine and enjoy a classic ploughman’s lunch.

Yet while it may boast all the hallmarks of an unassuming country inn, The Nut Tree is also the proud holder of a Michelin star and has been for over ten years. That’s not to say dining here is a formal affair – proprietors Mike and Imogen North are dedicated to ensuring The Nut Tree is very much a down-to-earth pub that also happens to serve first-class, award-winning modern British cuisine. The Nut Tree is at once a destination dining venue and a relaxed local – a unique combination that has earned it numerous accolades and awards.

Salt – Warwickshire

After a lot of hard work and the help of a Kickstarter campaign, head chef Paul Foster and his wife Rhiain opened Salt. This impressive eatery offers a fine dining experience within a relaxed setting, allowing the magnificent food to speak for itself. The quality of the food is the kitchen’s priority and it shows, with exceptional dishes being produced all year round. Before the end of its first year, Salt had been praised in The Good Food Guide’s Editor’s Awards and was also named best new entry for 2017. The restaurant was also the first in Stratford-upon-Avon to win a Michelin star.

The dining areas are separated into two rooms: a quaint and intimate space that’s ideal for smaller bookings, and a larger room with an open kitchen that allows diners to watch their food being carefully prepared by the experts themselves.

Head chef Paul changes the menus regularly, taking fresh seasonal produce and creating spectacular dishes, both in flavour and presentation. The tasting menus come highly recommended, for lunch and dinner. 

The Black Rat – Winchester, Hampshire

In just over a decade since opening in 2007, The Black Rat has gone from strength to strength. It’s the second business venture from David Nicholson, who also runs The Black Boy, Hole and Bottle. Having received a Michelin star within a couple of years after opening, it is clear that this former pub is something special. The relaxed dining environment means that you are able to completely focus on head chef John Marsden-Jones’ superb creations. The building dates back to the 1700s, but also boasts 15th- and 16th-century features such as historic stonework, thick walls and low ceilings. The seamless blend of traditional decor with modern twists is reflected in the creative and exciting menus.

The menu changes regularly, and relies on seasonal, local produce to evoke unique and special flavours that you won’t find anywhere else. Living up to its Michelin star, the winter menu we sampled featured five starters; the smoked eel enhanced by Alexanders, spätzle, Jerusalem artichoke and shallots was a highlight with stunning presentation.

The Clock House – Ripley, Surrey

The Clock House in Ripley (formerly Drake’s) is privately owned by Serina Drake, who has – together with head chef Fred Clapperton and the team – firmly put this renowned restaurant back on Surrey’s culinary map. It has received wide critical acclaim and was awarded a Michelin star in October 2017. The AA also wasted no time checking it out after the name change, immediately awarding it three AA rosettes.

The gorgeous Georgian building in the centre of the High Street has been sympathetically restored over the years, and a stylish blend of contemporary touches complement original oak beams and Georgian features. Drinks can be enjoyed in the oak-panelled cocktail bar, which has recently been extended, or in the pretty walled garden when the weather permits.

The restaurant is open from Wednesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner, with a great-value set lunch menu from just £31 for two courses, or dinner from £50 for two courses. What’s more, a fabulous vegetarian menu is always available. For those wanting to linger longer over their lunch or dinner, Fred has devised a seven-course tasting menu, which showcases the team’s talent, creativity and passion and is available with matching wine for an unforgettable experience.

The Fordwich Arms – Canterbury, Kent

Having opened to great critical acclaim in December 2017, The Fordwich Arms has gone from strength to strength. The venue earned a coveted Michelin star only ten months after opening, received three AA rosettes and was ranked in the top 100 restaurants in the UK at the Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards. A beautiful 1930s’ Arts and Crafts-style building, the pub boasts a lovely long bar and oak-panelled dining room with three open fireplaces. Additionally, in the summer months, the beautiful dining terrace and garden offer spectacular views over the river Stour.

The young, ambitious team, led by head chef Daniel Smith, his wife and pastry chef Natasha Smith and front-of-house manager Guy Palmer-Brown, have created a riverside dining destination like no other. Expect an everchanging seasonal menu and imaginative dishes cooked with flair using the best local produce.

The Hind’s Head – Berkshire

Set in a venerable 15th-century building, the Michelin-starred Hind’s Head serves a spectacular range of classic British dishes. Vintage red lamps, green stained-glass windows, dark wooden tables and red leather seating transport you back to a time of medieval regality and elegance. As soon as you’re seated, you know you’re in for a treat – guests can expect a banquet-worthy meal fit for a king or queen.

The team of expert chefs cooks with both respect for tradition and contemporary sensibility, combining the best of both worlds. Expect delicious seasonal food that celebrates the best of British, cooked with precision, skill and originality.

Tim Allen’s Flitch of Bacon – Dunmow

Located just ten minutes along the A120 from Stansted Airport, in the charming village of Little Dunmow, Tim Allen’s Flitch of Bacon Inn is a modern British establishment in which to eat, drink and sleep. The team prides itself on serving locally sourced seasonal food in a relaxed setting that welcomes all, including families, children and dogs. The Flitch of Bacon Inn has recently been awarded a Michelin star, making it the only venue in Essex to hold one.

Tim Allen, formerly executive head chef at the Michelin-starred Wild Rabbit in Kingham, is chef and partner at the Inn. Tim has been a chef all his working life and is passionate about serving the highest quality dishes featuring local, seasonal and authentic ingredients. Tim and his wife Magali have transformed this historical inn, bringing their very special combination of exquisite food and excellent service to Little Dunmow.

Tim, Magali and their friendly team take pride in serving fine food and hand-picked wines in a relaxed setting, as well as hosting guest chef dinners, monthly wine club dinners, Christmas Day lunch and other seasonal delights over the holidays. It’s easy to see why the Flitch is becoming a favourite on Essex’s blossoming dining scene.

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