The best UK restaurants for outdoor dining 2015

Summer may be on its way out, but here are five beautiful restaurants from Sussex to Anglesey to visit before we all put our sunscreen away for another year.

The Manor House Hotel and Golf Club, Wiltshire


Regularly touted as one of Britain’s prettiest villages, Castle Combe is packed in summer. Its 14th century Manor House, however, now a hotel and golf resort, remains a serene escape from the hubbub. As summer gasps its last, afternoon tea (from £26pp) on its manicured lawns is, perhaps, the ultimate in indulgent me-time. Pastry chef Marc Collyer creates exquisite towers of pleasure that can be enjoyed with Nyetimber sparkling wine from Sussex, or teapots full of English-rose-infused G&T (the Manor has a staggering collection of 170 gins)…

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Inn at Whitewell, Lancashire

Legend has it that Lord Of The Rings author, J.R.R. Tolkien, modelled Middle Earth on the Forest of Bowland, and it’s easy to understand why. It feels magical, otherworldly even, and nowhere more so than the Inn at Whitewell. Sections of this remote refuge date to the 15th century and, from its carved stonework and ancient flagged floors to its comfortable, antique-dressed bedrooms, it oozes character. The Inn sits in a lush green valley, which you can admire from the Inn’s sunny terrace, by striking out on numerous local walks, or while fishing on the adjacent River Hodder: ‘you catch it, we’ll cook it,’ says owner Charles Bowman… 

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Gravetye Manor, Sussex

As a chef, when a lot of your produce comes from a walled garden that has its own, season-defying microclimate, it can create some unusual problems. ‘We grew kiwi fruits, which we harvested in November, stored, and served at Christmas,’ explains Gravetye’s George Blogg, ‘but no-one would believe that they were grown here.’ Undeterred, he and gardener Tom Coward are working on peaches this year and continuing to exploit every growing opportunity across Gravetye’s large kitchen garden, orchards, hothouses, polytunnels and foraging spots. ‘In summer, we have a ridiculous amount of veg,’ says George, whose team is often busy preserving, brining and drying such ingredients in order to use them over winter.

In total, this beautiful Elizabethan manor house is surrounded by 1,000 acres of lakes, forest and wild flower meadows. Forty of these are managed gardens, famously first cultivated by the pioneering 19th century horticulturalist, William Robinson. Hotel guests and diners can explore throughout and, on fine days, eat on various, gorgeous, outdoor terraces – albeit from a simpler, garden-driven lounge menu. ‘The nearest house is a mile away and we’re not under any flight paths,’ says George, ‘One thing Gravetye offers is escapism.’…

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The Oyster Catcher, Anglesey

‘Anglesey has fabulous produce and miles of underused beaches. It’s a little haven,’ says Claire Lara, head chef at Oyster Catcher. Not that there is anything under-the-radar about the restaurant which Claire leads. An eco-friendly Huf Haus design that rises out of the sand dunes on the coast at Rhosneigr, this bar, restaurant and ad hoc BBQ spot can, on a baking hot summer’s day, do a whopping 800 covers.

Regulars head straight for the extensive first-floor decked terrace area, which includes several tables tucked into cute, brightly painted beach huts. Where possible, Claire (2010 winner of Masterchef: The Professionals – loves to showcase superlative Anglesey ingredients, principally Menai Straits crab, mussels and lobster, Welsh beef and lamb and, of course, the island’s Halen Môn sea salt…

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The Pointer, Buckinghamshire

David Howden is not big on slogans or manifestos, but in his smart village pub, the adjacent butcher’s shop, and a nearby farm that supplies both, he and his wife Fiona have created a network of businesses which are a model of holistic, field-to-fork food production. ‘It’s not just that the produce is local that’s of prime importance to us, but that it’s actually ours. Everything grows so quickly, I need to be on the farm twice-a-week to keep on top of it’, says chef Mini Patel, enthusiastically. The farm produces everything from baby carrots to 30-day aged Longhorn beef, and Mini is constantly tweaking his menus in order to use it when it’s in peak condition…

Click here to read our full review

By Tony Naylor

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