Best new UK restaurants
Superico Restaurant, Edinburgh
Tapas-style dining with a South American twist
Part of a double-whammy opening (its sister Superico Bar and Lounge has just opened a few doors down), this small, stylish space feels buzzy and welcoming as you walk down steps into the long dining room. Yellow banquette seating lines the wall, and there are splashes of colour (from the vibrant tiles in the entrance to the pretty glazed crockery) as a nod to its South American influences. The main evening menu follows the sharing plates model with an eclectic mix of ingredients – expect dishes like octopus with avocado crema, fennel and salsa cruda, and pork belly and cheek with chicharron, corn and wilted greens. On Sunday afternoons, the menu is pared back to a few sandwiches and sides. We tried the Mexican aubergine torta – a hefty stack of crisp tempura aubergine slices stuffed into a soft torta roll – and melt-in-the-mouth veggie empanadas with a squash, pepper and goat’s cheese filling, on a fiery red mojo sauce. The star side was a generous stack of padron peppers blistered from the grill with a blanket of finely grated Grana Padano, and there is a short but good value aperitivo list at £5 for a spritz or bloody mary. superico.com
Heron, Leith, Edinburgh
Stylish shorefront restaurant with local ingredient focus
This anticipated new opening from Tomas Gormley and Sam Yorke comes after their successful Bad Seeds fine dining at home pop-up during lockdown. The room is calm and airy with double-height ceilings, white wood panelled walls and clean contemporary lines. The large windows look out on to Leith Shore where, if you’re lucky, you might see the feathered visitor the restaurant was named after. There are two menus available at lunch, the à la carte and a two- or three-course set menu (which we were advised was a lighter option). The cooking is delicate, precise and visually stunning with a real respect for the carefully sourced local ingredients. A starter of lobster claw comes on a buttery crushed potato terrine tower with a rich tomato and saffron sauce poured tableside for drama. Creamy cod brandade is served in a bowl studded with plump mussels and clams, and bursts of salty samphire and a chunk of focaccia alongside for dipping. Mains include perfectly pink lamb loin with piperade and a vivid green salsa verde, and a chunk of pearly flaked pan-fried cod with tiny cubed potatoes and sea vegetables in a creamy sauce split with fig oil. Service is friendly, warm and attentive, and there’s a lovely pace to the dishes coming out. A perfect place to while away a leisurely afternoon. heron.scot
Lilac, Lyme Regis, Dorset
Harriet Mansell’s restaurant and wine bar is a thing of local and seasonal beauty
Lilac breathes new life into a 400-year-old cellar, with flagged floors and exposed stone walls complemented by muted colours and simple furnishings.
The menu is a neat offering of small plates with a focus on vegetables and sustainability. Wine and food are on equal footing – pick from the artful and delicious small plates, like fennel seed focaccia with carrot top pesto, pickles, green tahini and dukkah, or a cheese plate, while you navigate the wine list. Choose sparkling, white or red on tap, or delve into the extensive list of low-intervention wines. We had a glass of the local Langham Zig Zag – crisp, refreshing, everything we wanted – and the soft option, a seasonal fruit spritz made with local berries and a delicate touch of rosemary.
The menu changes daily depending on seasonality, with meticulous cooking bringing out the flavours of carefully sourced ingredients. Heritage beetroot is served with a cream of its own leaves and pangrattato, and griddled flat beans come with smoked anchovies and local goat’s cheese. Pork belly with slaw and zingy rhubarb ketchup was the only meat on offer on our visit, but with vegetable brilliance in the form of moreish stilton & ricotta-stuffed courgette flowers with honey and hazelnuts, you won’t miss it.
The owner of east London’s neighbourhood restaurant, Brawn, has opened a seaside sister restaurant at Margate’s iconic pier destination, Harbour Arm. Enjoy lobster spaghetti and Catalan salt cod salad with a quintessential view back over the harbour to the Old Town. Ingredients are sourced locally, many grown on musician and restaurant partner Matthew Herbert’s farm 10 miles from the town, with wines from Europe’s boutique vineyards. Full review coming soon.
Due South, Brighton
Deftly executed open-fire, seasonal dishes, celebrating local Sussex produce
Due South occupies an enviable spot under the arches on the seafront, overlooking the iconic West Pier. Head chef Mark Wadsworth’s food is seasonal and British, with an Asian inspiration. But his USPs are that he cooks everything over an open fire, and that all his ingredients come from within 35 miles of the restaurant.
The vibe is relaxed, with alfresco tables out front and two intimate, low-lit levels within. Service is welcoming and attentive, with staff happy to make recommendations. The wine list features a strong showing of Sussex sparkling wines, and there’s a creative selection of cocktails. We enjoyed the tart Saint Hibiscus made with Court Garden sparkling Sussex wine, hibiscus liqueur and lemon juice.
Start with the must-order wood-fired sourdough – a gloriously fluffy pillow laden with salty anchovies and slathered with rosemary butter. Fish is treated flawlessly, whether served raw as a small plate (wild sea bass sashimi with wasabi crème fraîche) or wood-fired as a main (our whole lemon sole special with confit garlic and charred lemon was a sweetly succulent gem).
But save room for the unmissable wood-fired cheesecake, a generous, gloriously light slice with a toasty top, accompanied by sweet, juicy, macerated cherries.
Elevated Argentinian-inspired dishes in a cool contemporary setting
Aktar Islam’s farm-to-table hotspot is a celebration of seasonality, fresh produce and the finest cuts of meat around. Settle into the foliage-filled interior and expect a warm atmosphere, an energetic buzz and open-flame cooking. If you need some expert guidance, the staff are all committed steak specialists and won’t let you put a fork wrong. Everything on the menu has regional South American flair, from the artfully plated pulpo to the chunky, chilli-laced prawns. For those taking their meaty odyssey seriously, don’t miss out on a slathering of smoked bone marrow on crunchy toasted focaccia. On to the main event, Pulperia boasts the best beef from around the globe, from 17-year-old Galician Blonde prime rib to share between two, to a young and tender sirloin. Any non-meat eaters won’t feel left out with a choice of seasonal plates including a suitably indulgent truffle tagliatelle. Top off your dining experience with a bottle from their extensive wine list, showcasing juicy South American offerings.
The Old Pharmacy, Bruton
Head to Merlin Labron-Johnson’s low-food mileage restaurant in an old ironmongers shop in rural Somerset, and bookend your lunch at the chef’s newly-opened, all-day wine bar and épicerie, The Old Pharmacy. Merlin grows produce on his own veg plot Dreamers Farm, which/that customers will have the opportunity to enjoy in pretty small plates and toasties or to take home, along with treats such as Tamworth charcuterie and Osip’s home-fermented cider. Full review coming soon.
Burnt Orange, Brighton
Brighton’s hip new hang-out for cocktails and sharing plates
Burnt Orange is a restaurant and cocktail bar from the team behind popular Brighton foodie haunts The Salt Room and The Coal Shed. Dubbed as a hip new hang-out for adults, it has a buzzy, bar-like atmosphere and extensive cocktail list – we loved the zingy, grapefruit-based Dizzy Berry, but those who like a harder drink will enjoy the Burnt Orange martini. Designed to be shared, the food focusses on seasonal ingredients, mostly cooked over fire. Start with hot, pillowy, wood-fired flatbread slathered in sesame brown butter, and cumin-heavy hummus with crunchy hazelnuts for dunking. Dishes change with the seasons but expect starters such as hot polenta chips topped with tartare-style raw beef with gherkins and a hint of truffle, finished with grated sheep’s cheese, and perfectly salted, spiced calamari with silky, preserved lemon aïoli. Larger dishes include meltingly soft miso aubergine with soured cream, crispy onions and refreshing pops of pomegranate; tender Galician octopus swimming in a rich, spicy harissa butter sauce with roasted peppers and potatoes; and giant, juicy prawns with punchy zhoug dressing. Extra hungry? Order a side of the crispy, skillet-baked potatoes coated in a garlic and herb cream and topped with cheese – you won’t regret it.
Interactive chef’s table experiences in an elegant Georgian townhouse
In a prime spot off the leafy market square of Henley-on-Thames, a converted Georgian townhouse hosts a food lover’s hideaway. Venture through the sophisticated The Grill restaurant to the back of the building, where two elegant chef’s table dining rooms host intricate, interactive dinners. In The Thames room, sit on velvet stools, strategically placed around a sparkling open kitchen, and watch chefs pipe cheese into gougères, pincer peanuts onto passion fruit chocolate desserts, and sprinkle puffed rice onto sizzling duck breasts. Young, talented chef Alex Payne kicks off his eight-course tasting menu with Oxford sourdough, made using a 120-year-old starter originally from Italy, providing a springy base for whipped, mousse-like beef fat and cultured Irish butter. Highlights of the menu include chicken liver parfait delicately sandwiched between crisp chicken skin in a savoury spin on the Jammie Dodger, and halibut cooked in beurre noisette served with a sesame-covered Jersey Royal potatoes, celeriac purée, sweet fennel jam and sea buckthorn gel. Treat yourself to the Dine & Stay package to prolong your experience in one of the seven elegant rooms, featuring restored marble fireplaces, industrial copper lamps and roll-top, claw-foot baths.
The Elder, Bath
Sophisticated wild game suppers and lavish Sunday roasts in an elegant Georgian terrace
A series of intimate, green-panelled dining rooms make up Bath’s new restaurant from wild game chef, Mike Robinson. Dark wood floors, framed hunting paintings and terracotta-coloured leather banquettes add a lavish cosiness to the converted Georgian terrace that also houses the city’s boutique Indigo Hotel. Dinners kick off with a complimentary rosemary- and sherry-infused venison tea served with crusty, warm granary bread. Highlights of the menu include venison tartare on a squidgy brown butter crumpet, cod cheeks in a creamy guanciale sauce with puffed rice and pea purée, and an elegant black bream fillet with crisp capers and Jersey Royals. Visit on a Sunday to tuck into a sophisticated roast of perfectly pink beef, a dinky copper dish of the crunchiest golden roasties and a yorkshire pudding filled with caramelised onions and white sauce.
James Snowdon (The Harwood Arms) and Lloyd Morse (Spring, Primeur, Magdalen) have opened the ‘ultimate neighbourhood restaurant’ in a former 20-th century bank in Edinburgh’s West End. The duo work with Scottish farmers to sustainably butcher local breeds and prepare nose-to-tail dishes such as Hebridean hogget with slow-cooked fennel and chard, whole grilled mackerel with white beans and Pernod, and porchetta, wild garlic and fennel sandwiches alongside the city’s Obadiah Coffee. Full review coming soon.
Jericho neighbourhood’s new restaurant and wine bar offers more than 400 wines, including 50 available by the glass, alongside Dominique Goltinger’s seasonal small plates that highlight locally foraged ingredients. Full review coming soon.
Pony Bistro, Bristol
Siblings Josh and Holly Eggleton have taken on a warehouse behind The Bristol Beer Factory taproom to open the latest iteration of their Michelin-starred pub, Pony & Trap. This striking space spotlights Chew Valley produce to serve contemporary twists on British bistro classics, including mushroom parfait with smoked pear chutney, cured monkfish with pickled garlic stem and petits pois, and Shepton Mallet rainbow trout with asparagus. Full review coming soon.
New restaurants coming soon
Where the Light Gets In chef Sam Buckley is joining forces with sourdough baker Rosie Wilkes and potter Joe Hartley to open a bakery, deli and pottery in Stockport later this month. There will be freshly-baked loaves, swirly buns, sweet bakes and sandwiches during the day, with sourdough pizza and natural wine events on select evenings.
Reviews by Alex Crossley, Georgina Kiely, Anna Lawson, Dominic Martin, Ben Curtis