Best new UK restaurants
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.
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.
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.
James Snowdon (The Harwood Arms) and Lloyd Morse (Spring, Primeur, Magdalen) are opening the ‘ultimate neighbourhood restaurant’ in a former 19th century bank in Edinburgh’s West End. The duo will work with Scottish farmers to sustainably butcher local breeds and prepare nose-to-tail dishes such as East Neuk mutton chops, whole grilled mackerel with white beans and Pernod, and porchetta, wild garlic and fennel sandwiches.
Lilac, Lyme Regis
Chef Harriet Mansell’s second coastal spot swiftly follows the success of Robin Wylde, opened in autumn 2020. This casual neighbourhood wine bar will focus on low-intervention wines accompanied by small plates showcasing the West Country’s wild and handcrafted produce. We’ve spotted lobster on the fire with strawberry, rose and verbena, and tempura sea vegetables with smoked roe, elderflower and mint dressing on the preview menu.
Reviews by Alex Crossley, Georgina Kiely, Anna Lawson