Seasonal Dinings: Our must-visit restaurants with sustainable values
Our pick of exceptional British restaurants making the most of fresh, seasonal ingredients from land, sea and air – for menus with a conscience.
One of the hottest tables in town. This rooftop space, in the Sky Garden on the 37th floor of 20 Fenchurch Street, aka the Walkie Talkie, offers west-facing views of the capital and sublime contemporary British food. Dress code is smart and prices are undeniably business class, but the surroundings, ambience, service and food make for a truly one-of-a-kind experience. The tasting menu ticks all the boxes, with carefully sourced British ingredients that evolve throughout the year. Mains include seared Cornish squid, charred calçot onions and three-cornered leek sabayon, and roast rack of Iron Age pork, beluga lentils, Tokyo turnips and pickled mustard seeds. Start an evening visit with a Notting Hill cocktail overlooking the city’s twinkling lights – a glorious concoction of graanjenever, sherry, vanilla, lemon and walnut bitters. skygarden.london/fenchurch-restaurant
Yynshir is a restaurant with rooms set in 11 acres on the coast of mid-Wales, near Snowdonia National Park. The incongruously remote setting is somewhat at odds with the super-modern, uncompromising, Japanese-influenced offering, but it’s a formula that works and the restaurant has been plied with accolades and awards aplenty. For something really special, try the 19-course tasting menu, which can only be described as a four-hour gastronomic journey of flavour, texture and ingredients. Best of Welsh ingredients include locally foraged sea herbs from the estuary and greens from woods and gardens. Chef-owner, Gareth Ward, and his team also pickle, salt, ferment and preserve fruits, leaves and berries to flavour whatever is in season. During hunting season expect venison, partridge or pheasant, and in summer, Welsh lamb.
Heckfield Place, Hampshire
Skye Gyngell’s name is almost synonymous with the slow food movement, and her first venture, the stunning Petersham Nurseries, is where she earned her Michelin star. Skye is now culinary director of the splendid Heckfield Place, a beautiful Georgian pile lovingly restored into a hotel with two veg-centric restaurants – the light, bright Marle and Hearth (for residents only). The business barely wastes anything and everything is grown biodynamically in the 400-acre grounds. Seeds are sown and crops harvested according to the lunar calendar. Everything consumed is carefully planned – and rather than being scrapped, cauliflower and beetroot leaves or carrot tops are a source of inspiration. Robust slow cooking at Marle makes for natural, authentic dishes like soft curd cheese dumplings with squash, rainbow chard, brown butter and dukkah. heckfieldplace.com
Gardener’s Cottage, Edinburgh
Slow, seasonal and sustainable are the watchwords for this deceptively low-key Scottish restaurant. Located in a cosy stone house dating back to 1826 that was once, as the name suggests, a gardener’s cottage, it now serves up impressive food prepared with utmost thought and care. Each dish includes whatever is available locally or grown in the garden. From the small open kitchen, chef-owner Dale Mailley and his team conduct dizzyingly inventive dishes like hand-dived scallops, razor clam, brown shrimps and sauce vierge, followed by dark chocolate and sea buckthorn pudding. Not a place for a quiet meal a deux – with its long communal tables in two tiny rooms, it has the lively, convivial feel of eating at someone’s home.
Rogan & Co, Lake District
Next door to the high-end L’Enclume is chef-owner Simon Rogan’s ‘other’ venture: Rogan & Co, a casual but unforgettable neighbourhood restaurant in the Cumbrian village of Cartmel. The menus are regularly reimagined, featuring dishes made with carefully sourced ingredients from trusted growers in the region, many of them grown on Simon’s own farm nearby. This is innovative food that treads lightly. Everything that makes it on to diners’ plates is grown within a few miles and ingredients are harvested in their prime. Think roasted wild duck, riesling cabbage and quince, or caramelised potatoes, smoked eel and buttermilk cream. The three-course lunch menu is excellent value at under £30.
Just off the seafront in Margate, located a stone’s throw from the Turner Contemporary gallery, is Angela’s – a small, unflashy restaurant serving delicious, ethically sourced, sustainable seafood, alongside simple, vegetable-based dishes. The interiors are dominated by an impressive view of the wide sky, clouds and beach, and the menu is similarly inspired by nature. This is a restaurant that works creatively to minimise its impact on the planet, while never compromising on flavour or quality. Angela’s works with the nearby Windmill Community Gardens to turn the restaurant’s food into compost and reduce the amount of waste that might otherwise end up in the landfill. And the eco-conscience doesn’t stop there – even the table tops are made from recycled plastic bags. The daily changing menu is dictated by what is fresh from the boats that morning. Pair your MSC-certified seafood with a glass of ‘low-intervention’ wine from Sussex vineyard, Tillingham. angelasofmargate.com
Riverford Field Kitchen, Devon
Nowhere embraces the farm-to-fork philosophy quite like this restaurant, located just a few metres from Riverford’s kitchen garden and farm fields. The menu changes daily depending on what’s available. Expect dishes with organic veg at the heart of each plate, such as sweetheart cabbage slaw with apple, fennel and hazelnut, and cauliflower, whipped feta and almond. That’s not to say they don’t serve meat – but it’s about quality, not quantity, and will always be accompanied by hero vegetables (we loved the roast leg of lamb with pomegranate and honey, crispy kale and garlic yoghurt). Fresh flavours and top-notch ingredients come together, just as strangers do around their communal tables, all here to celebrate the bounty of the British countryside. There’s only one sitting per evening, so advanced booking is a must – the chef only cooks for exactly how many mouths he has to feed. Expect a relaxed, wholesome supper club vibe.
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