Last week, I celebrated my birthday and I was spoilt rotten, as usual, by my wonderful husband and family. True to my, and my family's taste, we saw the day in and out through the means of over eating and drinking at fantastic restaurants. It got me to thinking about other restaurants that I have been to in the UK that are great 'treat' restaurants - the ones that you go to for special occasions only. Below I have listed a handful of my ideas that I strongly recommend you add to your list of places to eat, but I'd love to hear more - just contact me here.
Ting at Shangri La
My actual birthday was on a Saturday, but on the Friday night the husband took me to the Shard in London to eat at one of its restaurants. There are several, but he plumped for Ting within the Shangri La Hotel. It was nothing short of magnificent. We had a table for two in one of the floor to ceiling windows and ate a meal that was clearly gourmet food without the pretence that the husband and I tend to err away from. We had hearty portions and left stuffed. But then most three course meals with an incredibly moreish bread basket should do. We both had crab tortellini to start, followed by steak and chips (fillet for him, rib eye for me) and shared a plate of cheese. We plumped for these a la carte choices simply because it was what we wanted to eat at the time, but there were also a couple of different tasting menus on offer, with wine pairing options. This meal and view does not come cheap, but nor was it bad value for money given the setting, service and quality on offer.
On the day of my birthday, my family and I decamped to near my home in Oxfordshire and ate at what the Good Pub Guide deemed the Oxfordshire Dining Pub of The Year. The Star in Sparsholt lived up to its well earned accolade and we ate exceptionally well. They offered hearty fare in the surroundings of a pub that looked like it could have been in a Richard Curtis movie. The service was attentive and friendly, without being cavalier - the food was simply sublime. The stand out dishes for me were my mother and husband's locally sourced game pie and my beef. I am actually salivating thinking about them, and the blue cheese dauphin that my two cuts of cow came with (rump and a melt in your mouth Jacob's ladder). Sparsholt may be in the middle of nowhere, but this pub definitely puts it on the map for me.
Even sushi haters will love this restaurant with its out of this world view, stylish interior, yummy cocktail list and its innovative yet delicious food. The menu mixes classic japanese dishes with both Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine for a match made in heaven - who knew? This place is great all year round, but really comes into its own in the summer as you can go for a meal at supper time in the light to sample the panoramic views and watch the sun go down whilst eating. Afterwards, the always packed bar is a fabulous outdoor terrace that balmy summer nights were made for. That being said, I went as a Christmas trip with the husband so dusk was fairly early that night. We still had a magical time and ate so very well.
This local eatery in a South West London suburb is a quietly elegant establishment that has no tricks up it sleeves passed delivering up good food time and time again. One of the cheaper restaurants on my list, it is also a destination suitable for celebratory breakfasts, brunches and Sunday lunches as well as supper. It serves mainly British food with a twist within homely surroundings in the winter and a pretty garden in the summer. It also has a number of rooms to stay in should you expect the interesting wine menu to get the better of you.
This Michelin starred restaurant in the leafy enclave of London is my family's go to place for any treat meal. Sometimes, if the mood takes us, the treat itself is simply the meal. It consistently delivers excellent service mixed with a seasonal three course menu for £49.50. So not every day Nando's prices by a long stretch, but also not a mortgage payment (depending on what fine wines you choose). I have always found this eatery incredibly understated, impossibly chic and always always always a memorable dining experience. Most recently, I visited to celebrate my father's retirement (true to form he is still working!), and I was not disappointed. I could write a whole blog post on the cheese board alone. If you are heading to Kew Gardens for any of their Christmas events this year, I highly recommend following it up with a trip here. A good point to note is that their lunches are exceptional value.
Happy eating readers!