Sometimes we just want to gorge on glorious gastronomy, to cram comely cuisine in our craws and swig stunning slugs of beautiful beverages in amazing alimentary arenas. Yes, we’ve swallowed a thesaurus and we’re talking fine dining. We’ve compiled a list of the best restaurants from around our network.
Head to Petersfield Station (10-minute walk)
The Michelin inspectors popped into JSW and dropped off a star while saying: “The confident chef delivers well-judged, classical cooking with recognisable combinations of ingredients and a touch of originality.” The produce is the star here, with properly locally-sourced grub of the highest order elevated to excellence by little twists, and not overwhelmed by technique. What’s more, the food is as elegant as the 17th Century coaching inn setting. For the full experience, you can even take a tasting menu with a wine flight and an overnight stay in one of JSW’s beautifully minimalist rooms for B&-excellent-B.
The Black Rat
Head to Winchester station (20-minute walk)
Housed in a converted pub The Black Rat has a cosy Mrs Miggin’s Pie Shoppe feel and serves seasonal food with some herbs and veg from their own allotment down the road. It’s also, for this category of restaurant, reasonable value: they recommend budgeting between £38 – £46 per person (without wine).
So successful has Winchester’s only Michelin-starred restaurant been that you can top and tail your meal with the hospitality on offer at their sister establishments. Try some real ale at the Black Boy Pub; head to the Black Bottle for a spot of fine wining, then get your head down at the Black Hole B&B.
Head to Christchurch (8-minute taxi)
Perched right on the water’s edge, The Jetty is all about relaxation, great local food and an eclectic selection of wines. Described by the Sunday Telegraph as “both sophisticated and fun, the food is excellent yet approachable and the setting is magical”, this stunning restaurant has received much local and national acclaim – including the ‘Taste of the South West’ accolade. From local oysters and shrimps to delicious roasts, taste the region’s finest flavours against the backdrop of spectacular harbour views.
Head to Bristol Temple Meads (6-minute taxi)
Drop in for a relaxed and authentic Andalusian tapas vibe with excellent Spanish wines and fantastic sherries that are more than a match for the flavour-filled morsels you’re served. Paco Tapas won its Michelin star within a year of opening and is part of a triptych of foodie destinations run by the Sanchez family in a buzzing waterside location. Casamia is the inventive, modern-dining experience that first won the hearts of locals, the press and the Michelin inspectors. It has a stunning open kitchen where you can watch the chefs in action while you tuck in. The final Sanchez spin-off is the Pi Shop – serving classic and speciality pizzas for when you’re in a more casual mood.
The Clock House Restaurant
Head to Woking (15-minute taxi)
A visit to Woking is always worthwhile but even as a stopping off point for the beautiful village of Ripley, catching the train here is a pleasure and a half. Ripley is as English as an English village gets: redbrick cottages, half-timbered houses and even a clock house. The latter is actually a red brick Georgian restaurant and – yep, you guessed it – it has a Michelin Star for its best-of-British menu that brings ingredients from north and south and twists them together in mouthwatering fashion. The Clock House is the epitome of a ‘destination restaurant’ the food, service and atmosphere all first-class – it was voted Surrey’s Best Restaurant in 2018 – and it’s all parcelled up in the wonder that is Ripley.
Head to Kew Bridge (20-minute walk)
The Glasshouse is every bit as good as its reputation and as a result, has successfully maintained its Michelin star since 2002. Aiming to keep to their position as a neighbourhood restaurant, owners Nigel Platts-Martin and Bruce Poole, along with front of house aficionado Kern Gohre, strive to provide the very best food and service within a warm and friendly environment. Make sure you save room for desert, cheese is an integral part of the restaurant’s daily life and you can choose your own delicious selection from an impressive board.
Tudor Room at Great Fosters Hotel
Head to Egham (20-minute walk)
When it says the Tudor Room, it’s not kidding. Set in a Grade One listed, Elizabethan hotel the restaurant couldn’t be more Tudor if it was draped with one of Henry VIII’s fanciest ermine jackets. With three AA rosettes and a Michelin to boot, this is fine dining in a superior setting. The sample menu offers intriguing combinations like Scallop with pistachio, cauliflower and sherry alongside the less enigmatic (but no less enticing) Pork: loin, belly, cheek, piccalilli.
Head to Portsmouth & Southsea (8-minute taxi)
As Portsmouth's ONLY 2 AA Rosette Restaurant, Restaurant 27 is the perfect place to go for a special occasion such as Mother’s Day. You’ll be treated to some ‘global French’ cuisine – a blend of classic gastronomic cooking with the modern flavours of today. With 4 8-course sampling menus to choose from, there’s something for everyone, from Rabbit & potato pie to Pumpkin & thyme risotto. It is a real hidden gem and fully deserves its sparkling reputation. Why not round off a delightful meal with a walk along Southsea beach?