The great outdoors: eating alfresco in the UK

With summer upon us and the wonderful world of British restaurants open to us once again, the biggest problem is choosing where to head to first. To help you make the most of alfresco dining, we asked our team of experts which restaurants and pubs they’re booking to soak up the sun and enjoy exceptional food

Hive Beach Café Dorset

'Spider crabs, lobsters and Portland oysters – the perfect seafood triumvirate, in my view. Luckily, I never have to choose between them as the seafood platter is my go-to order at the lovely family run Hive Beach Café. You’re on the shingled shores of Burton Bradstock, on the Jurassic Coast, and heading there for a platter, fish and chips (hake in a lovely crispy batter) or a simple hand-picked crab sandwich has been a family summer tradition for years. Everything is seasonal, sustainable and delicious.’

Gregor Rankin, Publisher, Food and Travel

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Coach House North Yorkshire

‘This was the first place I went to after lockdown lifted last summer. Set within the sweeping grounds of Richmond’s Middleton Lodge, it’s everything that’s good about the UK’s dining scene. An unpretentious menu is filled with produce straight from their walled kitchen garden, influenced by global flavours and topped up by the best from the county’s top suppliers. From wild garlic soup and pearl barley risotto with grilled leeks and Yorkshire blue, to saltburn crab with pickled vegetables and wood-fired flatbread, and roast pork belly with smoked potato and garden vegetables, picking your order is the hardest part of any visit. A postprandial wander through the estate’s woodland is a must before you leave.’

Blossom Green, Deputy Editor, Food and Travel


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The Mash Inn Buckinghamshire

‘Live-fire cooking adds an extra dimension to food and is the ethos behind The Mash Inn; their playful cooking and bold flavours really add a spark. The head chef, Jon Parry, has created a set menu centred on uncomplicated yet clever dishes with interesting elements you don’t usually find, such as bog butter, which is home-churned butter wrapped in herbs. Sustainability is at the core here, with fermenting, pickling and foraging being an intricate part of the tasting experience – expect hay mayonnaise, moreish flatbreads and wood-fired leeks.

Nothing goes to waste and drinks are infused with fruit peelings and herbs, too. You’ll dine in a pretty marquee decorated with hanging dried flowers, with luscious green fields as far as the eye can see. Enjoy all this with a bottle of English sparkling wine as the gentle scent of wood smoke drifts through.’

Helen Graves, Editor, Pit Magazine

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Rockfish Devon

‘Sea-to-stove cooking doesn’t get any closer than this, as you sit on a terrace that overlooks the spot where all the fish in England’s biggest fishing port gets landed. It then heads pretty much straight to the charcoal grills to be served up with unlimited chips, carefully curated wines or local beers. Literally part of Brixham Fish Market, here you eat what’s in season, whether that’s chubby scallops roasted in shells or a prized turbot caught that day from the restaurant’s boat.’

Alex Mead, Editor, Food and Travel

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The Rectory Hotel Wiltshire

'Hidden in the village of Crudwell, sandwiched between rolling hills and stone cottages, this Cotswolds retreat is a proper breath of country air. Local and seasonal ingredients take centre stage on the menu – highlights are freshly baked sourdough, and roast lamb and potato terrine, with Florentine doughnuts or refreshing blood orange sorbet to finish. There’s a lengthy list of old-world wines or pop over the road to the sister pub, The Potting Shed, for a local ale.’

Xanthe Clay, food writer

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Lord Poulett Arms Somerset

'Situated in a quaint village of Hinton Saint George, this beautiful Georgian mansion pub is my number one choice for lunch. They have a quintessential British flavour profile you don’t always find in other places – think tangy rhubarb and sharp gooseberries – and produce from high-quality local farms on the menu. Surrounded by glorious walking country, there are famous cheddar cheese farmsteads and cider distilleries nearby, too, making it the perfect base for the ultimate Somerset experience.’

Rosemary Barron, food, wine and travel writer

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River Restaurant, Lowry Hotel Manchester

‘Skirting the edge of the city, adjacent to the River Irwell, the sun-catching terrace of the River Restaurant hosts the best views of new Manchester. You’ll find a modern Anglo- European menu with seasonal produce at the forefront. Share stone-baked flatbreads, crispy calamari and an extensive meat board with friends overlooking Trinity suspension bridge. And don’t miss the cocktails - the Bee Keeper is made with honey from the hotel’s beehives. Sophisticated, contemporary and only a five-minute walk from the centre, it manages to feel discreet and serene.’

Clarissa Hyman, food and travel writer

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