Wild Honey St James Dining Room Evening

Star Players

From country inns to a basement chef’s counter, Ben McCormack introduces the newly awarded Michelin-starred restaurants in London and beyond, with a brace each for Scotland and Wales

SY32 Restaurant Aberystwyth, Wales

The name references the restaurant’s Aberystwyth postcode and for diners who make it to this spot in the far west of Wales the reward is exemplary cooking from Nathan Davies, who was formerly the head chef of Gareth Ward’s two-starred Ynyshir. Not only does SY23 have its own new Michelin star, but the red guide also named it as its opening of the year. There’s clearly no shortage of ambition on a tasting menu that showcases labour- intensive techniques for local ingredients from crab and turbot to wood sorrel and black garlic (see scallop, seaweed, burnt butter), well-balanced flavours and the primal satisfaction that comes from cooking on a grill.

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sy23restaurant.com

Home By James Sommerin Penarth, Wales

His self-titled restaurant closed during the first lockdown of 2020; now James Sommerin is back with this intimate project nearby, where diners must ring a doorbell to be admitted to a dining room with blacked-out windows. But the chef wants you to feel relaxed enough to ‘kick your shoes off under the table’ and the labour-of-love, family feel is underlined by the fact that the only two chefs in the open kitchen are James and his daughter Georgia. On offer is an eight-course ‘Surprise’ menu, which changes according to which ingredients are best each day, so you’ll never have the same meal twice. Four courses are available at lunch in case you’re pressed for time.

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homeatpenarth.co.uk

Frog By Adam Handling Covent Garden, London

Adam Handling has been one of the brightest talents on the UK restaurant scene since becoming the first-ever apprentice chef at Gleneagles hotel in Scotland. He’s hit his stride at this Covent Garden flagship, which combines meticulously crafted cooking with a cool, contemporary sheen in both the ground-floor dining room and basement bar, Eve. Chairs are angled to look into an open kitchen where signature dishes such as lobster cooked in wagyu fat, and veal sweetbread tortellini, ragù, truffle, are prepared, while high prices (five-course tasting menu, £125) are merited by high-end ingredients. A separate fully plant-based tasting menu is an added bonus.

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frogbyadamhandling.com

Sollip Southwark, London

It helps to know a little about the CVs of Sollip’s Korean husband-and-wife chefs Woongchul Park and Bomee Ki. He used to work at The Ledbury, she’s an ex-pastry chef of The Arts Club and they met in London’s Le Cordon Bleu cookery school. The east-meets-west culinary heritage is reflected in a tasting menu that showcases classical European cooking reinterpreted through Korean technique: tarte tatin made with daikon rather than apple then combined with toasted barley, roasted potato and burnt hay, for instance; other highlights include spring lamb, hongsam, langoustine. The serene L-shaped room, meanwhile, is decorated with objects handpicked by the couple.

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sollip.co.uk

Kol Maylebone, London

The hottest of hot tables, this game-changing restaurant has transformed Londoners’ perception of Mexican food – in this case, inspired by British produce. Chef Santiago Lastra headed up the Noma Mexico pop-up, so he’s no stranger to northern European ideas or wild ingredients: witness a taco of langoustine, smoked chilli and sea buckthorn, although witty touches such as providing scissors to cut through an octopus tentacle stop things feeling too serious.

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kolrestaurant.com

Trivet Southwark, London

Owned by a pair of former Fat Duck staff – chef Jonny Lake and sommelier Isa Bal – Trivet’s neutrally decorated surrounds form a calming backdrop to a reassuringly short menu with the confidence to offer just five or six options for starters and mains – and, unusually given his pedigree, no tasting menu. Jonny has jettisoned molecular gastronomy in favour of contemporary spins on classic French cooking, while Isa’s 350-strong wine list can also be sampled in the standalone bar.

Evelyn's Table Soho, London

It might be named after the femme fatale of Roman Polanski’s film noir Chinatown, but there’s nothing remotely dark and moody about this tiny 12-seater chef’s counter in the basement of West End pub The Blue Posts, where it’s more than likely you’ll be on first-name terms with your fellow diners by the end of the evening. The talented trio of Selby brothers Luke (who, having won the Roux Scholarship in 2017, chose to train in Japan), Nat and Theo turn out extraordinary five-course menus from the open kitchen that meld British produce with French training and Japanese technique – torched mackerel with crème fraîche, greengages and gooseberries, say – while drinks pairings champion the likes of saké as much as wine.

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theblueposts.co.uk

Wild Honey St James St James's, London

This second iteration of Wild Honey may lack the cosy charm of the much-missed Mayfair original, but Anthony Demetre’s distinctively seasonal cooking is arguably even better in this large corner site within the Sofitel. The signature crispy chicken with hand-cut macaroni is the sort of dish that defies categorisation, except to say that it is simply delicious, while the accompaniments are just as much of an attraction as the star ingredient in dishes such as Denbighshire Welsh lamb with January king cabbage, fresh sheep’s ricotta and the restaurant’s own wild honey.

The Barn at Moor Hill Lancashire

This more casual offshoot of two-Michelin-starred MoorHall in Aughton combines rural charm (lake views, banks of azaleas) with a buzzy, urban and, most importantly, relaxed vibe. Produce from the surrounding farmland is to the fore on the menu: 60-day aged Jersey beef tartare with Jerusalem artichoke and nasturtium is the kitchen’s signature dish. Tables of up to 10 make this a great option for family gatherings and birthdays, while there are seats outside on the spacious terrace for when the sun shines.

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moorhall.com

Meadowsweet Norfolk

Greg Anderson is known to locals from his time as head chef at nearby Michelin-starred Morston Hall. His partner Rebecca Williams looks after front of house at this restaurant-with-rooms in Holt where everything feels charmingly personal. Touches include entering the dining room through the garden of the Georgian house, and cutlery kept in a drawer of the handmade tables. The food is no less detail-oriented, with local ingredients such as Hindolveston lamb with wild garlic and artichoke delivered to the table by the chefs.

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meadowsweetholt.com

Bridge Arms Kent

This is the village pub of Bridge resident Dan Smith, who is also the chef and owner of the Michelin-starred Fordwich Arms on the other side of Canterbury, which won its star within a year of opening. He’s pulled off a repeat trick here, and while the atmosphere in the 16th-century coaching inn is still in the style of local boozer, the food is very much gastro destination. Local ingredients cooked over charcoal from a nearby Kentish woodland is the focus. And being ten miles from the sea, south- coast seafood figures large on the seasonal menu, with the likes of whole monkfish tail for two; hand-dived scallop with garlic butter; and whipped cods’ roe and linseed crispbreads; allwashed down with beer on tap.

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bridgearms.co.uk

Upstairs By Tom Shepherd Staffordshire

Having built up a loyal following in the Midlands with senior roles at Adam’s in Birmingham and Sat Bains in Nottingham, Tom Shepherd’s self-titled debut above his father’s jewellery shop in Lichfield has cemented his local-hero status. The smart contemporary space reflects the theme of craftsmanship, with an open kitchen catering for a mere 24 diners; three-course lunches and seven-course tasting menus involve beautifully presented plates and striking pairings of ingredients, and an interesting vegetarian tasting menu is also on offer, with such gems as salt baked celeriac, salsa verde and dashi, or Jerusalem artichoke, Comté, truffle porridge and kale. A chef’s table, cocktail bar and roof terrace are further attractions.

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Pine Northumberland

The location of a Michelin-starred restaurant on the first floor of a converted barn surrounded by the rolling fields of Northumberland might come as a surprise, but it would be even more of a shock in a setting like this if Pine were not pioneering an ultra-local and sustainable approach to fine dining. For this reason, the East Wallhouses restaurant has also been found deserving of a Michelin Green star. The namesake pine is among the many foraged ingredients on a 16-course tasting menu that also includes courses such as snowball turnip, fennel yoghurt with fermented plum, while pastry specialist Cal Byerley ends things with a further six courses of sweets.

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restaurantpine.co.uk

Unalome By Graeme Cheevers Glasgow, Scotland

The first solo restaurant of Graeme Cheevers – ex Isle of Eriska Hotel and Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond – brings a second star to Glasgow, and it’s not hard to see why: this is fine dining from the old school, with all the bells and whistles of canapés, pre- desserts and wine flights, brought up to date with modern-luxe surrounds. A vegetarian tasting menu complements an omnivore offering using prime Scottish ingredients.

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unalomebygc.com

Dog and Gunn Inn Cumbria

With its exposed beams, open fire and cosy furnishings, Skelton’s Dog and Gun looks every inch the old-fashioned, unassuming village pub – until, that is, your menu arrives offering a choice of dishes along the lines of Maryport scallops with celeriac purée, celery pickle and toasted hazelnuts, or Cartmel Valley venison suet pudding, beetroot cooked in duck fat, beer and caraway mustard. Chef Ben Queen-Fryer is Cumbrian to his fingertips and he knows exactly how to put his own stamp on the produce of his native county without losing sight of what makes the ingredients so special in the first place. As if to prove the point, he’s even added some hand-crafted small-batch bottled sodas to his arsenal.

The Glenturret Lalique Perthshire, Scotland

This collaboration between The Glenturret, Scotland’s oldest working distillery, and French crystal house Lalique landed a star within just seven months of opening in Crieff. That isn’t, perhaps, all that surprising when one learns that chef Mark Donald previously held a star at Number One at The Balmoral in Edinburgh. Served under two spectacular five-tier chandeliers, the tasting menu at The Glenturret Lalique showcases high-end ingredients that match the luxury branding: tattie scone with winter truffle and baerii platinum caviar, say, or Dover sole with white asparagus and black olive. For whisky aficionados, The Glenturret flights served in Lalique glassware in the bar are a must-try house speciality.

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