Got an important milestone coming up, but not sure where to book dinner? Well, SquareMeal, the online independent restaurant guide, has announced its top 100 restaurants, as voted for by foodies and customers.
Instead of working your way through the whole lot, we’ve narrowed down some of the best venues and paired them, like fine wines, with those moments when only a slap up meal will do.
Occasion: Birthday with friends
Restaurant: Oli’s Thai, Oxford
Why? It’s cute, quirky, intimate and the flavours are huge – perfect for nattering and nibbling with mates.
Order the… Jungle curry or the Thai banquet.
Occasion: Anniversary dinner
Restaurant: The Fat Duck, Maidenhead
Why? Because when else can you indulge yourself so spectacularly? Chef Heston Blumenthal knows how to wow at his three-star Michelin restaurant – this’ll be one meal you never forget/fully understand.
Order the… ‘Sounds of the sea’ – a dish of seafood eaten while wearing headphones, being serenaded by the seashore.
Occasion: “Date night”
Restaurant: Sticky Walnut, Cheshire
Why? Because you want something a bit fancy, but not too fussy, and with a fairly quick turnaround so you can get back, rescue the babysitter and still be in bed by a reasonable hour. These guys do beautiful but affordable food, and lots of nifty two and three-course deals.
Order the… Rosemary and thyme focaccia to start, then follow it up with the pea risotto and burrata.
Occasion: First date
Restaurant: The Clink, Cardiff
Why? Eating dinner in a fully operating prison, and being served by prisoners themselves, will certainly give you something to talk about on a first date, and if conversation falters, at least you know you’re supporting the rehabilitation of offenders, and getting fed well in the process.
Order the… Crab ravioli and pan-fried sea-trout.
Occasion: Meeting the parents (or treating your own)
Restaurant: Morston Hall, Holt, Norfolk
Why? The building’s Jacobean, it’s got a lovely, flower-filled conservatory and green rolling lawns – and it’s not far from Blakeney Point, so you can go for a walk and see Norfolk’s seals off the coast, post-civilised parental lunch.
Order the… Sunday lunch set menu (£40pp) – it changes every week, but the herb crusted lamb is said to be incredible.
Check out SquareMeal’s full top 100 restaurants list here.
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