Though the nights are stretching ever longer, there is no need for doom and gloom, as thefoodpeople have been busy finding the latest treats to keep you satisfied as autumn rolls ever rapidly winter.
Terre a Terre, Brighton
As a vegan – and former vegetarian – I've been used to scouring menus for 'V', 'VE', 'VG' as well as for various ingredients before making my (limited) choice. Visiting a restaurant where I have the entire menu to choose from, therefore, is simultaneously wonderful and yet slightly daunting! All the more so when the food across the board at said restaurant is of such stand-out quality as is the case with Brighton's gem – Terre a Terre.
It's been a staple of the Brighton dining scene for coming up to 30 years, yet it feels as fresh as ever. The décor remains warm and comfortable without feeling staid or dated, and the retention rate among their staff speaks to a quality of care and environment that's reflected in the food.
In my vegetarian days, the 'Better Batter and Lemony Yemeni Relish' (complete with a vodka-spiked tomato!) was my all-time favourite, but as a semi-recent vegan convert I'm very much enjoying exploring the rest of the menu – a combination of regular favourites with a rotating cast of bang-on-trend dishes.
If you're in Brighton, it's simply a no-brainer (but do remember to book ahead…!)
Rochelle Canteen, London
One of my all time favourite restaurants in the UK is Rochelle Canteen in London. It's the epitome of flavour forward cooking, skilled but understated, stunning but never flashy... The chefs just know to make ingredients sing, and the dining room is lovely whatever time of year you go.
Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Port Isaac, Cornwall
Not only my favourite restaurant but one of my favourite meals ever! Overlooking the gorgeous Cornish coastline from Port Isaac no matter where you're sat, the views are worthy of a visit alone. Teamed with the freshest seafood from down the road (quite literally!), the flavours and natural respect for every ingredient shines through which when served in a relaxed dining room atmosphere, compliments the entire meal.
Rovi because I love all the Middle Eastern flavours, plus Ottolenghi is just a genius with vegetables – he uses texture and spices in such a way that really add depth to plant based dishes. The cocktails are also delicious.
It's been open for a few years and Oklava has been going from strength to strength, its little sister Kyseri in Fitzrovia has just passed its 1 year anniversary and doing an equally good job. The menu is a selection of big and small plates inspired by Turkish and Cypriot dining. The flavours are unusual and a delightful surprise while the atmosphere and people make you feel at home. The lahmucan flatbread is served with a punchy pickle salad which you wrap up to create the best kebab you've ever had.
64 Degrees, Brighton
Its local, consistently fantastic and great value considering the skills, quality of ingredients and flavours produced by Michael and the team. The food is always innovative and the space and feel intimate due to the small number of covers and the open kitchen, sit at the counter, watch and interact with the chefs and enjoy.
The Black Swan, Oldsted, North Yorkshire
Sarah W says:
The Black Swan is a family owned restaurant, run by the UK's youngest Michelin starred chef- Tommy Banks. While the tasting menu is adventurous and unique, it's the passion for using local produce that also shines through. The crapaudine beetroot cooked in beef fat is a signature dish, and grown in the kitchen garden next door to the restaurant. Many of the ingredients are also foraged in the local hedgerows and woods surrounding Oldstead; the same woods that we often take our dog for a walk. From squash with wild garlic to cicely custard topping a rhubarb and clotted cream parfait, each dish was truly delicious, and came with a back story specific to the local area. The smells and theatre surrounding the smoking douglas fir dessert that was brought out as one of the last dishes was truly memorable. This restaurant is my favourite ever, and highly recommended.
It would be my hometown's Noble restaurant, just outside Belfast in Northern Ireland. It matches high quality ingredients in a very informal setting, together with friendly and fun service. Their showcasing of the best products from Northern Ireland is really special, including anything from local butcher/meat/food legend Hannan Meats, with their Himalayan salt aged beef mainstays on the a la carte and daily specials menus. If you are ever in the neighbourhood then I cannot recommend it enough.