The North of England has a global standing when it comes to food and drink. And there’s plenty to choose from. Look around and you’ll find a new place to eat and drink on every corner, from high-end cuisine to smash-and-dash dining, street food and pop-up bars. You could eat and drink somewhere new every day for a year, and still be left wanting.
Of course, some venues are better than others. Despite the Michelin star squad’s suspicious aversion to the Manchester’s food scene, the city contains some of the best chefs and mixologists in the country, and equally, Sheffield, Liverpool, Leeds and Lancashire all have their own must-go destinations.
Whether you’re a born and bred local or visiting the North for the day, here are five of the best places to spend your money, fill your belly and wet your whistle. This list is updated each month, so keep checking back for the latest and greatest places to eat and drink.
Here are our picks
Forest Side Restaurant, Keswick Road, Grasmere, Ambleside, LA22 9RN - Visit now
In just under eighteen months, Forest Side has become home to one of Cumbria’s most outstanding restaurants. Suitably, considering his surname, Kevin Tickle’s tasting menu brims over with sheer fun – full of lively colours and playful imagery that enhance the brilliance of each dish. This is more than matched by the front-of-house, who are some of the most engaging and entertaining waiting staff in the North of England.
The Refuge, Oxford Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M60 7HA - Visit now
The Refuge is the latest culinary showcase for Electric Chair DJs Luke Cowdrey and Justin Crawford, who made their mark on the city’s food scene with the success of their Didsbury restaurant-cum-bar Volta. It’s the in-house restaurant of Manchester’s Palace Hotel, following a multi-million pound redesign. With its inclusive feel, The Refuge is a palatial but welcoming hang-out that manages to be elegant while never feeling stuffy. It’s a truly Mancunian take on quality dining, headed by two of the city’s most notable figures doing what they do best.
Oisoi, 2 St Paul's Place, Sheffield, S1 2FJ - Visit now
It’s no surprise Oisoi makes a disciple of everyone who eats there. The basics are covered – beautifully fresh ingredients, a relaxed atmosphere and an appealing layout – but the reason every seat is full is the food itself. This is forward-thinking oriental food with incredible attention to detail – no lazy chow meins here, even the classics have been refined to the point where you won’t find anything like this elsewhere in Sheffield.
Cloud 23, 303 Deansgate, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M3 4LQ - Visit now
Cloud 23 towers above the city in more ways than one. Afternoon tea is fast-becoming an arms race in Manchester, with all manner of options across the city but nothing is quite as forward-thinking or straight-up fun as this one. Mrs Beeton might not approve but, well, that’s kind of the point.
L’Enclume, Cavendish Street, Cartmel, Cumbria, LA11 6PZ - Visit now
L’Enclume is regularly lauded as Britain’s best fine dining restaurant so surely should top this month’s list of best restaurants? Sadly not. Despite the food being excellent, a number of front-of-house issues meant this meal was less enjoyable than the sky-high pricetag would suggest. It’s well worth a visit if you haven’t been before, but fine dining aficionados should consider newcomers Forest Side and Moor Hall – both of which have the edge when it comes to forward-thinking food and customer service.