Tasting Menus in The North

Ian Jones, Food and Drink Editor

Nothing says luxury more than a tasting menu. Thankfully, the North has a whole host of options for those with a burning desire for multiple courses of high-end and invariably complex and beautiful dishes. Of course, Manchester has more than its fair share, but Liverpool, Sheffield, and – no surprise – the Lake District have some of the best around.

We’ve spent a gout-inducing few months tracking down the very best, and you can spend your time, and entire bank balance, checking them all out. If you baulk at spending hundreds of pounds on a single meal then look away now. The rest of us, who realise life is made for living, can start to plough through this master list of luxury food destinations in the North.

Here are our picks

  • 1. Arras

    Arras
    Ian Jones

    Arras, The Old Coach House, Peasholme Green, York, YO1 7PW - Visit now

    Arras might be named after a French city, but the cooking isn’t especially Gallic. Rather it’s a combination of truly out-there ideas applied to largely-British ingredients, to make something far beyond the average meal out but never to the detriment of flavour. Arras is something very special indeed, and if you want to keep your tastebuds ahead of the curve this is worth a visit – but make it soon before the rest of the North catches on.

  • 2. Where The Light Gets In

    Ian Jones

    Where The Light Gets In, 7 Rostron Brow, Stockport, SK1 1JY - Visit now

    Everything you heard about Where The Light Gets In is true. It’s a remarkable experience – and indeed ‘experience’ describes it far better than a simple meal. It’s certainly not a standard tasting menu, there’s an Einstein-style level of thought and detail backing up every course. You won’t leave bloated and heavy, but with a mind fizzing with ideas and a curiosity about what, if any, other restaurants can match up.

  • 3. Restaurant MCR

    Ian Jones

    Restaurant MCR, Tower 12, 18-22 Bridge St, Manchester, M3 3BZ - Visit now

    Is Restaurant MCR worth a visit? Without doubt. Is it one of North’s best tasting menus? On tonight’s showing it’s hard to think of anywhere else doing such complex but immediately delicious cooking. Byrne’s always been the city’s best, and now he’s back to doing what he does best, and it’s hard to imagine anyone toppling him anytime soon.

  • 4. Moor Hall

    Ian Jones

    Moor Hall, Prescot Rd, Ormskirk, L39 6RT - Visit now

    L’Enclume may hold the unofficial title of the North’s finest restaurant at the moment, but not only does Moor Hall more than match up in the food stakes, it also boasts a richer, more fascinating history.

  • 5. The White Rabbit

    Ian Jones

    The White Rabbit, 1 White Hart Fold, Todmorden, OL14 7BD - Visit now

    The White Rabbit is very unique, and very British. Fun and childlike excitement run through the entire menu and it’d take a heart of stone not to be charmed by owners Robyn and David. Every dish evokes a long-lost childhood memory, and each sip of the paired wine lifts it to new heights. If you’re a fan of the more well-know high-end restaurants, but want to try something more intimate and just flat-out fun, head down the White Rabbit hole.

  • 6. Forest Side Restaurant

    Forest Side Restaurant
    North Atlantic Cod, Peas, Oyster, Dill

    Forest Side Restaurant, Keswick Road, Grasmere, Ambleside, LA22 9RN - Visit now

    In just a couple of years, Forest Side has become 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.

  • 7. The Art School Restaurant

    Ian Jones

    The Art School Restaurant, 1 Sugnall Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L7 7DX - Visit now

    The Art School’s tasting menu differs from most, in that rather than a series of tiny plates the dishes are fewer in number but gradually increase in size and intensity, reaching a crescendo with the masterpiece plate of Galloway beef – easily one of the top ten dishes in the North. The experience doesn’t come cheap but event dining of this quality rarely does.

  • 8. The French

    The French - One of Manchester's finest restaurants - Creative Tourist
    Photos by author

    The French, The Midland Hotel, Peter Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M20 2DS - Visit now

    Is Adam Reid at The French better than his predecessor Simon Rogan at The French? Well, the food is as stunning as ever but the overall experience tips the balance in the new boy’s favour. Adam has a better grasp on what makes Manchester tick, making things less fussy, more relaxed, and, at times, gloriously silly.

  • 9. Rafters

    Ian Jones

    Rafters, 220 Oakbrook Rd, Sheffield, S11 7ED - Visit now

    Rafters isn’t the kind of place you stop by for a quick bite to eat. It’s an experience that requires an entire evening, taking in elements of theatre and ideas and cooking techniques up there with Simon Rogan. It’s a credit to Sheffield, and food lovers of the North should make it a priority visit.

  • 10. L’Enclume

    Photos by author

    L’Enclume, Cavendish Street, Cartmel, Cumbria, LA11 6PZ - Visit now

    The name L’Enclume is a byword for upscale fine dining in the North, and recent years have seen a steady procession of its chefs leaving the nest and launching their own cutting-edge restaurants. The food at all these places is no less than remarkable, and the original still stands tall.

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