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
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.
The Creameries, 406 Wilbraham Road, Manchester, M21 0SD - Visit now
The Creameries matches up to the best fine dining menus across the North, from Forest Side to The French – but at a fraction of the cost. It’s no surprise to hear that chef-owner Mary-Ellen cut her teeth in Michelin-starred kitchens – the level of care and attention to detail comes across in each dish, providing an intoxicating and at times fantastical experience.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.