The resilience of the local food scene is proving triumphant as four out of five of the UK’s best restaurants in 2021 are in the north of England.
The winners from this year’s National Restaurant Awards have been announced last night, and for the first time ever, there are more restaurants and eateries in northern England on the prestigious list than there are in London.
The region has 16 restaurants in the top 40, which is double the number in 2019 – the last time the poll was held.
Thom Hetherington, the chief executive of Northern Restaurant and Bar and a judge for the awards, said the north’s achievement in this year’s standings was “frankly astounding” in a scene that is traditionally so dominated by the capital, and even more so during a brutal year for the hospitality sector thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And if it wasn’t brilliant enough that the northern food scene is reigning supreme, the North West, and in particular Greater Manchester, has a lot to shout about too.
Two restaurants in Ancoats made it into the top 50 of the UK’s 100 best restaurants.
Mana – the city’s first Michelin-starred restaurant, which is tipped to earn its second later this year – has made a huge climb from its previous position at 73 to take the 11th spot on the list, and fellow Ancoats neighbourhood restaurant Erst also celebrated a big win by taking 47th place – which it said on social media was “more than we could’ve ever imagined”.
But which restaurant claimed the coveted top spot this year?
Again, it goes to a North West gem just over the border into Lancashire and about 45-minute drive from Manchester.
Double Michelin-starred restaurant Moor Hall Restaurant was named the best in the UK for the second year running.
The revered restaurant in Aughton near Ormskirk is headed up by former L’Enclume executive chef Mark Birchall, who said of the eatery’s win on Twitter last night: “What an incredible achievement. Number 1 again in the National Restaurant Awards.
“Testament to every member of the team [and] I’m truly proud once again – the journey continues.”
Elsewhere in the top five list, second place went to country pub The Angel at Hetton – a little over an hour from Manchester near Skipton – which also scooped up ‘Gastropub of the Year’, and Cumbria’s L’Enclume made it to fifth place.
Other well-known northern restaurants on the top 100 list include The Cottage in the Woods in Windemere, The Parker’s Arms in Northcote, The White Swan at Fence, Freemasons at Wiswelland, and Lake Road Kitchen in Ambleside.
Sticky Walnut in Chester – which is the first restaurant in Gary Usher’s celebrated Elite Bistros group – placed 62nd.
A special Outstanding Achievement Award was also presented to chef Tom Kerridge – who opened his first Manchester restaurant the Bull & Bear in 2019 – at the awards for his work during the pandemic, after he provided more than 100,000 meals to key workers and vulnerable people in the community.
Kerridge also notably worked with Marcus Rashford on a campaign called ‘Full Time Meals’ designed to get children cooking.
You can check out the National Restaurant Awards top 100 list in full here.
Featured Image – Moor Hall