Britain is awash with great food experiences, from top restaurants to celebrity chefs, farmers markets and food festivals. And even as new trends emerge, such as poultry-only restaurants and futuristic eateries – even a naked restaurant (The Bunyadi) – there’s something about the old ways and recognised dining establishments that draws you in. Here are some very British foodie experiences to try the next time you’re in the UK.
Strawberries & Cream at Wimbledon
The delectable taste of strawberries and cream has become entwined with tennis and the English summer. So popular is it that London’s Wimbledon tournament reportedly gets through 23 tonnes of strawberries and 7,000 litres of cream each year.
One way to get the experience, apart from attending the actual tournament, is to take the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum and Tour. Here you can eyeball the Championships Trophies, see a ‘ghost’ of John McEnroe, watch footage of champions, see tennis memorabilia and more.
Then explore the grounds in a behind-the-scenes tour that includes Centre Court, the Picnic Terraces, and the Press Interview Room. Round it off with strawberries and cream in the Wingfield Cafe (in season).
Tudor Feast at Hampton Court Palace
A few hours upriver from central London sits the majestic Hampton Court Palace, once home to Tudor, Stuart and Georgian monarchs, amid 24 hectares of stunning gardens. Here you can view Henry VIII’s apartments and, more importantly, his enormous Tudor kitchens. Watch chefs roasting meat before the open fire, and check out the chocolate kitchen, where George I’s hot chocolate was made.
There’s also a kitchen garden featuring fruit, vegetables and herbs growing as they would have done for the 18th Century Georgian kings. And the Tiltyard Cafe offers dishes inspired by five centuries of food at the palace.
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Michelin-Starred Chefs in Birmingham
The West Midlands city of Birmingham – the gateway to the UK, with easy access to the Lake District, Cotswolds, Nottingham, Windsor and London – has no fewer than five Michelin-starred restaurants (not to mention a gazillion food events). You can dine out at a different one every day.
Carters of Moseley, run by hometown boy Brad Carter, offers a back-to-basics menu that includes Orkney scallop with coral roe dashi. Fine-dining Adam’s serves modern dishes under the guidance of chef patron Adam Stokes, such as duck with kohlrabi and greens.
Purnell’s, another fine-dining establishment, was set up by Glynn Purnell and features bold and innovative dishes such as slow-cooked neck of Wiltshire downlands lamb with burnt aubergine puree. Simpsons is an informal but elegant restaurant under the auspices of Andreas Antona, Luke Tipping and Nathan Eades, and offers such dishes as suckling pig with black pudding. Meanwhile, Turners Restaurant is a neighbourhood-style eatery run by chef patron Richard Turner, offering “outstandingly prepared dishes” (according to A.A. Gill) such as pork with heritage carrots.
Afternoon Tea on Wedgwood China
Head to the World of Wedgwood in Staffordshire, where you can see an extraordinary collection of the famed china, which has spanned 250 years, at the Wedgwood Museum, or take a Wedgwood Factory tour. Try your hand at the potter’s wheel or design your own pattern.
But the must-try experience is to sample afternoon tea at the Wedgwood Tea Room. There are sweet and savoury dishes (including cucumber sandwiches and scones), and more than 50 teas to choose from, all served in fine Wedgwood china, of course.