The 10 best restaurants in the UK for 2022
The 100 best restaurants in the country have been revealed at the National Restaurant Awards 2022, and yet again the capital’s foodie havens have dominated, with 60 of the restaurants found in London. But for the first time in the award’s 16-year history, the top spot hasn’t gone to a restaurant in England. Instead, the coveted prize has been given to Ynyshir in Wales, which was awarded its second Michelin star in February. The majority of the top 10 are in the Big Smoke, though, with haunts in Mayfair, Notting Hill and Shoreditch all getting the nod. Read on for a low-down on the best restaurants in the UK this year.
1. Ynyshir, Wales
Hidden away among the woods in rural mid-Wales, Ynyshir (pronounced inis-heer) may seem like an unlikely candidate to nab the top spot – it came 15th in the list last year, after all. But the award is testament to the chef-patron Gareth Ward, who took the helm in 2013 and has since transformed the former country house hotel into one of the UK’s most in-demand destination restaurants. With its bold take on ‘immersive’ dining, a meal here is not for the faint-hearted – each £350-a-head menu can run to 30 courses and typically takes between four and five hours to complete. But it’s their brilliant ingredient-led small plates, cooked over fire, that earnt the spot a second Michelin star earlier in the year, making them the only Welsh restaurant in history to be awarded the honour.
2. Moor Hall, Lancashire
This Lancashire favourite was awarded second place and named England’s best restaurant, down from the top spot, which it’s held for the last two years. Helmed by chef Mark Birchall, who previously ran the kitchen at the similarly celebrated L’Enclume in Cumbria, the restaurant with rooms is set in a Grade II-listed building that dates back to the 13th-century and comes with five acres of gardens, as well as its own lake. The delicate tasting menu – which comes in either four or eight courses – is largely produce-driven, inspired by the surrounding Lancashire countryside. They source as much as they can locally, with their charcuterie made in-house and honey taken from the five beehives that are dotted around the bucolic grounds.
3. Brat, Shoreditch
Hailed as the top restaurant in London, this perennially popular Shoreditch spot shows no sign of waning, with locals and out-of-towners alike flocking here for the famed fish and meat dishes cooked on their wood fire grill. Housed in a former strip club on Redchurch Street, the wood-panelled interior is decidedly cool, with a hip east London crowd to match. But the emphasis here is firmly on the food. Start with the blackened grilled bread topped with anchovies and a plate of smoked cod’s roe, before moving onto pleasingly charred cuts of meat and the undisputed star of the show, the turbot (for which ‘Brat’ is said to be a nickname). If you order just one thing here, make sure it’s this.
4. The Ritz, Mayfair
This Mayfair institution needs no introduction, having long been hailed as one of the world’s most famous dining destinations. But while it may be best known for its afternoon teas, every meal here instantly becomes an occasion thanks to the glamorous dining room, filled with waiters swooping about in full morning suit pushing gleaming silver trolleys. Overseen by executive chef John Williams MBE, the menu focuses on refined French dishes made using the finest local British produce, like tournedos of beef Perigourdine with creamed girolles and roasted sea bass with salted lemons. The restaurant jumped an entire 40 places up the list from last year, and as well as being awarded the fourth spot they also picked up the service award, while head chef Spencer Metzger was named the Chef to Watch.
5. BiBi, Mayfair
Sophisticated Indian restaurant BiBi clocked up the highest new entry at number five and won Opening of the Year, further cementing its place as one of the finest Indian restaurants in London. The latest Mayfair spot from hospitality hitmakers JKS – the team behind Gymkhana and Hoppers – offers up bold, punchy dishes from chef Chet Sharma, who delivers a subversive take on fine Indian cuisine. Designed to resemble a mock-Rajasthani train carriage, with gleaming wood panels and checkerboard floors, the restaurant boasts one of the most elegant dining rooms in W1, with a bustling kitchen counter where you can watch the chefs at work. Sharma’s debut restaurant may have been created as a tribute to his grandmothers – or ‘bibis’, Urdu for ‘lady of the house’ – but the cool, contemporary cooking here is anything but old-fashioned.
6. The Ledbury, Notting Hill
After a two-year pandemic-induced hiatus, the Ledbury reopened in March to much fanfare. With a revamped dining room – all mirrors and marble with softly twinkling lights – and an even sharper focus on top quality produce, the team led by acclaimed chef and co-owner Brett Graham have clearly put the last couple of years to good use, reopening with a new sense of direction and purpose. One of the main focuses is sustainability, with seasonality key to many of the new dishes – retired dairy cows have been used for the charcuterie, for example, while mushrooms are now being grown in the restaurant itself, housed in a large moisture-controlled cabinet that guests can inspect. What hasn’t changed? The mind-blowing attention to detail and impeccable service.
7. A Wong, Pimlico
Often hailed as the best modern Chinese food in London, chef Andrew Wong’s eponymous restaurant pays homage to China’s 2,000 years of culinary history, offering up delectable plates of dim sum as well as dishes like seabass with fermented tofu sauce, wok-seared wagyu beef and crab claw with cured scallop, all made for sharing. Located on bustling Wilton Road in Pimlico, the restaurant was first opened as Kym’s in 1985 by Wong’s parents, before being relaunched with a new name in 2012 by Wong and his wife. Since then, it’s gone from strength to strength, being awarded a second Michelin star in 2021, making it the first Chinese restaurant in the UK to hold such a title.
8. Core by Clare Smyth, Notting Hill
A rare appearance by a female chef, but then Clare Smyth MBE is no ordinary cook – she is the first and only British female chef to hold three Michelin stars in the UK, and only the fourth British chef in history to receive the honour. This Notting Hill spot is her first solo venture (she also has a restaurant in Sydney, overlooking the harbour), known for its focus on natural sustainable food, sourced from the UK’s most dedicated farmers and food producers. And while Smyth’s techniques may be firmly rooted in classical French cooking, those in-the-know will recognise that the menu is filled with plenty of nostalgic British references, such a roast monkfish topped with Morecambe Bay shrimps and her ‘Core-Teser’ dessert, a gourmet take on the Malteser.
9. Ikoyi, St James’s
In a city like London, it’s hard to come up with a restaurant concept that’s truly innovative, but the team behind Ikoyi have done just that. Founded by friends Iré Hassan-Odukale and chef Jeremy Chan, West African-inspired flavours are blended with umami-heavy ingredients to create bold dishes that are entirely their own. Hailed as one of the capital’s most exciting restaurants, don’t come here expecting home-style cooking – yes, there are plantain fritters and Jollof rice on offer, but not as you know them. With an eclectic menu that includes 100% organic meats, biodynamic vegetables and fish from British waters dispatched using the Ikejime method, come with an empty belly and an open mind.
10. L’Enclume, Cumbria
There’s no arguing with the fact that Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume remains one of the finest restaurants in the country – as further proof, the lauded Lake District spot was awarded its third Michelin star in February, making it the first ever restaurant in the north of England to do so. This year marks two decades since Rogan first opened the doors at this former blacksmiths workshop, and since then the restaurant has received international acclaim, famed for its hyper-seasonal and traceable tasting menus. As many ingredients as possible are sourced and harvested from the restaurant’s own farm, located just down the road in the Cartmel Valley, or from other leading local producers – which goes some way to explaining the zingingly fresh creations that wind up on the plate.