The Great Tastes Britain trip was all about showcasing some of the fine food in York, Manchester and London – the three places that were on our itinerary. I was in fine company of vloggers, writers and content creators from different parts of the world.
We got to taste some memorable meals and drinks over the 6-7 days. I want to share with you some of the dishes that stood out in terms of flavour, creativity and presentation.
Out of the many meals I had in my Great Tastes Britain tour, these were 11 of the most memorable ones! Although I say ‘meals’, the list does include a few drinks 🙂
So, are you ready for the delicious journey from York to London?
Eating out in York
1.Breakfast at York
Are you a hotel breakfast person? I start my day early even when I’m traveling, preferably with a session in the gym, if the hotel has one. And then I’m quite ravenously hungry by 7.30 AM. So when I see a gorgeous breakfast spread with freshly baked breads, fruits, yogurt, cereal etc. it is so difficult to not go overboard. However, this trip was all about food, and it would be detrimental to my waistline if I loaded up on the very first meal of the day.
I had a couple of spoons of some of the Bircher Muesli, fruits (berries and apricot) stewed in tea + deliciously thick and creamy yogurt with a topping of some granola. This plus the coffee was truly a sensational yet healthy start to my day. Really good, freshly brewed coffee.
Where: The Principal, York
2. Half a dozen spears of chilled English asparagus
I chose this dish for the first course of our dinner, from the Summer Group Menu 2018. The other vegetarian options were Traditional Yorkshire Pudding, which I did get tempted to choose, because we were in Yorkshire after all. It was asparagus season in UK and this seasonal salad served with scallion and heritage potato salad, duck egg gribiche and a summer herb dressing seemed just perfect. I learnt that day that gribiche is a kind of mayo that is made with the yolks of a hard boiled egg as against a raw yolk used in mayo. The potato salad portion was just right not to make the salad too heavy and the summery herb dressing over the cold salad – they all hit the right notes together. In fact I would have been happy with just this and hopping right over to the chocolate dessert.
Where: The Star Inn The City / York
Eating out in Manchester
3. High Voltage Cocktail
Situated inside Hotel Principal, Manchester, which was established in 1898, the Public Bar and Dining Room at The Refuge is curated by DJs turned restauranteurs. The whole place is the intersection of quirk meets grandeur. The cocktails menu is dominated by gin based cocktails and while each of them sounded interesting, I loved the ingredients in the High Voltage. Hendrick’s gin, cucumber, mint, elderflower, lemon and Mediterranean tonic, all shaken up and served with a burnt lemon on the top – this was a sophisticated cocktail with no resemblance to the sugar syrup or fruit loaded cocktails that feel more like what you would want to give your kids (minus the alcohol, of course)
Where: The Refuge / Public Bar, Manchester
4. Beet Puree with Smoked Feta
An evening that started with a cocktail that truly was high voltage, there were high expectations from the food. It was a set menu for the table with plenty of small plates to share. The menu was dominated by mezze. What I loved the most was the Smoked feta, beetroot, hazelnut, dill – roasted beet puree (not hummus) topped with crumbled feta, walnuts and evoo. Feta is the most perfect partner to beet and they should propose each other asap and live happily ever after.
Where: The Refuge / Public Dining Room, Manchester
Eating out in London
5. Spelt with a bunch of seasonal produce
Located right inside the St Pancras station, that turns 150 this year, this restaurant highlights local produce, classic British flavours and English sparkling wines. Now the Searsy’s are Britain’s oldest caterers so they do know a thing about making brilliant food. Our group had a wine pairing lesson with a 3 course meal and this dish was from the main course, which otherwise features on their a la carte as well as Market Menu.
Young peas and broad beans spelt with feta and mint, was fresh, reflecting the seasons and the spelt made a hearty backdrop for all the fresh springy ingredients.
Where: St Pancras by Searsy’s
6. Chickpeas and Chickpea Flour Pancake
We dined on the Scratch menu at Spring. This is a set menu made using leftovers and less than perfect produce. At 20 GBP for 3 courses served in an utterly beautiful setting, it is a steal. The menu changes everyday as per the produce and you can catch it on their Twitter or Instagram. It is served between 5.30pm-6.30pm daily. This dish I loved was a very Ottolenghi style chickpeas with greens, olive oil, yogurt, served with a chickpea flour pancake, a thicker crisper version of the Indian chila. The concept was simple, the dish delicious and I immediately made a note to try it out in my kitchen.
Where: Spring, London
7. Single Malt Cocktail
Seeing my dilemma at which of the cocktails to order from their botanicals menu, the very knowledgable waitress at Mandrake took a look at me and said this is the cocktail for you. And she was so right. At home, I’m never the one to ‘waste’ a single malt in a cocktail, but you learn something new everyday. Garnished with a gold-chocolate skull in true Mandrake style, everyone on the table was lusting after my cocktail.
Where: The bar at The Mandrake / London
8. Bombay Omelette
If you talk Indian food in London, it is impossible to leave Dishoom out of the conversation. They serve up an amazing breakfast / brunch menu and you get unlimited refills of steaming hot masala chai when you order one. While their naan rolls have celeb status here, I was here for a second breakfast so I stuck to the Bombay Omelette. Served with a grilled piece of toast and eggs seasoned and spiced to perfection, it was a hearty salute to the Parsi food from Mumbai.
Where: Dishoom, Carnaby / London
8. Cauliflower with Miso
We live in times when cauliflower is having a wild run of popularity. This utterly simple cauliflower dish with a flavour jolt from miso is something a vegetarian will love to order at Inko Nito. Located bang in Soho, land up here for lunch after a whole morning of walking around. The salted edamame here are the bomb too.
Where: Inko Nito, Soho / London
9.Ricotta & black olive agnolotti
This dish was part of a meal we had at Hide restaurant, that looks into the lush Green Park. It is rated as one of the top new restaurants to dine in London. The concept and decor of the place is absolutely unique too- all modelled around a tree.
What you see in the photo was from the Starters section of the dinner menu. It was the perfect balance of taste and beauty. We even joked around on the table that I had the entire Chelsea flower show in my bowl. This was the ricotta and black olive stuffed agnolotti with spring vegetables in a light broth. The toasted hazelnuts, fresh greens and edible flowers added layers and layers of flavour.
10. Pizza at Franco Manca
Sourdough crust, Italian chef, real ingredients, simple menu and crowded as hell. If you are a pizza aficionado, pay Franco Manca a visit. Their outlets are all over London. I landed here on a Friday evening by myself (in Soho) and there was a 30 minute wait. I requested to be seated on the rickety table on the sidewalk. With the company of a pizza so good (Pizza #2 Tomato, mozzarella & basil) it did not matter if I was sitting outside or inside.
Where: Franco Manca, outlets across London
11. Flat White at Monmouth Coffee
I hate to queue up for food (or coffee), but I queued up twice in one morning for this coffee. It was THAT good. If you happen to visit Borough Market in London, then you absolutely must have a coffee at Monmouth. Sit at the community table (tough to find seating on weekends) or take it to go and sip on the best coffee you can have in London while exploring the streets. So much in love with this coffee that it inspired a story I wrote for the ET Magazine on flat white coffees.
I hope you loved my dining (and wining) list from the Great Tastes Britain trip. If you do happen to be visiting these parks anytime soon, tweet to me and I can give you more reccos.
[Disclaimer: I was a guest of Visit Britain on this trip. Most of the meals were a part of the trip, while some of the meals were had on my own, during my extended stay in London]