Bring your own booze to a cocktail bar? It's the experimental drinking and dining trend
The British restaurant and bar scene is never one to sit still and, as London’s Bring Your Own Cocktail bar becomes the latest drinking trend to hit the capital this month, we highlight some of the best in culinary and cocktail wizardry around Britain.
Bring Your Own Cocktail, London
The Juice Club in London’s Covent Garden is so much more than a healthy juice bar – behind a secret doorway, through to a tiny basement, is its Bring Your Own Cocktail Bar. Bring the spirit or wine of your choosing and have a talented mixologist create a bespoke cocktail using a raft of fruit, vegetables and clever mixers.
House of Wolf, London
Decadence and pleasure are the bywords of House of Wolf, a dining, drinking, arts and entertainment venue in the fashionable London district of Islington. Housed in what was once one of the first music halls in London, visitors can head to its Apothecary to sample theatrical cocktails or dine on inventive cuisine in the opulent Attic Dining Room.
The Fat Duck, Bray, Berkshire
The original multisensory dining experience, Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck in Bray – 50 minutes by train from London to the nearest station of Maidenhead, then a five-minute taxi ride – continues to wow diners with its tasting menu. Its legendary snail porridge still graces the eclectic menu and you can also enjoy salmon poached in a liquorice gel as well as saddle of venison with beetroot soubise and risotto of spelt and umbles.
Aumbry Restaurant, Prestwich, Manchester
Do sautéed snails with fresh curd cheese rolled in Hay ash, malt loaf and birch or beetroot and chocolate cake with hazelnut, caraway and bee pollen take your fancy? These innovative creations are the brainchild of husband and wife team Laurence Tottingham and Mary-Ellen McTague – who both used to work for Heston Blumenthal – at their restaurant Aumbry, only 16 minutes by tram from Manchester city centre. Using local produce, they take inspiration from historical cookery and blend it with the latest food science.
Midsummer House, Cambridge
Applying advanced techniques and technical skill to the freshest produce has earned chef Daniel Clifford two Michelin stars and the accolade of best restaurant for food in the East of England in The Sunday Times Food List. Inspired creations include slow roast Label Anglais chicken with buttermilk purée, confit Roscoff onions and chicory; roast brill, surf clams, cucumber, wasabi, sorrel and poached kumquats with lemon thyme ice cream.
Dock Kitchen, London
Influenced by ingredients discovered on his travels and by seasonal produce chef Stevie Parle uses spontaneity and natural flair to create a visionary menu that includes oxtail, brisket and pork Vietnamese pho, with rice noodles, chilli & fresh herb; Hereford onglet steak with Jansson’s temptation; and ginger cake with marmalade ice cream. Located in a converted Victorian Wharf building, the Dock Kitchen overlooks west London’s Grand Union Canal.
L’Enclume, Cartmel, Cumbria
A beautiful Lake District location – a 90-minute drive from Manchester – lends an ideal backdrop to Michelin-star chef Simon Rogan’s restaurant. Simon experiments with presentation and ingredients and because his dishes only use the freshest ingredients there is no set menu; diners order from whichever ingredients are seasonal as the restaurant aims to provide a personal experience for all. Dishes on previous menus have included sea kale with wild flower honey, garlic mustard and hazelnut, and Bay crab, kohlrabi, radish and rye crouton.
Anthony’s, Leeds, Yorkshire
Choose from trailblazing dishes such as pork five ways (belly pork, crispy pork scratchings, Morteau sausage, pigs wind pipe and pigs head terrine) and roast scallop with smoked marrowbone, onion and liquorice ash at chef Tony Flinn’s restaurant. A family owned and run establishment, Anthony’s is located in centre of the Yorkshire city of Leeds, just over a two-hour train journey from London, while Leeds-Bradford International Airport is 11 miles away.
Worship Street Whistling Shop, Shoreditch, London
Set in an atmospheric Victorian-inspired underground bar in trendy Shoreditch, east London, the Worship Street Whistling Shop uses the skills of perfumists, video walls, experimental sound, lighting and costumes to enhance a visit. Its drinks menu draws inspiration from historical drinking trends and includes concoctions such as ‘Mother’s Ruin’ (Tanqueray gin, grapefruit, clary sage hydrosol, sugar, soda and nutmeg) and ‘Earth of England’ (Naked Chase vodka, Hereford soil distillate, London honey, English apple acid and Nyetimber Classic Cuvee).
Gourmet Spot, Durham, north-east England
Imaginative, bold cuisine created from local, seasonal produce, wherever possible, is mindful of the vegetarian customer. A dedicated meat-free tasting menu experiments with dishes such as confit egg yolk, salt-baked celeriac, blue cheese and chicory at this Durham eaterie, half an hour south of Newcastle. Meanwhile, meat eaters can sample roast duck breast with lettuce, young artichokes, lemon gel and samphire grass on their tasting menu.
The Clink, Cardiff
An innovative restaurant that opened last September as part of the city’s working prison. The Clink Cymru serves top end food cooked and served by Cardiff prison inmates. The restaurant is the brainchild of award-winning chef Alberto Crisci and acclaimed chef Stephen Terry, the owner of award-winning pub The Hardwick in the Abergavenny, works there once a month. The restaurant is the first of its kind in Wales and the main aim of the project is to reduce reoffending by giving prisoners a chance to gain qualifications and experience. The food is highly rated by those who’ve been, who all commend the high standard of service.
The Potted Pig, Cardiff
Feasting on a whole suckling pig is a tradition steeped in medieval history, and now you can have one in a former bank vault in Cardiff. The Potted Pig is one of those restaurants that is truly a rare find: the food's great – including ‘alternative’ egg and soldiers (usually a breakfast dish) served as a starter, cod cheeks and clams on toast, saffron gin to sip on – the decor is stylish and considered without being 'over designed' and the staff are attentive and friendly.
The Secret Space, Glasgow
The Secret Space changes its menu every 8-12 weeks, keeping visitors on their toes with a constantly reinvigorated, always unusual offer of dishes – essentially a new ‘pop up’ restaurant to look forward to every couple of months. What remains consistent is the restaurant’s commitment to showcasing all that’s best about fresh, locally-sourced and sustainable produce, turned into fascinating and unusual dishes influenced by some of the world’s most fascinating cuisines. The latest incarnation was ‘Tide Seafood Restaurant’, serving locally sourced, sustainable seafood, which Scotland is known for doing so well. The location is superb, perched above the Arisaig (its sister restaurant) on Glasgow’s Merchant Square in the heart of the city’s theatreland.
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