1, London Street, Market Place, Fairford, Gloucestershire 01285 712200; www.allium.uk.net Erica Graham’s dependable hand on the tiller is appreciated at this calm, relaxing place on the main street of a pretty village. In the kitchen, James Graham is something of a food crusader, championing high-quality local produce on regularly changing, seasonal menus and delivering some fine and original cooking.
Gosport Street, Lymington, Hampshire 01590 676165 A reliable fixture of the Lymington scene, the Egans’ relaxed bistro-style restaurant scores with its easy-going attitude and skilfully crafted
food. John Egan keeps faith with the local larder, and fish is the standout attraction. Elsewhere, the kitchen looks to the New Forest for seasonal dishes of many parts.
17 High Street, Great Gonerby, Lincolnshire 01476 561780 This is a truly remarkable, one-off set-up: the Hallams’ pretty Georgian house offers a cosy dining room that comprises three immaculately laid tables. Harry matches the domestic mood with a brief dinner menu of just two choices at each stage. Sourcing ingredients is a personal passion, and everything is as precise and polished as can be.
Druidston Haven, Broad Haven, Haverfordwest, Dyfed 01437 781221; www.druidstone.co.uk The Bell family’s imposing stone cliff-top house is certainly individual. Views are breathtaking; the atmosphere relaxed and infused with a laid-back, Bohemian charm; the house is lived in, without looking scruffy. The kitchen makes the most of good (and local) ingredients, and has really made an impact, showing a fondness for robust flavours.
Jevington, East Sussex, 01323 482178; www.hungrymonk.co.uk An enduring stalwart of the Sussex dining scene, Nigel and Sue Mackenzie are not about to rock an exceedingly steady ship, and, in the kitchen, Gary Fisher prepares food that remains true to the spirit of generosity, wholesome flavour and comfort. Sound raw materials are the bedrock of his menus.
Watery Lane, Funtington, West Sussex 01243 575331; www.hallidays.info Andy and Julia Stephenson are the proud owners of this thatched country restaurant. An impressive commitment to regionalism involves not only sourcing fish from local boats and meat from nearby farmland, but also making use of the wild larder in the form of mushrooms, garlic, elderflowers, nettles, and so forth.
47 Liverpool Road, Birkdale Village, Birkdale, Merseyside 01704 550886; www.michaelsbirkdale.co.uk Set in pretty Birkdale Village, this super little neighbourhood restaurant is an unpretentious place that has developed a strong following for affordable menus of well-crafted dishes, often using local ingredients. Michael Wichmann’s ambition (and Francophile leanings) comes across clearly.
25, Bonnygate, Cupar, Fife 01334 655574; www.ostlersclose.co.uk After 28 years at their small cottage-restaurant, Jimmy and Amanda Graham can consider themselves old hands at the
restaurant game. They remain as enthusiastic as ever, thanks to a loyal following, a well-established network of local suppliers, and a passion for foraging and gardening supplying their own-grown herbs, soft fruits and vegetables in season.
Llanfair Waterdine, Shropshire 01547 528214; www.waterdine.com Ken and Isabel Adams’ old drovers’ inn offers terrific modern British cooking. A Welsh long house by design, it’s set right on the border of Wales and England. Ken’s short, imaginative menu offers a seasonal selection of the best the area has to offer, featuring delicious homegrown local or organic produce.
28, High Street, Biddenden, Kent 01580 291341; www. thewesthouserestaurant.co.uk Graham and Jackie Garrett’s heavily beamed former weaver’s cottage in the centre of a Weald village mixes stylishly restrained decor with some assured cooking. Graham’s regularly changing menus are appealing and concise. An allegiance to local produce ensures seasonality, and foraged foods often pepper the menu.
Elizabeth Carter is consultant editor for ‘The Good Food Guide’. ‘The Good Food Guide 2009’ can be ordered from 01903 828557 or www.which.co.uk/books (£9.99, until February 21, thereafter £16.99), or bought from bookshops