Local Flavour: Our Guide to the UK’s Best Local Restaurants

Published: Wednesday 2nd Mar 2022

Written by: Eliza Duckworth

From fish-and-chip-suppers-sat-on-the-pier Cottages 
To fine-dining-gastro-pubs-and-local-brewed-beer Cottages 

Despite specialising in self-catering holiday homes, we know just how important good food is in creating lasting holiday memories and that food doesn’t always have to be homemade. Our trusty local experts are always out and about exploring what’s on the menu in their home regions, so we thought we’d share this guide with you so that you can have the tastiest holiday possible!  

With fine dining, family-friendly, casual dining, pub grub and al fresco dining recommendations across several of our most popular holiday destinations, this blog has been specially designed with our guests in mind.  

Cornwall 

Fillet of fish served in a restaurant

Fine Dining in Cornwall 

As a county defined by its coastline, it would be remiss of us not to recommend one of Cornwall’s best fresh seafood restaurants and fine dining experiences.

Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant in Padstow is where his Cornish culinary empire began in 1975. Still going strong, The Seafood Restaurant offers some of the finest fish and shellfish dishes in Cornwall, in a beautiful terrace setting overlooking the Camel Estuary.

If you’re holidaying in Mid Cornwall, a night in Tabbs Restaurant is a great option. Located in the county’s capital, Truro, Tabbs is a fine dining restaurant with local produce at the heart of every dish.

In South Cornwall you’ll find Kota in Porthleven, an excellent seafood restaurant with a twist. Run by award-winning chef Jude, Kota’s menu plays homage to his Maori and Chinese heritage, offering a fresh take on Cornish seafood.  

View of the beach from Sam's on the beach
 Image courtesy of Sam's On The Beach, Polkerris

Family Friendly Dining in Cornwall 

With its very own crazy golf course, Gilmores in Newquay makes for a whole afternoon out, on top of its delicious Mexican menu – with speciality tequila drinks for the adults thrown in for good measure!

Also by the sea is Sam’s on the Beach in Polkerris, a delightful little restaurant situated in a renovated RNLI station. As the name suggests, Sam’s is right on the beach, making it the ideal spot for families to enjoy a relaxed lunch as parents can kick back and relax while the kids run between building sandcastles and eating an ice cream sundae or freshly woodfired pizza.

In the Cornish countryside, families can look forward to a homegrown and homemade lunch at the Boscastle Farm Shop Café, or enjoy a refreshing ice cream at Moomaid of Zennor, both of which make for a fun day out as well as providing tasty treats.  

Seafood at Mariners Rock
Image courtesy of The Mariners in Rock 

Pub Grub in Cornwall 

No trip to North Cornwall would be complete without sampling Sharp’s beers, brewed in Rock since 1994. The Halfway House in Wadebridge takes the Sharp’s experience to the next level, with its very own beer pairing menu. Each course has been thoughtfully matched with a Sharp’s sample and you can choose between a four and six course option.

For more Sharp’s and delicious pub grub, head to The Mariners in Rock, which is especially lovely in the summertime where you can enjoy views of the Camel Valley from the terrace.

If you’re venturing further south, add a trip to The Shipwrights Arms to your itinerary. Nestled on the shoreline of the Helford River, The Shipwrights Arms combines fresh, local food and drink with glorious views and the much-loved hubbub of pub dining.

Our local team in West Cornwall love visiting The Sloop in St Ives, which has not one, not two, but three dining options! Choose from the classic menu, fine dining at The Captain’s Table Restaurant, or cocktails and nibbles on The Upper Deck Terrace.  

Fish platter at the fish house
Image courtesy of The Fish House on Fistral Beach

Casual and Relaxed Dining in Cornwall 

Simple but delicious food in a calming atmosphere is sometimes just the ticket on holiday, rather than making a big song and dance about going out for food.

In Newquay, The Fish House on Fistral Beach makes for a lunch or dinner comprised of fresh seafood in a chilled-out atmosphere with beautiful views of the Cornish coast.

Stepping Stones in Wadebridge is also a great option for those looking for a relaxed dining, as this little restaurant is tucked away and secluded from the hustle and bustle of the town centre.  

View of the outdoor seating at bowgie inn
Image courtesy of The Bowgie Inn, Crantock

Al Fresco Dining in Cornwall 

Cornwall is famed for its views, whether coastal or country and what better way to enjoy them then with a glass of something cool and a plate of something warm?

The Bowgie Inn boasts views of one of the most beautiful beaches in Cornwall: Crantock.

The Watering Hole in Perranporth is the UK’s only bar on the beach, making it a unique holiday experience, as well as a great place to pick up a couple of drinks to accompany your beach day.

Another beachside treat is the Rockpool Beach Café in the Gwithian Dunes on Godrevy Beach, a dreamy boho setting with a cracking menu.   

Devon 

Orange tree dessert
Image courtesy of The Orange tree, Torquay

Fine Dining in Devon 

Right across Devon, on seafronts and tucked away down cobbled streets, are world-class, award-winning restaurants.

For our guests in Dartmouth and South Devon, The Seahorse is perfect for a classy night out filled with wine, seafood, fish and Italian cuisine. Choose between the bustling main restaurant, or hire out their private space, The Cantina, if you’re celebrating a special occasion.

For those on the North Coast, Thomas Carr at the Olive Room is your go-to for top tier seasonal, local, a la carte dining. Awarded a Michelin Star for 2021, the Thomas Carr dining experience is one you don’t want to miss.

Last but not least, The Orange Tree in Torquay should be on everyone’s radar. The food is, of course, sensational, but what really makes The Orange Tree experience is the meticulous attention to detail and wonderful service that makes for a truly memorable meal.  

Dog sitting at a picnic bench
Image courtesy of Venus Cafe, Blackpool Sands

Family Friendly Dining in Devon 

Voted as one of the Top 50 Breakfast spots in the UK by The Guardian, Venus Cafe at Blackpool Sands is renowned for its delicious food and fabulous coastal views. Whether you’re there for breakfast, lunch or dinner, the whole family will be spoilt for choice when it comes to eating at Venus!

Another award winner, Home Farm Café in Dartmouth was voted the best family dining experience in 2016, so it must be good. Committed to local, sustainable dining, Home Farm Café is all about a friendly, local-first dining experience that is bound to bring a smile to everyone’s face.

For fun and food, head to Oak Mead Café near Sidmouth. It serves delicious ice creams and is also home to a golf course.  

Pint being pulled behind the bar

Pub Grub in Devon 

What better way to soak up the holiday sunshine than with a pint and a hearty meal at a local pub? There are pubs on every corner in Devon, most of which will offer a tasty menu as well as a fully stocked bar, but we can’t mention them all, so here are two of our top recommendations: The George Inn in Blackawton and The Tower Inn, Slapton.

The George has a diverse menu comprising of meat, fish, vegetarian and vegan dishes and is set in the beautiful rolling hills of the Devon countryside.

The Tower Inn serves up a range of pub classics, from burgers to bangers and mash, but perhaps what’s most fascinating about this haunt is that it is set in the shadow of a mighty 14th century tower. Both pubs are also dog and child-friendly, so are suitable for families and groups.  

large bowl of muscles

Casual & Relaxed Dining in Devon 

One of our local team’s favourite spots for a casual, light lunch, coffee or cake is Storm in a Teacup at Watermouth Cove, Ilfracombe. Housed in a refurbished boat, this café is a true gem of the North Devon coast and is equal parts café and architectural wonder.

The Oyster Shack in Bigbury is another quirky, casual bar and restaurant that is as equally lovely to sit at, as the menu of fresh seafood and cocktails are!  

Kent 

Fine dining Fish dinner
Image courtesy of All Stark, Broadstairs

Fine Dining in Kent 

Some of the UK’s top fine-dining restaurants are also some of the country’s best kept secrets. One of these, Stark, just so happens to be in Kent. This tiny restaurant is tucked away in Broadstairs and if you’re lucky enough to book a seat, you’re in for a real treat. Head Chef Ben Crittenden curates an ever-changing seasonal six course tasting menu, with optional wine flight that is a hit with everyone who visits.

The Sportsman is another fine-dining restaurant that caters with the changing seasons in mind. Their five-course tasting menu is lovingly put together every single day and you can enjoy the lovely coastal surroundings as you tuck into your meal.  

Family eating dinner together

Family Friendly Dining in Kent 

With a great menu and plenty to entertain the kids, The Potting Shed is well worth visiting if you’re holidaying in and around Maidstone. This popular pub has lots of outdoor space, a play area, a vegetable garden and an open kitchen where you can see the chefs at work. Order a sharing platter for the table, or kids’ favourite pizza, then grab a table outside and soak up the sunshine.

If you’re going to see the White Cliffs of Dover on your travels, then lunch at the nearby Zetland Arms is a must. The pub boasts an amazing location right on the beach, so the kids can run around in the waves whilst you watch them and enjoy a pint of locally brewed ale. Freshly caught, local seafood features heavily on the menu, as well as sandwiches, burgers and daily changing specials. We recommend you book ahead to guarantee a table with sea views. 

Outdoor courtyard seating at the farm House
Image courtesy of The Farm House, West Malling

Pub Grub in Kent 

The Farm House in West Malling has been at the heart of this market town since the Elizabethan era, when it was a coaching inn. Nowadays, you’ll find the charming building lovingly renovated into a cosy, atmospheric pub which has a pizza shack beside the old stables for a tasty treat to accompany your drinks.

The Five Bells in the North Downs is another 16th century pub that is still going strong following a loving revamp and stellar food and drinks menu. The Five Bells has been voted Kent Life Pub of the Year twice and is a hit with everyone who visits, thanks to its beautiful interior, setting and carefully crafted local menu.

With the aim of ‘creating the finest food in the region, The Dog at Wingham near Canterbury, is the epitome of gastro pub dining. With multiple awards under its belt, visitors to Canterbury should definitely squeeze in a booking!  

Texan- korean food
Image courtesy of The Korean Cowgirl, Canterbury

Casual & Relaxed Dining in Kent  

If you don’t fancy overthinking your meals out and prefer a spontaneous, relaxed approach to dining, then these recommendations will be right up your street.

The Goods Shed in Canterbury is set in an old Victorian locomotive shed and has a lovely selection of organic, free range and homemade produce. Perfect for those who love a hearty, rustic lunch.

For a taste of the Mediterranean on British shores, head to Harbour Street Tapas in Whitstable.

Try something new by visiting The Korean Cowgirl in Canterbury, a restaurant specialising in Texan-Korean dishes, a brand of cuisine virtually unknown in the UK.  

The Lake District 

Chef putting final touches on plate

Fine Dining in the Lake District 

The Lake District, thanks to its rurality and dramatic surroundings, is somewhat of a haven for foodies and is home to several fine dining restaurants that marry great food and magical surroundings. To get an idea of exactly what we mean when we suggest that Lake District fine dining is elevated by the landscape, head to Forest Side in Grasmere. Set in a Victorian Gothic Mansion, Forest Side has been designed to be a ‘reflection of the landscape in which it sits’ and its seasonal menu made up of fresh, local produce and a specially curated wine list to pair makes for a truly magical culinary and visual experience.

The Gilpin in Windermere has two fine-dining restaurants for your consideration. HRiSHi specialises in traditional Cumbrian dishes with a twist, including Afternoon Tea, while Gilpin Spice is all about pan Asian tapas-style dining.

Finally, to take your fine dining experience to the next level, book a table at Michelin Star restaurant, The Old Stamp House, in Ambleside. Housed in William Wordsworth’s old office, the Stamphouse takes inspiration from local history in its dishes, including incorporating Cumbria’s old trading links with America, Caribbean and India into its dishes. A truly intimate setting with only 28 seats, a night at The Old Stamphouse will surely be one to remember.  

View from the window at Lakeland farm centre
Image courtesy of Lakeland Farm Visitor Centre

Family Friendly Lake District Restaurants 

The Lakes are the ideal holiday destination for families, with so many walks, outdoor activities and historic sites to see, as well as plenty of larger cottages available to rent. With that in mind, we thought we’d include some of our best recommendations for family dining in the Lake District.

Starting with an eatery that makes for a whole day out, Lakeland Farm Visitor Centre is not just a great spot for a family lunch, but also makes for a fun day trip hanging out with the farm animals! For families who love an adventure on foot, The Wilson Arms may just be the perfect spot for a bite to eat, as it is in the foothills of Old Man Coniston and Dow Crag. Very child friendly and serving a range of traditional pub grub, with vegan options too, The Wilson Arms has something for everyone.  

Outside seating at the good sport
Image courtesy of The Good Sport, Grasmere

Pub Grub in the Lake District 

The Watermill Inn, Ings is the home of the Windermere Brewing Company, making it the go-to spot for local beer lovers. Their self-confessed hearty portions and laid-back dining style makes for a perfect cocktail of full bellies and relaxation.

On chilly days, head to the Britannia Inn in Elterwater, where their big open fire and cosy nooks are the perfect place to kick back and enjoy a hearty pub lunch or warming tea.

If you’ve brought a four-legged with you on your Lakeland jollies, then head to The Good Sport in Grasmere, just one of many of the Lake District’s dog-friendly pubs. While you’re at it, why not take a look at our fine selection of dog-friendly cottages in the Lakes too?  

Group of friends having dinner at a pub

Casual & Relaxed Dining in the Lake District 

For those who love going out but can’t stand the fuss, casual and relaxed dining is the answer. Try a locally famous Steak and Jennings Ale Pie at the Skelwith Bridge Hotel, or refresh yourself with a countryside cask ale at the Queen’s Head in Hawkshead.

For something a little different but still with a chilled-out vibe, head to the Siam Café in Windermere for some top-quality Thai food.

For laidback Al Fresco dining with the best views, head to the Drunken Duck Inn and Barngates Brewery in Hawkeshead.  

Norfolk 

View from the outside looking at the wiveton bell

Fine Dining in Norfolk 

Norfolk is a rural county by nature, but that’s not to say it is bereft of luxury restaurants. On the contrary, tucked away in the countryside, by the sea and in its only city are several fine-dining restaurants to tickle any foodie’s fancy.

Morston Hall near Blakeney on the coast is one of Norfolk’s Michelin Star Restaurants and has carefully curated dinner, Sunday lunch and Afternoon Tea menus, as well as the refined and elegant setting of its hotel dining room.

Also near Blakeney, in a tiny hamlet called Wiveton is the delightful Wiveton Bell, which takes pub grub to the next level. With the very best meat and fish, fresh fruit, vegetables and cheeses on offer, a night at The Wiveton is always a great idea for a special occasion.

If you happen to be staying in or near Norwich, then you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to fine-dining, but if we had to pick just one it would have to be The Last Bar.  

Family sitting at picnic bench next to river

Family Friendly Dining in Norfolk 

Keeping children entertained at the table can be a struggle, so why not take them somewhere they can run around and play in between courses?

The Pigs just outside Holt is the perfect solution. Their piggleplay outdoor play area has everything you could dream of: a slide, zip wire, obstacle course, maze, den and a climbing wall. Don’t worry if it’s raining either, as there is also an indoor play area full of games and toys to keep little ones entertained. With an impressive children’s menu, as well as all full-size portions, everyone is catered for at The Pigs, including dogs who also have their very own menu!

The Pigs’ sister pub, The Ffolkes, is equally family-friendly with outdoor and indoor play areas and is an absolute must for pie fans, as their Pie Sunday specials are renowned across Norfolk.  

The Kings Head at sunset
Image courtesy of The Kings Head, Holt

Pub Grub in Norfolk 

If there’s one thing Norfolk is good at, it’s producing a good pub and proper homemade grub. The King’s Head in Holt has blossomed in recent years and draws food and ale lovers from across the region. With an impressive menu full of family favourites, including a very tempting dessert menu, you’re guaranteed to leave The King’s Head with a full belly and a smile on your face.

Another charming traditional pub with an excellent selection of dishes on offer is The Anchor Inn in Morston. Having won multiple culinary awards, The Anchor prides itself on ‘innovative cooking in a non-pretentious way’ and serves an array of high quality, seasonal dishes without unnecessary frills.

If you like your food with a view, head to The Ship Inn in Mundesley, which overlooks the golden sandy beach from a fantastic vantage point. Even if you don’t fancy a bite to eat, this place is perfect for a cold pint in the sun.  

Pasta dishes available at Yard

Casual & Relaxed Dining in Norfolk 

The city of Norwich is packed to the rafters with restaurants, pubs and cafes, street vendors, market stalls and chain eateries. With so many places to grab and go from, or enjoy a chilled-out afternoon in, it can be hard to know where to go.

We highly recommend trying to get a table at Yard, a pasta and cocktail bar whose dishes are simply to die for. All homemade, fresh, seasonal and authentic in every way, Yard has one of the tastiest menus in Norwich, is cost-effective and has a relaxing, cosy atmosphere perfect for whiling away an evening or afternoon in the city.

We also love Moorish falafel bar, which is 100% vegan, Grosvenor Fish Bar and Café No33 for casual and relaxed dining in the city.

On the coast, you’re never too far from a good old-fashioned chippy and there are plenty of pubs across the country for you to enjoy a classic Norfolk Ale and nibbles.  

View from the outside of rocky bottoms
Image courtesy of Rocky Bottoms, West Runton

Al Fresco Dining in Norfolk 

Rocky Bottoms in West Runton, between Sheringham and Cromer on the coast, is one of our favourite spots for al fresco dining in Norfolk. With glorious views overlooking the Norfolk coast and countryside, enjoyed from the outdoor dining area or the comfort of a deckchair, tucking into some tasty Norfolk seafood has never been better than when at Rocky Bottoms.

If seafood’s not your thing, head to The Rose and Crown in Snettisham. A recurring winner of a spot in the UK Top Ten Pubs, The Rose and Crown is renowned not only for its menu, but also its delightful beer garden and dining area.    

Wales 

wine and food at restaurant

Fine Dining in Wales 

Fine Dining can mean crisp tablecloths, champagne by the glass and a menu of treats you’d struggle to find at your local shop, but it can also refer to a once in a lifetime, truly unique evening – think visiting the theatre rather than a restaurant.

When it comes to Ynyshir in Machynlleth, theatrics is exactly what to expect. Guests are told to leave 4-5 hours for the feast, which comprises of 30 courses of Japanese inspired dishes curated by head chef Gareth. Music plays to awaken your senses and you are accompanied by stellar views of the Brecon Beacons and Mid Wales landscape as you take in every aspect of this fascinating experience.

If you prefer traditional to experimental, we highly recommend a visit to The River House in Swansea, an elegant restaurant right at the heart of Swansea’s vibrant waterfront.  

Family sat a table in restaurant

Family Friendly Dining in Wales 

For those with young children, fine dining may not be the most practical option, but your holiday dining experience can still be really fun and unique.

The Boat House in Saundersfoot has an impressive range of options, including a dedicated children’s menu and the beach hut style interior is a delight to all who visit.

For a truly adrenaline fuelled dinner and lots of laughs, head to The Royal Pier in Aberystwyth, where you and your family can enjoy a fully loaded arcade, as well as pizzas, burgers, chips and all other kid-friendly food.  

Roast beef with large yorkshire pudding

Pub Grub in Wales 

Brains is one of Wales’ most famous breweries and proudly owns a number of pubs and bars across the nation, including Grape & Olive in Swansea, a hit with our local team in South Wales. The menu here combines traditional pub grub with vegan and vegetarian options, Asian and South American inspiration and above all, fantastic views of Swansea Bay and Mumbles Pier.

For our guests in Mid Wales, a trip to the award-winning Nag’s Head in Garthmyl may be in order. Having won multiple AA Rosette’s and the accolade of Pub of the Year in 2018 and 2019, the Nags Head Inn menu definitely won’t disappoint.  

BUrgers by the beach at Croeso lounge

Casual & Relaxed Dining in Wales 

For light bites and a taste of West Wales, head to Wright’s Kitchen in Llanarthe. The menu changes weekly depending on seasonal produce, but the Pork Belly Cubano is the real star of the show, and you must sample one of the freshly made cakes on offer. You can either dine in and pick up some fresh, local produce from the shop while you're there, or use their handy 'click and collect' service – we highly recommend picking up a bottle of Wrights Tomato Catsup before heading home.

For a scrumptious brunch, the most casual but delicious meal of the day, head to Croeso Lounge in Swansea. If you’re into burgers, fries and sweet treats, we love Hills Burgers in the Brecon Beacons – the best in Wales!  

People sitting outside enjoying fish and chips and drinks

Al Fresco Dining in Wales 

The Potted Lobster in Absersoch is the perfect seaside treat, with deliciously fresh seafood and fish on offer in a lovely, comfortable and relaxed Al Fresco setting looking directly onto the beach.

Brasserie by the Sea in Langland near Mumbles is another by-the-sea Al Fresco dining spot that combines tastes of the ocean and glorious Welsh views. Fine wines, sweet treats, sharing platters and more can all be enjoyed at sunset from the restaurant’s large terrace.

If you’re joining us in the warmer months (or the colder if you fancy), a trip to Verdi’s Café for a fresh Welsh ice cream may be in order! With fabulous views across Mumbles and one of the best Sundae menus you’ll ever see, the whole family will love a trip to Verdi’s and all the sweet treats that come with it.  

We hope you enjoyed reading our whistle-stop food tour of Kent, Cornwall, Devon, Norfolk, Wales and the Lake District! To find more foodspirations from these regions and more, head to our travel guide section.  


Eliza Duckworth
Eliza Duckworth

Author

Keen traveller and full-time writer, delivering truly local insights to Original Cottages' range of UK holiday destinations.


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