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27 Restaurants You Must Visit In 2017

Where to dine in style this year.

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1. James Cochran EC3, London

Jessica Jill Photography

Located in an unassuming spot above BYOC's Liverpool Street branch, this is the first permanent venture from James Cochran, aka former chef at two-Michelin-starred The Ledbury. Now is the time to go and sample the Michelin-standard cooking, while it's still reasonably priced and not impossible to book.

PS: While there are all manner of glorious things on the menu, it's the Caribbean jerk chicken that you should be ordering.

2. L'Enclume, Cartmel, Cumbria

L'Enclume

My parents recently drove up to Scotland to get a ferry back home to Ireland, and decided to stop here for lunch. That was last year, and I have not heard the end of it since. The way they tell it, L'Enclume has the best views, atmosphere, and food in the whole of the UK. In fact, no restaurant outside of London has been recommended to me more than this one.

If, like me, you have become a terrible Londoner who doesn't venture much outside the M25, let L'Enclume be your foodie pilgrimage this year.

3. Outlaw's Fish Kitchen, Port Isaac

Fish Kitchen

There's something about small plates that just drive me wild. It's probably born from my overwhelming tendency for food envy, which small plates fix – rather than jealously watch your dinner buddy eating and wonder if you've made a mistake, you can try everything. And in the case of Fish Kitchen, their small plates are definitely necessary; even the most immune to food envy among us would be hard pushed not to want to try every morsel of seafood on the menu.

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4. Two Cats, Birmingham

Two Cats

Is Baltic-Russian cuisine the new It food of 2017? If it's going to be a thing, like the culinary version of Gretchen Weiners, Two Cats will be the ones to make it so. Hidden in the jewellery district and marked only by a black cat sign, the restaurant is run by Niki Astley as something of a love letter to his Baltic-born girlfriend – and so far he's doing a brilliant job of making fetch happen. Though to be frank, anything cooked by this chef, whether it's Baltic or Brummie brown pea soup, will most likely taste amazing.

5. The Classroom, Cardiff

Owen Mathias Photography

A very cool new concept in dining, The Classroom can be found on the Cardiff and Vale College campus. The idea is that newbie chefs train on the job alongside more senior staff. If you're worried about being served squiffy food though, don't be – everything is more than up to par and showcases delicious Welsh ingredients, and you can leave knowing you've helped the next generation of chefs find their feet.

6. Breddos, London

Breddos Tacos

It's the classic story: Taco shack in a car park gets so popular they start doing pop-ups and residencies. Those get so popular they get a permanent place in Clerkenwell. Tale as old as time. If you like tacos, you need to go now and try these, as these will blow your mind. Whether you order the chorizo verde or the crispy masa chicken, there's a symphony of big, bold, sweet, salty flavour in every mouthful.

7. Barking Dog, Belfast

Barking Dog

When it comes to food in Northern Ireland, the thing to remember is that down-to-earth, homemade food is what they'll always do best. Case in point: the Barking Dog, purveyors of deliciously comforting seasonal cuisine. My granny, dad, and I went here for lunch last year, and it still sticks out in my mind as one of the better meals of 2016. Not only did they do the best scampi I've ever had, the beer was also on point, and the staff ridiculously lovely.

8. Sticky Walnut, Chester

Sticky Walnut

A gorgeous little bistro that's well worth making the effort to visit. Expect British and European food done simply but very bloody well: classically good chicken liver pate, sausage cassoulet with melt-in-the-mouth flaked ham hock, and of course, sticky walnuts, hidden in a salad of beetroot, ricotta, and spiced pumpkin seeds.

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9. Casamia, Bristol

Casamia

This place isn't new – the two brothers who made it into what it is have been lauded up and down the country, most notably being described as "two little geniuses" by Gordon Ramsay. Now, despite the tragic loss of one of the head chefs in 2015, it continues to excel. Maybe not a new suggestion, but if you haven't been yet, it's definitely time to make the trip.

10. The Sportsman, Whitstable

The Sportsman

I feel like I've been recommending the Sportsman for a long time (both the food and views are superior), but this year saw them given the crowning title in the National Restaurant Awards. Which clinches the deal really. Best to go now, before it gets any more popular – if it's even possible for it to get any more popular.

11. Kiln, London

Kiln

Is there any more magical combination of words than Thai barbecue? Kiln is easily one of the best London openings of 2016, and it's easy to see why. They nail the whole "open kitchen" thing, with the feeling being less spectator sport, more actually eating in your buddy-who's-a-chef's home. Then the food itself is a masterpiece; imagine soft, fatty lamb, beef and flaky fish falling apart under layers of charred outer edges, crusted spices, and sweet, sticky sauce.

Pro tip: Be sure to call in advance to make sure you'll be there when they're cooking the suckling pig.

12. Bala Baya, London

Bala Baya

Tel Aviv-style Israeli food from one of Ottolenghi's protégés is what you'll find at this buzzy new London restaurant. Go for the soft, tea-smoked aubergine, stay for the doughy, chocolatey burnt babka.

13. Bundobust, Leeds

Tom Joy / Via Bundobust

Craft beer and Indian street food is a match made in heaven. Which is the idea behind Bundobust. It's a collaboration between two companies: the award-winning Indian vegetarian restaurant Prashad and former beer bar of the year The Sparrow. Go and find out why they say two is better than one – this restaurant here is the proof.

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14. The Rabbit In The Moon, Manchester

@sarahgormley7 / Via instagram.com, @Caz_Ashton / Via instagram.com

If nothing else, go to The Rabbit In The Moon because it'll be a 100% unique evening. It's a "space-age Asian" dining concept, which I think it's safe to say probably isn't something you'll have experienced before. It's not all concept, though – the food is reputably very good, coming from Michelin-starred chef, Michael O'Hare.

15. Ruby, Exmouth

Ruby

These guys closed up shop in Exeter and moved to Exmouth last year, and the Devon town is better for it. Try the Mutha Ducker, smoked pulled duck leg in a bun, or the Bad Man, pictured above.

16. A Wong, London

@vjwoonsen / Via Instagram: @vjwoonsen, @bittenwritten / Via Instagram: @bittenwritten, http://@x.melodyy / Via Instagram: @x.melodyy

I have a huge thing for Chinese food. If I could have made every restaurant on this list dim sum–oriented, believe me I would have. Alas, in the interest of balance, I'll stick to A Wong.

Running along the lines of Hakkasan, Hunan, Yauatcha, and HKK, here you'll find stylish, modern interpretations of Chinese dishes, but, brilliantly, at reasonable prices. Think plump, steaming dim sum and street food that can be ordered by the piece for £1.30 a pop. Go before they inevitably decide to hike the prices.

17. Lake Road Kitchen, Ambleside, Cumbria

Lake Road Kitchen

These guys do cracking bread. Crusty, fat loaves served with virgin butter to spoon on. And if the eyes are the window to the soul, then surely bread is the window to a restaurant's. The bread is just the beginning: The food is Nordic-inspired, with all the best things that term entails. Foraged ingredients, a near obsession with local produce, and gorgeously calming Scandi interiors.

18. Smokestak, London

Smokestak

It seems the hottest dining tip you can take this year is to watch the street food trucks, and see which ones get their own permanent locations. All the best new restaurants in London have come up that way, and Smokestak is no exception.

Serving a more adult version of classic barbecue, here you'll find cured pigs jowls, crispy ox cheek, romesco-drizzled monkfish, beetroot baked in salt and served with hazelnuts, and of course, all the beef brisket and thick-cut pork ribs your heart could desire.

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19. The Wilderness, Birmingham

The Wilderness

Creative, brilliantly dramatic British food from Alex Claridge, a chef who is definitely one to watch. The restaurant is every bit as dramatic as the food, with moss growing over the walls and green rioting over every available surface.

If you have the dollar, order the tasting menu – it may be bloody expensive, but it's worth it. And at the rate this place is booking up, you may not be able to get back in anytime soon. Best to make the most of your visit while you're there.

20. Maray, Liverpool

Maray

A little slice of Paris's 4th arrondissement in Liverpool, here you'll find gorgeous small plates (octopus oozing with pomegranate molasses, burrata studded with pistachio, pickled aubergine and smoky duck) and gorgeous drinks too. I am 100% here for the beetroot and hibiscus G&T.

21. The Gannet, Glasgow

The Gannet

Glasgow food just makes me happy. Sure, Edinburgh may be widely known as the foodie capital of Scotland, but this year you need to discover Glasgow. Because their food is getting just as good as Edinburgh, but cheaper and with far less pretension (though I do say this as someone who can get incredibly pretentious about food, so my views on the subject may be wildly skewed).

Case in point: The Gannet. A gloriously cosy Scottish restaurant that serves up just as cosy food: veal sweetbreads, red deer with crisp potato, and partridge done with quail's eggs and caramelised onions are all on the menu.

22. Kricket, London

Kricket

Once only to be found in a tiny space in Brixton, Kricket have now made the move over the river to Soho, giving you a hint of some of the success their Brixton branch had. Twenty covers just wasn't enough.

An homage to India, here you'll find the best of British produce and Indian spices. Langoustines bright with turmeric, duck leg kathi rolls, and the beautifully delicate pistachio and rose misti doi are just some of the myriad dishes you need to try.

23. Inver, Strathlachlan, Argyll and Bute

Inver

2017 is looking set to be the year of Scotland. It's being heralded left, right, and center as one of the most beautiful spots in the world. And its tiny, remote restaurants mean there's all the more reason to go. Inver is one such location; feast on the sweeping views and breathtakingly dramatic lochs on the drive here, then feast again on the just as beautiful Highlands-Nordic fusion cuisine.

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24. The Larder House, Bournemouth

Bournemouth

Dorset's food and drink scene is very up-and-coming, and James Fowler, the chef behind The Larder House, is part and parcel of that. Drive down and see for yourself, and if the overnight braised steak doesn't convert you, then 1) you may need to get your tastebuds checked, and 2) go try Dorshi in Bridport for some brilliant East Asian cuisine, and know that if you're still not sold on Dorset after that, there's definitely something up with your tastebuds.

25. Crabshakk, Glasgow

Crabshakk

Just simple seafood done brilliantly. For a bonafide crab and oyster addict like myself, that's all I'll ever need to hear to become a loyal disciple of any restaurant. And Crabshakk is the embodiment of that. If you're a fan of langoustines, shellfish chowder, and everything in between, all available at non-bank-breaking prices, you need to visit this Glaswegian nirvana ASAP.

26. Barrio Comida, Newcastle

Barrio Comida

The head chef here (Shaun Hurrell, for those who want to know) had a stint in fancy London restaurants, moved back up, and realised what Newcastle really needed, rather than haute cuisine, was just some bloody good tacos. So, he opened Barrio Comida. And I'm suggesting you go try it, as I think all any of us ever really need are just some bloody good tacos.

27. The Kingham Plough, Oxfordshire

Kingham Plough

Yes, I love fancy fine dining. But you will also regularly find me going to town on a quarter pounder with cheese in McDonald's (let he without sin cast the first stone, I KNOW YOU LIKE A DIRTY FAST FOOD BURGER TOO), and honestly, there's nothing that gets me off more than a solid pub – ain't nothing wrong with a good 'spoons, friends.

The Kingham Plough combines the best of both worlds: cosy, down-to-earth surrounds, but their pub grub is elevated to an artform, thanks to chef Emily Watkins. Lovely homey pub with a fine dining edge? Sign me up.

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