The prestigious Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards have been announced – and a tiny Thai restaurant in Soho, London, has been crowned National Restaurant of the Year.
Kiln, headed up by chef and owner Ben Chapman, serves the kind of Thai food you’d be fed in the country’s rural north; it’s hot, sour, spicy, sweet and seriously punchy.
Arrive before the evening rush to snag a seat at the counter, and watch the chefs grilling over hot coals – and you’ve got to order their signature clay pot baked glass noodles, laced with Tamworth pork belly and brown crab meat.
The awards as a whole are Restaurant magazine’s annual countdown of the top 100 UK restaurants, as voted for by chefs, restaurateurs and food writers. So here are a few of the other winners you need to know about…
Best Restaurant in Northern Ireland: Wine & Brine, Moira
Chef Chris McGowan has done his time in Michelin-starred kitchens, but his solo venture Wine & Brine offers something a lot less fussy. There’s ever changing affordable early evening menus, featuring the likes of pan-roasted hake and rump of lamb, decadent Sunday lunches and the odd curry night.
Best restaurant in Wales: Ynyshir
This Michelin-starred restaurant has just five dining tables seating one to four people, and dishes up seasonal set menus, which you can watch the chefs prepare live in the open kitchen. True foodies can book the pass bench, which involves chef patron Gareth Ward designing a personalised menu, and talking you through it while he cooks.
Best restaurant in Scotland: Ondine, Edinburgh
For seafood and shellfish in Scotland, it’s got to be Ondine. They say they like to “take the fish on a journey”, and have a knack for experimenting with flavours from around the world. Whatever you order though, you’ve got to knock back a few oysters.
One to Watch: Cornerstone and Chef to Watch: Tom Brown
Cornerstone in Hackney Wick, East London, earned double celebrations for being the restaurant to watch – run by the chef to watch. The idea behind it is that you sit down for dinner and find yourself submerged in Cornish flavours and produce. Book a table now, before everyone else cottons on.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Raymond Blanc
A legend already, French chef Raymond Blanc of Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, shows no signs of slowing down (even though he turns 70 next year). What a guy.
And the rest of the winners are…
Gastropub of the Year: The Sportsman (Seasalter, Kent)
Cocktail List of the Year: Temper
Wine List of the Year: Noble Rot
OpenTable Diners’ Choice ‘Fit for Foodies’: The Chef’s Table, Chester
Chefs’ Chef of the Year: Nieves Barragán Mohacho
Restaurateur of the Year: Karam, Jyotin and Sunaina Sethi, JKS Restaurants
The Service Award: Core by Clare Smyth
Sustainable Restaurant of the Year: ODE true food, Devon