With the ‘New Normal’ necessitating socially-distanced dining, many restaurants are making the most of their outdoor spaces.
From beachside beauty spots to Thames-side terraces, here are some of our MICHELIN Inspectors’ favourite places for an alfresco meal.
La Pont de la Tour
Location: Southwark, London
When the sun is shining on the capital, whether you’re with a group of friends or dining à deux, few restaurants can beat the setting of this spacious, modern brasserie on the banks of the Thames. Enjoy French-influenced cooking on the terrace overlooking the water, with breathtaking views of Tower Bridge.
Duke of Cumberland Arms
Location: Henley, West Sussex
A hidden gem, this pretty pub is nestled in beautiful tiered gardens which incorporate a nature reserve with trickling streams, trout ponds and splendid South Downs views. The modern dining area opens onto a decked terrace and menus offer dishes with British and Mediterranean influences, created using local and home-grown produce.
The Rat Inn
Location: Anick, Northumberland
Set in a small hillside hamlet, this friendly, traditional 18C drovers’ inn comes with wooden beams, an open range and a multi-level, colour-filled garden boasting arbours and fantastic Tyne Valley views. The daily changing menu showcases good quality produce in hearty, rustic dishes; the Northumberland rib of beef ‘for two or more’ is a must.
Bistro at the Boathouse
Location: Henley-on-Thames, Oxon
This contemporary restaurant, with its floor to ceiling glass doors, lies in an enviable location right by the River Thames; sit on the delightful decked terrace with its heated pods and watch the boats go by. The young chef-owner, Shaun Dickens, offers carefully cooked unfussy dishes made with local ingredients.
Location: Walberswick, Suffolk
A welcoming, popular pub in an Arts and Crafts building; its sizeable garden features a wood-fired oven and leads down to the beach. Global flavours punctuate the menu, with seafood the standout choice. If you’re staying the night, ask for a wood-clad chalet in the garden; breakfasts are impressive.
Location: Matlock, Derbyshire
This long-standing family-run restaurant boasts floor to ceiling windows and a delightful terrace with great views of the famous stone bridge and fast-flowing river. Unfussy, modern British dishes are attractively presented and display the occasional Mediterranean touch.
Location: Isle of Wight, Hampshire
Hidden at the back of the George Hotel is this airy brasserie with a sizeable terrace offering views over a lovely garden which leads down to the water’s edge. Its open all day and offers everything from breakfast, snacks and afternoon tea to contemporary brasserie classics featuring island produce. Look out for the Lymington-Yarmouth ferry!
Location: Mousehole, Cornwall
An old coastguard’s cottage which sits in a small fishing village; its lovely terrace and sub-tropical garden have views out towards St Clement’s Isle. Its open-plan interior has recently been redecorated and the well-presented seasonal brasserie dishes display a Mediterranean edge. There are bedrooms too – some with balconies and most with sea views.
Porthminster Beach Café
Location: St Ives, Cornwall
This charming 1930s beach house is in a fantastic location overlooking Porthminster Sands. It’s hung with Cornish artwork, has a nautical style and boasts a glass-walled heated terrace. The seasonal seafood menu offers vibrantly flavoured dishes with Asian influences. Service is relaxed and friendly.
Ruin Beach Café
Location: Tresco, Isles of Scilly, Cornwall
An informal beachside restaurant set in an old smugglers cottage: the rustic room is decorated with striking Cornish art and opens onto a terrace which has superb St Martin views. Colourful Mediterranean dishes have big, bold flavours; seafood and pizzas from the wood-burning oven are a hit.
Location: Oxwich, Wales
Distinction: 1 Michelin Star
Opening 5th August
The former coal store of the Penrice Estate is a charming stone building beside the beach and its lovely terrace affords panoramic views across the bay. Sophisticated dishes are recognisable and reassuring in their construction and flavour contrasts are well-judged, with the various components working together to put the spotlight on the main ingredient.
Bryn Williams at Porth Eirias
Location: Colwyn Bay, Wales
Distinction: Bib Gourmand
Opening 3rd August
A striking brasserie with a stunning beachside location, a relaxed, friendly feel, faux industrial styling and blue leather banquettes. The eponymous owner is a proud Welshman and his cooking is pleasingly unfussy. The restaurant’s location is reflected on the menu, which offers plenty of locally caught fish and seafood.
Craig Millar @16 West End
Location: St Monans, Scotland
Opening 29th July
This former pub is set in a sleepy village on the coast of the kingdom of Fife and has an enviable waterside location with clear views of the harbour and across the Firth of Forth. Given its location, it’s no surprise that the menu offers lots of fantastic fish and seafood; cooking is creative, up-to-date and full of flavour.
Location: Applecross, Scotland
Take the scenic route over the hair-raising, single-track Bealach na Ba, with its stunning views, super-steep gradient and hairpin bends, to reach this remote inn with its friendly service and a bustling atmosphere. Dine on the freshest of seafood, often caught within sight of the door. And keep an eye out for wild deer too!
Location: Kylesku, Scotland
Breathtaking views of Loch Glendhu and the mountains make this 17C coaching inn an essential stop-off point. Fresh seafood is the way to go, with langoustines and mussels landed 200 yards away. Relax on the waterside terrace before heading to one of the cosy bedrooms; two have balconies with panoramic views.
Location: Gorey, Republic of Ireland
This smart, rustic bistro sits in a restored outbuilding within the grounds of the famous Marlfield House, next to a superb kitchen garden filled with herbs, fruits and vegetables. Sit on the wonderful sandstone terrace with a glass of wine and dine on unfussy, global cuisine.