I abhor food decisions. I frequently suffer from menu envy, so I have to know what my dining companions are ordering before I make a decision, and FOFD (fear of food disappointment) often steers me away from innovative food combinations. Tasting menus are my saviour - minimal risk and maximum flavour. Here are some of my favourite restaurants with tasting menus worth blowing your calorie count for.
Gainsborough Bath Spa – Bath, Somerset
In the delectable seven-course tasting menu at Dan Moon at The Gainsborough Restaurant, fresh, seasonal ingredients are used to good effect. The restaurant has been awarded three AA Rosettes and featured in the prestigious Tatler Restaurant Guide. The menu features smoked fillet of beef with pane quail egg, foie gras and fennel; sautéed scallop served with shellfish risotto, yuzu, king prawn and seaweed; and roast Creedy Carver duck with confit spring roll, plum and sesame.
Prices start from £80pp for the seven-course tasting menu.
Fishmore Hall – Ludlow, Shropshire
Think luxurious rooms, indulgent bathrooms, and a menu that makes the best of this foodie part of the UK and you'll have a picture of what you’ll find at Fishmore Hall, a privately owned boutique country house hotel overlooking the historic town of Ludlow. At the heart of the hotel is the restaurant, Forelles, offering the best of Shropshire dining. The innovative cooking of head chef Joe Gould and his team uses ingredients sourced from local producers in the Shropshire Marches and presents unusual flavour groupings, such as pork with red prawn, aubergine, apricot and harissa.
The nine-course tasting menu is £70pp and there’s a vegetarian menu available.
Drakes – Brighton
The restaurant at Drakes is nestled inside Brighton’s finest designer hotel and is comparably stylish and elegant. It is one of the few remaining fine dining restaurants in Brighton, where crisp white tablecloths adorn the tables and the service is exemplary. Chef Andy Vitez’s skills are evident in the accomplished dishes and creative seasonal menus. A five-course Chef’s Taster Menu is available daily, with a regularly changing menu to reflect the season’s best and freshest produce, like cured mackerel and burnt chive emulsion with rhubarb pickle .
Taster Menus are £70pp and vegetarian and vegan menus are available.
Northcote – Lancashire
Retaining its Michelin star since 1995, the four-AA Rosette restaurant at Northcote, a country house hotel on the edge of Lancashire’s Ribble Valley, offers a six-course tasting menu designed by executive chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen. The winter menu features dishes such as sticky veal sweetbread with mushroom, verjus and thyme, while the plant-based tasting menu features hand-cut roast celeriac with orchard apple and prune. The Chef’s Table includes a guided tour, sliding glass doors for a prime view into the kitche,n and screens to watch close-ups of the chefs in action.
The six-course tasting menu is £85pp or £67pp for the vegetarian option.
Oddfellows On The Park – Cheadle, Cheshire
Oddfellows On The Park in Greater Manchester is the newest addition to the Oddfellows family and is a restoration of a Victorian Gothic Mansion set in the 100 acres of Bruntwood Park. Quirky contemporary interiors tell the story of Bruntwood Hall’s exciting history, while The Galloping Major restaurant is named after the second owner of the hall, who built the impressive ballroom the restaurant sits within. Chef Ross Chatburn takes inspiration from the parkland for his food, foraging for ingredients whenever possible. The rhubarb cheesecake with lychee sorbet on our menu was a winner.
The seven-course tasting menu is a bargain at £55pp.
Tudor Farmhouse – Clearwell, Forest of Dean
Located at the heart of Clearwell, a small working village famed for its caves and castle, an hour’s drive from Bristol and Cardiff is Tudor Farmhouse. The former 13th-century working farm is now a boutique hotel and restaurant that exudes style. After busy days exploring local attractions like Puzzlewood, Symonds Yat and the Sculpture Trail, head back to the hotel for a gourmet meal cooked by head chef Rob Cox, who previously won South West Chef of the Year. The hotel’s six-course tasting menu includes the likes of Dorset crab served with apple, coriander and fennel and dark chocolate tart served with confit orange sorbet.
The tasting menu is priced from £60pp.