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The most delicious restaurants near London

Talk about destination dining: if you're looking for a weekend plan, we've got the best restaurants within an easy journey from London, in Oxfordshire, Surrey, Sussex, Cambridgeshire and beyond

Best restaurants near London: the terrace at Wilding, Oxford

Yeah, we know London has some pretty great food. In fact, we love the city's food scene here so much that we have an entire sister website called Foodism to celebrate it. But look just outside the M25 and you'll find plenty of excellent restaurants and pubs serving mind-blowing food just a hop, skip and a short drive or train ride away from the concrete jungle.

Whether you're after restaurants to team with romps across lush hillsides, spots by the sea to soak up the sunshine, or quaint country pubs, we've got it – and all within a two-hour drive(ish) of London.

After a year of enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the city, we're all ready for something a little bit further flung. This summer, road trips around the UK are filling the void travel has left in our hearts and our bellies. They're a much-needed escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and – even better – some seriously great restaurants are an easy drive from London.

While a city break in Naples and a weekend eating pastels in Portugal are still off the cards, we can still make the most of everything the UK has to offer, and food is always at the forefront of our minds. And it sure as hell makes a break from our crumb-filled couch.

There's a whole world of eating out there, so we've put together this guide to the best restaurants near London to help you find it. 

Grab your GPS, a mate who's happy to be designated driver and off you go...

Burnt Orange

59 Middle St, Brighton BN1 1AL. Drive 1h50 from London

Best restaurants near London: Burnt Orange, Brighton

Forget the food for a second: this new Brighton spot will have music curated by Fatboy Slim, paying homage to the area where iconic music label Skint Records first began. Now we've got that out of the way, we can get back the first order of business, the menu. Burnt Orange is the newest site from restaurateur Razak Helalat, also behind The Coal Room and The Salt Shed, which should put it top of your hit list from the get-go. Food here is designed to be convivial and casual for long evenings grazing and catching up with friends and family – crab and samphire fritters with brown crab tahini (we'd probably drive there right this second to try this dish alone) and stracciatella with burnt bread, lardo and salted cherries (Alright, maybe we'd drive there for this dish too) set the scene for mains like chargrilled octopus with harissa butter and toasted pine nuts. Right, who's got the car keys?

burnt-orange.co.uk

Wilding

11-12 Little Clarendon Street, Oxford, OX1 2HP. Drive 2h10 from London

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The clue to this new Oxford arrival is in the name: it nods to the practise of rewilding, or returning overworked land to its original state. So it makes sense that the restaurant focuses on having as little impact as possible on the environment, working with agile, like-minded suppliers to create a menu of local, seasonal produce. So far, so good. The kitchen is headed up by Dominique Goltinger, who previously worked at Bistro Bruno Loubet and Brixton's beloved Tuscan-inspired restaurant Maremma. Hand-dived scallops with seashore vegetables and wild capers, washed down with a glass of wine from the 400-bottle-strong cellar? Don't mind if we do.

wilding.wine

Parker's Tavern at the University Arms

Parker's Tavern, Regent Street, Cambridge CB2 1AD. Drive 2h17 from London

Best restaurants near London: Parker's Tavern at the University Arms, Cambridge

OK, so yes we're focusing on restaurants here, but if you can team a meal here with a night at the hotel this restaurant sits in, well, that's definitely the right way to do it. The University Arms is technically the oldest hotel in Cambridge (it opened in 1834), but an £80m renovation in 2018 means it's definitely bang up to date. Think old English decor, with a kind of nerdy twist: majestic Cambridge blue accents complement stained wood furniture, with plenty of well-packed bookshelves. The theme carries into Parker's Tavern, which echoes the university college dining rooms – but the food here is anything but school dinners. Chef director Tristran Welch has revamped English pub grub favourites, ranging from a seriously good spag bol to char-grilled lobster and chips. Lucky enough to be eating breakfast? Get the kippers.

universityarms.com

The Hinds Head at Bray

High Street, Bray, SL6 2AB. Drive 1h45 from London

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Heston Blumenthal blends gastronomic creativity and British history at this pub The Hinds Head, where quintessential old English surrounds give you a real sense of place – and unexpected company thanks to an eclectic taxidermy collection. From cocktails in the Royal Lounge to modern takes on British classics in the 15C dining room, a meal here is an experience from start to finish.

hindsheadbray.com

The Crown at Bray

High St, Bray, Maidenhead, SL6 2AH. Drive 1h45 from London

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Heston Blumenthal continues his domination of Bray with his takeover of 16th-century coaching The Crown. Low beams, an open fireplace and a courtyard draped vines bring vibes aplenty, but so does a hard-hitting menu with classic British dishes like London-cured salmon, suet-crusted steak and ale pie and lemon sole with potted shrimps. Just a light lunch, then…

thecrownatbray.com


The Waterside Inn

Ferry Rd, Bray, Maidenhead, SL6 2AT. Drive 1h45 from London

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"Un restaurant avec chambres" (or, in less fancy-French terms, a restaurant with rooms) The Waterside Inn is yet another spectacular restaurant in the assuming dining hotspot Bray. Like Blumenthal's Hinds Head and The Crown, the pub was born from London chefs' success – The Waterside Inn brings Michel and Albert Roux's classic French dining to Berkshire. Lobster, rabbit and a soufflé of the day provide the perfect foil to gently undulating willows and water.

waterside-inn.co.uk


The Clock House

High St, Ripley, Woking GU23 6AQ. Drive 1h30 from London

When you think of leafy Surrey, Ripley is probably the kind of town that springs to mind. Red-brick houses with bowed roofs line narrow streets, and trees drape delicately into the river for a bucolic British scene worthy of a postcard – not bad going given you're just round the corner from gargantuan grey Woking. As with most places like this, there's also an abundance of excellent eating and drinking to be found here, mostly in the form of old English pubs like The Anchor, but also a fine-dining restaurant The Clock House. This is a proper white tablecloth place, but the atmosphere is still relaxed and friendly – no top hat and ties required – and food is anything but fusty, with dishes like Norfolk quail with fennel and black curry, or Isle of Wight tomatoes with smoked eel and nasturtium.

theclockhouserestaurant.co.uk

The Swan at Esher

2 Hare Ln, Claygate, Esher KT10 9BS. Drive 1h45 from London

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Another country(ish) pub; another London chef bringing his stamp to the suburbs. This time it's tapas maestro Jose Pizarro working his magic at The Swan in Esher. You'll be sat at what looks like a classic English country pub, but the food is straight out of Spain, with a British twist: 'barbecue tapas' dishes like grilled British asparagus with le peral, pickled mushroom, pea shoots and almonds; and grilled wild white prawns with fennel, orange, macadamia nuts and saffron aioli make the best of both worlds. Esher's pretty darn lucky, that's all we're saying.

josepizarro.com

Fordwich Arms

King St, Fordwich, Canterbury CT2 0DB. Drive 2h30 from London

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Chuck together a former Clove Club chef, a giant, gorgeous country boozer and a tiny town in Kent, and what do you get? The next hotspot in destination dining, that's what. When the Fordwich Arms (located in Fordwich, officially the smallest town in Britain) reopened under new ownership in 2018, the local area probably didn't know what hit it. Three year later and the food here is still up there on the list of must-eats: we'd sling a chicken liver parfait with gingerbread and red grape down our gullets any day, especially when a glass of superb blanc de blancs is involved. Thankfully, if you're willing to drive two and a half hours outside of the city, you can do just that.

fordwicharms.co.uk

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