British food, at its best, is tasty, simple and full of flavour. Some of our favourite dishes are almost as old as the isles themselves, while others derive from distant corners of the Commonwealth.
From appealing pies in the Midlands, to mouth-watering molluscs on the coast, Britain is awash with delicious delicacies. Here are the UK’s ten top food specialities and the best places to experience them.
How can something as simple as the Yorkshire pudding taste sooo good? Just throw together milk, eggs, flour and give it some heat and hey presto! You’ll have yourself a pud. The first known mention of a ‘Yorkshire’ pudding, which complements meat and gravy, dates back to the early 18th century. It’s been one of the nation’s guilty pleasures ever since
The best places for a Yorkshire pudding
Reform Social & Grill, London
The Guy Fawkes Arms, Knaresborough
Hole in Wall, York
The Golden Fleece, York
What could be more quintessentially British than fish and chips? Our shores are blessed with some of the finest seafood on the planet and, thanks to good old Sir Walter Raleigh, our land is packed with potatoes. Cheap to produce and lip-smacking tasty, it’s little wonder it remains the country’s favourite dish.
The best places for fish and chips
Bardsley’s of Baker Street, Brighton
Scotts of Hemsley, York
Kerbisher & Malt, London
Poppie’s Fish and Chips, London
Its versatility and (sometimes surprising) durability have made the humble pasty part of the British diet for almost a millennia. It was originally the food of medieval upper classes (then filled with rich meats and fruits), before being adopted as the meal of choice for Cornish tin miners in the 18th century. Nowadays, rules about the use of the ‘Cornish pasty’ name are pretty strict. It must have a minimum of 12.5% meat, 25% veg and be produced west of the Tamar in the county of Cornwall.
The best places for a Cornish pasty
Warrens Bakery, Various Locations
Crantock Cornwall, Newquay
Proper Cornish Food Company, Bodmin
Pengenna Pasties, Various Locations
Hampsons of Hayle, Hayle
It’s said that the first ever ‘pork pie’ was served to King Richard II in 1390, however no one is saying that it’s to blame for the War of The Roses. Whether the idea behind the savoury treat came from the Leicestershire market town of Melton Mowbray is anyone’s guess, but locals believe the ‘pork pie’ to be a home-grown culinary export. The fact that it’s widely regarded as a ‘Melton Mowbray Pork pie’ might give some credence to that suggestion…
The best places for a pork pie
Edwards of Conwy, Conwy
Dickson Morris, Melton Mowbray
Bray’s Cottage Pork Pies, Norfolk
The Hull Pie, Hull
The Black Olive Delicatessen, Southwold
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, the chances are that you’re a fan of this delightful dessert. Compared to others in this list, the origins of the sticky toffee pudding are quite well known. It was created by Francis Coulson, a revered chef and co-owner of the Sharrow Bay Hotel, in 1970. Since then, the popular pudding has become a staple on dessert menus around the world, but its journey began in the Lake District.
The best places for a sticky toffee pudding
Eagle & Child Inn, Kendal
ffionas Restaurants, London
Browns Brasserie & Bar, Various Locations
No dish symbolises Britain’s connection with Asia more than the Balti. It came to prominence in the late 1970s in an area of Birmingham which affectionately become known as the ‘Balti Triangle’ (due to the vast number of authentic curry houses). Unlike other curry dishes, it’s made using vegetable oil and dried spices and is traditionally served in the steel bowl (called a ‘balti’) that it’s cooked in. Well, that explains where the name comes from!
The best places for a Balti curry
EastZEast, Various locations
Shabab Balti Restaurant, Birmingham
Al Frash, Birmingham
Akbar’s, Various locations
Mughal e Azam Restaurant, Birmingham
The pretty Kent seaside town of Whitstable has been a hotbed for oysters since the Roman conquests. The region’s cool waters and shallow bays are ideal breeding ground for the celebrated clam. Now considered a genuine seasonal delicacy, during Victorian times they were seen as food for the poor because of the huge numbers harvested from the North Sea. Quite ironic, don’t you think?
The best places for Whitstable oysters
The Whitstable Oyster Company, Whitstable
The Coastal Kitchen, Whitstable
West Whelks, Whitstable
The Oyster Pearl, Whitstable
The Crab & Winkle Restaurant, Whitstable
Some food historians think that Middle Eastern traders may have introduced clotted cream to Britain some 2,000 years ago. If true, it would make it by far Britain’s oldest delicacy. Its genius is in its simplicity (as these things so often are), being essentially just heated cow’s milk. For centuries, Brits have enjoyed consuming clotted cream in various forms, usually on a scone and topped with lashings of strawberry jam. *OH YES!* This is why it’s been popular for so long…
The best places for Cornish clotted cream
The Cornish Arms, St Merryn
Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm, Newquay
Trewithen Dairy, Lostwithiel
The Waymaker, Falmouth
Gay’s Creamery, Dawlish
Named after the ancient English county that invented it, the Cumberland sausage isn’t a banger for the faint-hearted. Oh no. Traditionally they can be over 20 inches long and presented in a coil. So they’re a bit different to any other British sausage on the market (or in Sainsbury’s). Nowadays they’re sold in average sizes, but occasionally you’ll see a traditional Cumberland. However, it’s not advised to eat the whole thing in one sitting… unless you’re Adam Richman, of course.
The best places for a Cumberland sausage
Albert Matthews, Various locations
Huddleston’s Butchers, Windermere
Higginsons of Grange, Grange-over-Sands
Believe it or not, the Bakewell pudding was actually the result of a kitchen mishap in the White Horse Inn (now Rutland Arms) in Bakewell. Rather than making a strawberry tart, Mrs Graves (the Inn’s Mistress) and her assistant stumbled on a recipe that’s still going strong almost 200 years later. The Bakewell tart is perhaps the best known variation of Mrs Graves baking bodge job although the cherry Bakewell is also exceedingly popular, too.
The best places for a Bakewell pudding or tart
The Patisserie, Malton
The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop, Bakewell
Pointing Dog, Bakewell
Sandside Cafe, Whitby
Wyes Waters Tea Rooms, Bakewell