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Staycation | Our 5 favourite holidays for foodies in the UK

By Rebecca Miles – 19th June 2020

Here at Girl About we love our food and drink, and we love seeking out the best of what the UK has to offer, so this week we’re shining the spotlight on our five favourite holidays for foodies in the UK. 

Lockdown has inevitably hit the food and drink industry hard, but the people who work in the nation’s restaurants, cafes and bars are nothing if not inventive, and it’s been great to see the imaginative ways they’ve been adapting to keep us well fed and watered during the Covid crisis. 

But this isn’t just about the immediate here and now, we’re also sharing some old favourites that we’re looking forward to returning to, and some classics that we hope will be around for long into the future. 

So join us as we take a delicious journey to some incredible foodie towns, cities and regions featuring the country’s best restaurants, bars, cafes and food and drink makers. We’re heading to East London, Edinburgh, the Lake District, South Devon and Malton in Yorkshire, and taking in everything from gelato at Groovy Moo in Malton to artisan gin from the Salcombe distillery. 

Malton, North Yorkshire

Groovy Moo ice cream in Malton

This pretty market town on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors has transformed itself over the past 10 years and is now proudly the food capital of Yorkshire. But it’s not just known for its many and great restaurants and pubs, it also has some of the area’s best food producers – the Ginger Pig butchers are up the road; Groovy Moo Gelato (pictured above) is the town’s top-rated attraction – and is unusual in that it still has a cattle market twice a week. 

 

For Nat, Girl About North Yorkshire, Malton is one of her favourite places on her patch and says no visit to the town is complete without checking these places out: 

  • The New Malton A fine-dining pub, it’s listed in the Michelin Eating out in pubs guide and is loved by both locals and visitors for its diverse menu. Temporarily closed due to the corona crisis, we’re missing the king prawn and monkfish ravioli, and the crispy shredded beef and toasted macadamia nut salad.
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  • YO Bakehouse, an artisan bakehouse just off the Market Square. Currently only open for takeaways, we’re drooling over the Manchester tarts and salted caramel brownies.
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  • The Royal Oak Pub and Kitchen serve what is widely known as the best Sunday roasts in North Yorkshire (also temporarily closed). Biker friendly, family-friendly, dog-friendly – it’s just an all-round wonderfully friendly spot.
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  • Chapter One Bistro, a Good Food award winner, it’s currently open for takeaways and offering everything from cakes and cookies to celebration menus.
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  • The Deli of Malton, the place to visit in Malton to get a full taste of the area, it’s open and serving its finest fresh sandwiches, plus its full range of deli products, cheeses and wine.
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  • For a full list of the companies offering delivery and takeaway currently, visit Malton Delivers. 

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh at night

There’s more to Edinburgh than the Fringe and huge Hogmanay celebrations – over the past few years the city’s food scene has erupted, and it’s not just about the brilliant bars and restaurants. You’ll find some of Scotland’s finest food producers in the city, as well as quirky cafes and tasty takeaways, many of whom have adapted to the corona crisis with imagination and inventiveness. 

 

Courtney is our Girl About Edinburgh and she’s been doing a great job of trying as many of the ‘new normal’ options as possible. These have been her favourites during lockdown, use it as a shortlist of must-visits as soon as we can travel to, in and around Scotland again.

Takeaway menu with social distancing measures in place:

  • Twelve Triangles offers a wide variety of breads, pastries, cakes and sandwiches, not to mention amazing coffee and kombucha.
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  • Bross Bagels, with five branches across the city, they offer a wide variety of bagel options – a must for any bagel lover out there.
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  • Rose Theatre Café Anything from mac and cheese to their famous cinnamon rolls, these guys have you covered for your on-the-go snacks while walking through the city.
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  • Lovecrumbs Offering some of the best cakes and sweet treats in town, along with hot and cold beverages, to take away from the hatch.
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Delivery and collection for premade and finish at home meals (orders required):

  • Borough The well-respected and fiercely independent and seasonal restaurant has started doing finish at-home meals with a wide variety of wines to pair, just contact them for further information on the wine selection. They’ll also soon be starting collection for some foods on the go.
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  • Timberyard This family-run modern classic marries foraging, smoking and pickling with fine French techniques, and its fame has spread far and wide. Not only providing finish at-home meals, but they also have wine, groceries and every provision you may need.
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  • Grams What started as a market stall selling raw, vegan, clean, dairy-free, gluten-free and refined sugar-free cakes have evolved into a well-established cafe selling healthy hot and cold fast food. During lockdown Gram has shifted to selling weekly meal prep boxes of yummy goodness, as well as offering brunch at the weekends.

 

Treats delivery!!! (order slots are advertised on Instagram weekly): 

 

  • Considerit Chocolate  A close call between these and Naked Bakery for the best donuts in town, if you’re looking for wacky flavours and filling bursting out as soon as you bite in, here is the place for you. And they’ve just started doing local deliveries.
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  • Mimi’s Bakehouse Not only is Mimi’s still providing its lovely tray bakes, cupcakes and birthday cakes, the team also have an afternoon tea available, for delivery or to collect.
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  • Beetroot Sauvage A wellness centre and vegan cafe, during lockdown it’s been offering brunch boxes and afternoon tea selections to collect each weekend. Booking in advance is essential. 

The Lake District, Cumbria

The Lake District

Historically known for its traditional afternoon teas, Kendal Mint Cake and Cumbrian sausage, in recent years the Lake District has undergone a foodie transformation, embracing both its excellent, locally sourced seasonal produce and plenty of global influences. 

The area now boasts four Michelin stars, and its pubs just keep getting better and better. Throw in tapas bars, vegetarian cafes and cosy bistros and there’s food for all the family. 

 

And who better to introduce us to some of the highlights than Ali, our Girl About the Lake District? A mix of places for now and for when pubs and restaurants can reopen, we’ll be using this shortlist to plan our next visit.  

  • The Kirkstile Inn, Loweswater A super cosy pub in the heart of rural North West Lake District, they source as much food as they can locally, everything is fresh, and menus are changed seasonally. The staff are always friendly and I would recommend booking ahead, especially if you’d like to sit in the pub. They were named Pub of the Year 2019 by CAMRA West Cumbria and have their famous Loweswater Gold on tap. During lockdown, they’ve been selling click and collect beers and ales, and it’s open for bedroom bookings from 4th July.
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  • The Fellpack, Keswick A modern, fresh place to eat in Keswick, a fun town in the North Lake District. The menus here are changed with the seasons and all the food sounds, looks and tastes amazing. There are plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans and there’s a real outdoors-y vibe – they also offer takeaway ‘to fuel your adventures’ (which they’re aiming to restart soon). If you’re looking for a more relaxed vibe then they have a sister burger bar, The Round, 500m down the road, great for a chilled evening or families.
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  • Askham Hall, Askham Winner of the 2017 Taste of Cumbria award, this Michelin-starred restaurant has a beautiful, seasonal, menu inspired by the Cumbrian cuisine and local, fresh ingredients. The menu focusses on the circle of life and many ingredients are sourced from the grounds of Askham Hall, a family-owned working and living estate. It’s a unique place full of history in stunning surroundings. The grounds are currently open and plans are in place to open the rest of the estate as soon as possible.
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  • Chesters by the River, Ambleside If you’re looking for some fantastic food during the day in a beautiful setting right in the heart of the Lake District then Chesters is the place to be. It’s in Skelwith Bridge, near Ambleside and serves a vegetarian/vegan menu. It’s a relaxed setting and there’s plenty of outside seating so you can sit by the river and enjoy your food. They also do takeaway if you don’t have time to sit in. It has a modern, fresh and fun menu everyone can enjoy! (Currently closed during lockdown.)
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  • Joey’s Cafe, Kendal Joey’s has stayed open during lockdown doing a variety of amazing things to keep the south Lake District fed, including ‘Joey’s on the Road’, providing delicious meals for four to be cooked at home. Joey and his team have worked hard to stay open for takeaway under current guidelines, and have been running a pay it forward scheme for NHS workers to feed them and their families for free.
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  • The Yan at Broadrayne A beautiful bistro near Grasmere with seven bedrooms, it’s taking bookings from 4th July. During lockdown, the chef has been creating amazing takeaway hot food and meals to cook at home. Favourites have included sharing platters of smoked duck leg, beef brisket and burgers, so locals could still have the eating out experience at home. This is family fun and DELICIOUS!

East London

Palaette London breakfast

Innovative and ever-changing, the food scene in east London is a vibrant mix of trend-led craziness, classics with a modern twist and global flavours. Constantly evolving, Hackney, Shoreditch and Stratford offer some of the capital’s best food, by a mile. 

 

And during lockdown these places have been quick to adapt, offering takeaways, cook at home meals and make your own kits. We quizzed Lindsey, our Girl About London, for her faves. Most of these places are open during lockdown, and if their adaptability is anything to go by, they’ll also be around for long into the future too. 

  • The Barge House A canal-side institution in Haggerston, The Barge House has delighted its fans by now offering its ‘Breakfast en Bread’ dishes delivered to your door, nationwide. Vacuum-packed and ready to bake, choose from the original, the smoked salmon, the vegetarian or the vegan. The Barge House promises normal service will return sooner rather than later.
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  • Pidgin A highly acclaimed small restaurant in Hackney, it serves a weekly changing set menu of modern European food. During lockdown, it’s launched Homing Pidgin (see what they did there?) and is serving a scaled-back three-course meal to cook at home with matching wines available.
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  • Palaette London Stunning decor and beautifully plated brunches are standard at Palaette, and the style is backed by some serious substance in the form of brilliant dishes given a Palaette twist, adding different flavours to the classics. During lockdown, it’s offering delivery and collection – more details are on its Instagram page @palaettelondon.
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  • Serata Hall Unassuming from the outside, Serata Hall is a visual treat inside, filled with palm trees, velvet sofas and a large winding sofas. With a menu filled with all-day carby dishes with a hint of Italian, it’s too easy to lose several hours here. Reopening soon, GirlAbout London will be front of the queue for its bottomless brunches.
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  • Mora, Leytonstone Authentic, romantic and personal, Mora nails the Italian spirit and buzz we love on holidays there. Family-run, it serves classics with a modern twist and more than a little influence from Sardinia. During lockdown, many of its dishes are available to takeaway. 

South Hams, Devon

Cove Vodka Hope Cove

An old favourite of mine, the southernmost corner of Devon is a bulging hamper of foodie treats, with a growing number of local producers creating delicious food and drink. The area is blessed with geographical good fortune – plenty of coastline for fresh fish, and plenty of farmland with a temperate climate for freshly grown fruit and veg. 

The area covers the pretty towns of Totnes, Kingsbridge, Dartmouth, Salcombe and Ivybridge, and is full of independent artisan traders – the region’s farmers markets are legendary and in normal times there’s a busy diary of food festivals.  

 

This is a mix of my favourite producers and restaurants in the area, but there’s many, many more:

  • Wild Artichokes Restaurants don’t get more modest than a small unit on a trading estate on the edge of Kingsbridge but step inside Wild Artichokes’ home and you’ll find an industrially chic intimate space with four long tables and an open-plan kitchen, and some of the most delicious and surprising food going. Run by chef Jane Baxter (ex River Cafe and Riverford) and front of house supremo Sam Miller, the pair host regular supper parties and pop-up events based on an ever-changing sharing feasting menu featuring around six different dishes for each of the three courses. 

During lockdown, they’ve launched a takeaway cook-at-home service featuring such treats as Korean short ribs with vegetables, twice-baked crab souffle with mushrooms and ginger, and lamb with fennel, spinach and potato. With every mouthful, you can taste the love and passion that are poured into these dishes.

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  • Gara Rock A striking hotel and restaurant on a remote headland on the other side of the estuary to Salcombe, Gara Rock is worth the journey. The glass-fronted restaurant has views out to sea and the food served reflects its location – lots of fresh fish, beautifully cooked.
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  • The Beach House, South Milton A simple beach hut on the seafront overlooking South Milton beach and Thurlestone Rock, the Beach House is super laid back but reliably good. The menu is mainly seafood and freshly caught fish – it’s the perfect spot for a glass of chilled white wine and a pint of prawns, followed by Salcombe Dairy ice cream. During lockdown, it’s open every day for takeaway hot food and drinks.
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  • Cove vodka A relatively new addition to the local producers’ scene, Cove Vodka is made from King Edwards potatoes grown on a family farm overlooking Hope Cove. The potatoes are added to Devon spring water and distilled in small batches in traditional copper pots, making for an exceptionally smooth drink. It’s great served simply with chilled soda water, a squeeze of fresh lime and ice.
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  • Salcombe Gin A clear, crisp gin, it’s a dead cert for a G&T sundowner or two. During lockdown, the team has launched a virtual home-gin-school, created a crowdsourced gin called ‘Nightingale’ with all proceeds from sales donated to NHS charities (now sold out), and are due shortly to launch a new luxury hand sanitiser with all proceeds going to ShelterBox.
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