What the experts recommend
Wreckfish Slater Street, Liverpool (0151-707 1960) Chef Gary Usher’s elegant, comfortable and friendly new restaurant in Liverpool is (according to the well-supported Kickstarter campaign that funded it) named after a species of fish that dwells on the ocean floor. To judge from the superb and astonishingly good-value meal we enjoyed there, says Felicity Cloake in The Guardian, this particular specimen won’t be “lurking in the briny deep for long”. Our pork cutlet was so good I asked the waitress to find out from the kitchen how they got it so juicy and soft (using brine and steam, apparently). Turnip cakes (one of four vegetarian options) had a light, clean and attractive bitterness that really sang when combined with the punchy pomegranate molasses dressing on the accompanying beetroot and leaves. And warm marmalade sponge was a “very fine thing indeed” – its open, almost suety crumb drenched in “gloriously bittersweet” orange syrup. Set lunch, £20; dinner about £35 a head. Partick Duck Club 27 Hyndland Street, Mansfield Park, Glasgow (0141-334 9909) Every year Glasgow’s best chefs brace themselves “for another deafie from those know-nothing basturts at Michelin”, says Marina O’loughlin in The Sunday Times. But the city’s lack of starred restaurants is fine by me. When eating out in my beloved home town, I stick to the Kiss principle: keep it simple, stupid. “Not a dumbing-down, but the good stuff, done well, with a healthy avoidance of foams and deconstructions.” Step forward, Partick Duck Club, where “everything that arrives is just what you hope it’ll be”. Sparky, satisfying cauliflower comes burnished to a crisp bronze, perched on tahini yoghurt and scattered with pomegranate. Toasted sourdough is topped with torched Highland Brie and drizzled with truffle honey. “Cheese on toast as a starter? I’m so in.” Fish pie is “fantastically soothing”. Confit leg of duck with chilli and pineapple relish is “all kinds of great”, and comes with perfect duck-fatsavoury chips. It’s great value, and the service is heart-warmingly friendly.
Large meal for two, with wine, £94.
Tap and Kitchen Oundle Wharf, Station Road, Oundle, Northamptonshire (01832-275069) This pleasant riverside pub-restaurant in pretty Oundle is welcoming without being exactly characterful, and serves food that is consistently decent without being show-stopping, says Keith Miller in The Daily Telegraph. If that sounds like damning with faint praise, it isn’t meant to. Tap and Kitchen’s model – taking good local ingredients and preparing them well, with “the odd fashionable flourish” – is commendable. And it knocks “into a cocked hat” the “endless cavalcade” of middling chains that dominate Britain’s townscapes. Hanger steak was well rested, tender and nicely seasoned, and served with watercress, a pot of minty-sweet “house chimichurri” and decent chips. There was an “intelligently chosen” wine list. And puddings were “grown-up takes on wellworn crowd-pleasers” – such as lemon posset with meringue, Chantilly and lemon marmalade. Give me more like this place, please. Lunch for two, £80.
Wreckfish: astonishingly good value