UK Food and Drink Guide

There are a multitude of options for dining in the UK and in terms of diversity there are few countries in the world that can match the range on offer, if you're seeking traditional British fares or international cuisine you're sure to find something to suit your palette.

Breakfast

Breakfast is often lauded as the most important meal of the day, whether this is true or not is open to debate but what cannot be questioned is the simple beauty of a full English breakfast (there are Scottish and Irish variations too). A typical English breakfast will include sausage, bacon, beans, mushrooms, baked beans, fried egg, toast and tomatoes, with hash browns and black pudding also likely to be involved. It sounds like a lot, and perhaps it is, but it is an excellent way to start the day - just not every day.

If that sounds like a bit too much most establishments will serve lighter options; such as omelettes or scrambled eggs on toast, bacon and sausage sandwiches or even simply fruits and cereals.

A good pot of English tea will accompany any of these breakfasts, actually a pot of tea is generally considered a welcome addition to almost any occasion on the British Isles. If coffee is more your thing that won't be a problem either as you won't struggle to find a great coffee shop in most areas with a good mix of independent and chain/franchise outlets.

Eating on the go

Street food has become increasingly fashionable in recent years in the UK and this opens up a whole new world of possibilities for the discerning diner. Typically vendors will be located in one location in a city centre, such as large indoor shopping centres, but in many cities there will be burrito bars, Thai and other oriental outlets and sushi bars dotted around the main shopping and eating areas. In smaller towns and villages this isn't the case, but you're sure to find somewhere to grab a quick snack in the more touristy areas.

If you're thinking about a more substantial mid-day meal why not try a traditional pub lunch, all towns and villages that are known for their tourism will have at least one pub that will also operate as a full restaurant. Cities will have them too, but you may have to look a bit harder to find them.

If you're tucking into a ploughman's lunch, scampi and chips or steak and kidney pie a pint of real ale will undoubtedly be the perfect accompaniment. Traditional brewing is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance at the moment and as such many pubs will have beers, ales and lagers that are unique to the area with a huge variety of flavours and styles (and strengths so be careful!).

The main event

Evening meals can be difficult when on holiday and this can be the case in the UK too, although in Britain's case the reason it can be difficult is the sheer number of options on offer. In any given town or city there could be any number of international cuisines available - particularly in areas that attract a lot of visitors.

The UK has a rich history of immigration and with every culture comes a new cuisine. Chinese food and Indian food have long been staples of the British diet and some dishes may even have origins in the UK, for example Balti dishes and tikka massala are believed to have been invented in Britain rather than the Indian sub-continent.

It is worth reading reviews and finding a few potential locations prior to your visit to any given city or town to ensure you have the best possible eating experience but in many cases if it looks good it probably is. Restaurants that don't quite hit the mark in terms of quality, service and value for money often struggle and if you walk past a packed Italian/Indian/Chinese etc you can be sure the food is good.

Most restaurants will have an extensive wine menu, with a few beers and ciders on offer too. Some smaller, independent places will allow customers to bring their own alcohol (this is quite common on London's Brick Lane and Rusholm in Manchester, amongst others) but it is advisable to check beforehand and this will likely include a small ‘corkage' fee.

The arrival of all these foreign influences has had an incredibly positive effect on British cuisine and there are some innovative establishments and chefs who are really pushing the boundaries of more traditional concepts. Think pork and apple with a difference, perhaps even a pig's trotter with a cinnamon infused apple sauce, or rather than battered fish and chips a fillet of sea bass with vegetable chips and minted mushy peas, grilled calves liver with lentils and chard, braised ox cheek with a carrot puree... These kinds of options are usually for those with a higher budget and if you're thinking of treating yourself to some haute cuisine it is well worth doing a bit of research beforehand to make sure you're going to the right place - most restaurants will post a menu online so you can have a quick look through before visiting.