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William Sitwell, Telegraph restaurant critic, reveals his awards - based on establishments visited since January 2023.  Says William: 'It was a great year of dining, revealing not just the green shoots of recovery but the plants, if not tall oaks, of new restaurants. Of some 50 places I have reviewed only a small handful were given less than three, out of five, stars.  Please do make the effort to visit these places and remember that even some of the best UK restaurants are being forced to close so if you want an independent hospitality sector do your bit by eating out'. 

Best lamb dish
Lamb, yeasted cauliflower, black garlic, shallot

‘The greatest dish of the night arrived in the form of loin of lamb. Oh, dear sheep, your slaughter was worth it. It looked almost too rare, but I was wrong. Literally the greatest mouthful of lamb saddle I can remember tasting. Rich, earthy, melting and with crisp skin. Seriously, sheep farmers should stand outside Heaneys and applaud him for the honour he does to their produce. For that lamb Cardiff should give Tommy the keys to the city.’

6-10 Romilly Crescent, Pontcanna, Cardiff, CF11 9NR

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Best beef dish

35-day aged Hereford beef from Casey Fields Farm, chips and leaf salad, chimichurri

Bottle & Glass Inn

‘We then shared a magnificent côte de boeuf – Hereford reared on a farm near Reading. It arrived sliced, well-rested, perfectly cooked and pink within, on a wooden board groaning with salad, chips and chimichurri. The latter was especially impressive. Hand-chopped, not lazily blended, it was so lively and vigorous we called for more, then more of it.’

Bones Lane, Binfield Heath, Henley-on-Thames RG9 4JT

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Best duck dish
Confit Yorkshire duck, polenta, dehydrated tomatoes, cavolo nero

Lovage Jesmond

‘The leg sat on cavolo nero on a large, round dollop of polenta, on gravy. I cannot fathom any improvement to the dish. Rich duck, tempered by the tang of cabbage, soothed by the polenta, rounded and sweetened by gravy.’

115 St George’s Terrace, Jesmond, Newscastle, NE2 2DN

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Most original twist on a classic
Lancashire haggis toastie

'The toastie was a multitasking dish of multi-denomination. For it is breakfast, or lunch, or tea or dinner, or even a post-dinner savoury. It’s that clever.  A four-layered stack of roundels of bread (toasted and fried), egg and haggis – with parsley and chives on top – it is simply quite the most quirkily scrumptious thing I’ve eaten in ages.’

16 Rodney Street, Liverpool, L1 2TE

Röski Restaurant

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Best spicy main course

Cashew nut, pork crackling & dried fish

Speedboat Bar

‘The dried fish is inedible on its own but tempered by the oil and the moisture of some green leaves (coriander and Asian leaves from Luke Farrell’s Dorset garden), it’s a sort of culinary miracle.’

30 Rupert Street, London W1D 6DL

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Best salad
Hail Roger
Nip & Cluck

‘Nip & Cluck is is back from the harbour in Whitsable, off the high street, and occupies the kitchen and café area of a shared workspace on Albert Street called The Workers’ League. Chef Jim Thomlinson's version of a Caesar salad, the Hail Roger was epic. Seriously, reason alone for a trip to Whitstable.'

1 Albert Street, Whitstable, CT5 1HP

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Best New Indian

Empire Empire

‘Empire Empire is new to London's Notting hill and such is the fresh offering, the light touches of the kitchen, the lack of heaving sauce and the fragrancy of rice that made it one of the finest Indian meals I’ve eaten for ages.’

16 All Saints Road, London, W11 1HH

Empire Empire

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Best Indian dal

Tadka Yellow Lentils

Khai Khai

‘I crave soupy, yellow dal. It’s a dish I ate daily in my late teens when I worked in Delhi. And Khai Khai’s version is utterly perfect.’ 
29 Queen Street, Newcastle NE1 3UG

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Best plate of pasta
Hand-rolled pasta, Spenwood, aged Dexter beef ragu
Higher Ground

‘A magnificent plate of Dexter beef ragù, mixed with sliced courgette, tossed with Spenwood cheese. A marvellous, generous, umami-filled treat.’

New York Street, Manchester, M1 4DY

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Restaurant of the Year

Bouchon Racine

‘Henry Harris back doing what he does best. The chef/patron with a bustling gaff – a heaving pub downstairs and a gorgeous room above – he brings his two passions together and calls it Bouchon Racine. With a great-value wine list, good honest service and the bonhomie of Monsieur Harris, Bouchon Racine is the happy beating heart of grounded gastronomy. If you don't like it, you don't like food.’

66 Cowcross St, Farringdon, London, EC1M 6BP

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