Wales’ Ynyshir has been named the best restaurant in the UK for the second year in a row at The Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards 2023, while the London restaurant boom prevails.
The restaurant with rooms on the west coast of Wales is overseen by chef-patron Gareth Ward, whose bold and uncompromising approach continues to challenge the UK’s fine dining scene with a singular Japanese-influenced tasting menu of numerous small courses.
Located in a traditional country house hotel that has since been painted black, Ynyshir provides a culinary experience like no other, combining a thumping soundtrack with a succession of tiny plates, cooked over fire and served directly by the chefs to the diners’ tables.
“Gareth Ward’s singular vision for what a restaurant can be, and his willingness to break down boundaries, are to be applauded. He leads by example by never missing a service, and he and his team are very worthy winners of this title again.”
As in 2022, second place goes to Moor Hall in Lancashire, while third place is awarded to Da Terra in east London, with a climb of eighteen places.
This year’s list shows the return of the capital’s dominance in the restaurant scene, with a total of 54 restaurants from London in the top 100 list and only three in the top 10 located outside of London.
The highest new entry at number five and winner of the Opening of the Year award, sponsored by Tripleseat, goes to Henry Harris’ Bouchon Racine. In contrast to this year’s winner, Bouchon Racine celebrates classic French cuisine in a small dining room above a historic pub in Farringdon, London. A stalwart of the London dining scene for more than 30 years, Harris worked as executive chef at Harvey Nichols’ Fifth Floor Restaurant before opening his first solo venture, Racine, in 2002.
The Ledbury takes home the Service Award, sponsored by Liberty Wines and Rathfinny Wine Estate, while the restaurant’s 29-year-old sous chef April Lily Partridge has been named this year’s Chef to Watch, sponsored by Belazu Ingredient Co.
The Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Nespresso, goes to Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver of London’s St John. Since the opening of their ground-breaking Smithfield restaurant in 1994, Henderson and Gulliver have been recognised as pioneers of nose-to-tail cooking, with the restaurant becoming one of the most influential internationally in terms of cuisine, design and philosophy. Expanding on the success of their flagship, the pair have launched St John Bread and Wine in Spitalfields and St John Marylebone, as well as a bakery, a winery and their own label wine.
“Fergus and Trevor could have won this lifetime achievement award years ago, but the indefatigable pair continue to make their mark on Britain’s – and the world’s – dining scene. In 1994 when they launched St John, British food was still largely maligned by the rest of the world and serious restaurants tended to follow a very traditional dining model. St John changed all that,” adds Chomka.
The Sustainability Award goes to Pensons, which was recognised for its creation of an on-site laundry powered by solar panel and using collected rainwater, leading to a huge reduction in energy use and water consumption.
“Not only does the development of an on-site laundry have significant environmental benefits – that Pensons have measured and quantified – but it shines a light on the growing issue of water scarcity and has even created a new employment opportunity. This initiative demonstrates the importance of taking a holistic and creative approach to sustainability to find solutions that work for your business. Congratulations to Pensons on winning this year’s Sustainability Award,” says Juliane Caillouette Noble, managing director at The Sustainable Restaurant Association.
The winners were announced on Monday 12th June at a ceremony held at The Hurlingham Club in London by Restaurant.
The Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards is Restaurant’s annual countdown of the top 100 restaurants in the UK as voted for by the UK’s leading chefs, restaurateurs and food writers.
Estrella Damm’s long-standing support of gastronomy and the wider hospitality industry is underpinned by a high quality, sustainable, and natural approach to its own brewing process – using only 100% natural and locally sourced ingredients and partnering with only local Mediterranean farmers. Estrella Damm takes inspiration from its collaborative production process to partner with the most exceptional and innovative chefs, restaurants, and gastropubs to raise the profile of quality beer and food pairing in the UK.
James Healey, UK Head of On-Trade for Estrella Damm, ’the beer of Barcelona’, says: “Estrella Damm has always been proud to support the National Restaurant Awards and each year we are amazed at the array of incredible talent, who are all fully deserving of this recognition of being the very best in the UK. We are honoured to share our passion for brewing with the best restaurants in the UK, who also clearly share our devotion to quality and taste in all that they do. We hope this list encourages everyone to get out and support each and every one of these restaurants and join us in celebrating the success of the industry.”
The Full List of Awards:
- Estrella Damm National Restaurant of the Year: Ynyshir
- Best Restaurant in England: Moor Hall
- Best Restaurant in Northern Ireland: Ox
- Best Restaurant in Wales: Ynyshir
- Best Restaurant in Scotland: The Glenturret Lalique Restaurant
- Chef of the Year: Kenny Atkinson
- Restaurateur of the Year, sponsored by Entegra: Samyukta Nair
- Chef to Watch, sponsored by Belazu Ingredient Co: April Lily Partridge
- Opening of the Year, sponsored by Tripleseat: Bouchon Racine
- One to Watch, sponsored by Woods Foodservice: The Midland Grand Dining Room
- The Sustainability Award, sponsored by Estrella Damm: Pensons
- Gastropub of the Year, sponsored by Estrella Damm: Parkers Arms
- The Service Award, sponsored by Liberty Wines and Rathfinny Wine Estate: The Ledbury
- Wine List of the Year: Maison Francois
- Cocktail List of the Year, sponsored by Franklin & Sons: Roots
- Innovator of the Year, sponsored by Sevenrooms: Apricity
- Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Nespresso: Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver