Great chow destinations OUTSIDE London?
In the early stages of planning a trip in the English countryside next April and chow is a determining factor. Any thoughts? Bonus points if in/near a cathedral town. No part of England is out of the question at this stage. TIA.
Winchester is a very pretty cathedral city and has a fabulous farmers' market on some Sundays. It also has some nice places to eat - the Wykeham Arms is a local gem, Hotel du Vin (haven't been to that one personally but it's supposed to be good). There are lots of cute shops too.
I am slightly biased though because it's where I grew up...!
Bristol (near Bath) is a centre for 'green' (ie organic) food in England. Lots of great restaurants, and slightly off the main tourist routes.
I'm completely biased though, as Ilive in Bristol!
(and there is a cathedral, and has a local airport with cheap flights to Ireland and Scotland)
The Lake District would be my absolute top foodie location. Lots of good restaurants. Lots of good hotels (with good restaurants). Lots of good pubs (with good restaurants). And, of course, "countryside" like nowhere else in Britain.
And, assuming you stay in the southern part of the The Lakes, you are very close to Lancaster (county town of Lancashire) with its cathedral.
re: Brit on a Trip
I would agree with the recommendation for the Lake District. Very good pubs with excellent food (often in portions designed for hill walkers) and a selection of good restaurants (approx. 4 Michelin 1 star restaurants). The scenery is fantastic.
Ludlow is considered the "foodie" capital of England so a good selection of restaurants. I haven't been but it is closer to London than the Lake District.
Another area to consider is Devon/Cornwall (again a long trip), the "West Country" has beautiful scenery, some great old country houses - check out "The National Trust" web-site. The food scene is also very good with some great chefs - at the top end Michael Caines at Gidleigh Park runs a renowned hotel and restaurant, plus there are lots of pubs that do local food especially seafood from the Devon/Cornwall coast. You can even venture to Padstow (home of Rick Stein) - personally I think he is a bit overrated but I have had a good meal at his bistro (he has approx. 5 restaurants in town) and the town and coast are very pretty. Also just down the coast is Jamie Oliver's beach restaurant "Fifteen" (just north of Newquay), so you can experience two TV chefs in quick succession..
I love Brighton and it is good for food (esp young and fashionable), I live near Bristol and it is good. But both are quite large cities and thus you don't really experience the countryside.
I'm partial to Brighton and the Sussex coast. Brighton has a very good food scene, partially since it is a getaway destination for Londoners from the hustle and bustle of the city. I don't think there was anything I was craving that I couldn't find a decent restaurant for in Brighton. It's also a good destination if you like seafood.
If the weather is pleasant this coming April, then I strongly suggest making a visit. Aside from the food, it's got a nice, pebbly beach, the Royal Pavillion, lots of interesting small shops in the Lanes, and is also very close to the English countryside and the Downs. If you plan to visit, base yourself in Brighton and take the trains out to Lewes (sleepy medieval town with Harveys, an excellent local brewery), Arundel (home to the Duke of Norfolk, his castle, and Arundel Cathedral), Chichester (Chichester cathedral), and other points of interest which escape me now.
Tewkesbury has a beautiful abbey (you can stay in the gatehouse, courtesy of the Landmark Trust) and is a very pretty small town, though it was badly affected by the floods this year. It is quite close to Cheltenham, where you can eat superbly at Le Champignon Sauvage. Good walking in the Malvern Hills too.
And check out Canterbury - I have read good reports of a restaurant focusing on foraged food.