Features

Outdoor dining: your guide to eating alfresco

20 Stories, Manchester

With hospitality businesses in England set to welcome diners to their gardens and terraces from 12 April, we take a look at some of the best spots for an alfresco meal. Ok, so the great British weather might not lend itself to long, lazy lunches at this time of year, but restaurateurs have risen to the challenge, putting up awnings, domes and all manner of heated shelters to guard against the spring chill. Thick socks recommended.


LONDON, CENTRAL

Fallow, Mayfair
Heddon Street, the pedestrianised foodie enclave off Regent Street, has been bolstered by awnings and greenery to create a buoyant al fresco dining scene. Leading by example is the terrace fronting Jack Croft and Will Murray’s simple and sustainable restaurant (reopening in May for indoor dining) where you can expect ingredient-led dishes championing big flavours, perhaps torched mackerel with coco beans and burnt tomato-vine dressing. Terrace opens 12 April. 

Fallow, credit: Goya Photography

 

Little Social, Mayfair
Sitting almost opposite Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social flagship, this informal all-day bistro from the same stable offers seating for 40 under awning and parasols in this newly pedestrianised back lane. With chef Frankie Van Loo at the helm, the seasonal menu offers a British flavour with French undertones (Lake District ribeye au poivre with frites, par example), and there’s an excellent value set lunch. Opens 13 April.

Lurra, Marylebone
With overseas travel off the cards for a while yet, why not be transported to the Basque region via the medium of its cooking? This is the place to come for tapas and well-chilled Txakoli or Rubia Gallega ribeye. Road closures make the handful of pavement tables a pleasant option but it’s the pretty courtyard with its festoon lighting that will win you over if you can nab a booking. Opens 12 April. 


LONDON, EAST

Allegra, Stratford
It’s worth knowing about the seventh floor Sky Terrace of the sleek Stratford Hotel close to Stratford International. From 14 April to 16 May, the elegant, element-proof space, part of ex-Chiltern Firehouse chef Patrick Powell’s restaurant, Allegra, will be the place to go for oysters, burgers – including fried fish and chicken versions – and rhubarb and custard doughnuts. Look out, too, for Sunday residencies from London restaurants not blessed with outside space.

Allegra

 

Smokestak, Shoreditch
A custom-built US smoker is the source of much of the output of David Carter’s popular barbecue restaurant. From 12 April, diners can feast on the likes of charred pork belly, beef brisket and lamb merguez under a bespoke pavement-side canopy that suits the post-industrial vibe. If you don’t manage to reserve a table, some are held back for walk-ins and you can even order from the full menu to enjoy at home or in a nearby park. 


LONDON, NORTH

Parrillan, King’s Cross
Who doesn’t love a tabletop grill? Regular queues are testimony to the success and pulling power of this Barrafina offshoot, where cooking your own food on a mini charcoal grill – the parrillan – is the draw. Order plates of exquisite prawns, cuttlefish, lamb or Iberian pork, or have the kitchen deliver ham croquettes, arroz negro and the like. The large covered and heated terrace on the upper tier of Coal Drops Yard is perfect for the temperamental spring weather. Opens 12 April.

Parrillan, credit: Greg Funnell



LONDON, SOUTH

Kudu, Peckham
With its candlelit lanterns and abundant foliage, the rear garden of this bijou eatery yards from Queen’s Road station is a beautifully secluded spot in which to enjoy small plates that combine modern European dishes with South African flavours. Miss the signature Kudu bread with melted Cape Malay bacon butter at your peril. There’s a clutch of pavement tables out front but our money’s on the backyard. 

Kudu



LONDON, WEST

Bibendum Oyster Bar, South Kensington 
Claude Bosi’s second venture, set in the gloriously tiled Art Deco foyer below his main venture, is worth booking even on the most unpredictable of April days, thanks to a solid roof, heaters, blankets, and impeccable service. Fish and shellfish are menu highlights, especially classics such as bounteous seafood platters, Cornish crab quiche, and fish and chips, but there’s also excellent côte de boeuf with sauce au poivre to share, and the option of takeaway, too. Open at noon daily from 12 April.

River Café, Hammersmith
The 100-seat Thames-side terrace of this famed Italian ‘canteen’ is hard to beat on a sunny spring day. Diligent sourcing and robust flavours provide the backbone of a menu of seasonal salads, silky homemade pastas and wood-roasted specialities of, say, whole Cornish monkfish or thick-cut veal chop with a punchy salsa verde. Opens 12 April. 


BERKSHIRE

The Vineyard, Newbury
Some restaurants make you happy as soon as you step over the threshold. Such is the case here, where the Vineyard team has created OutSide, based in an elegant Raj-style circular tent in the hotel’s garden. In this comfortable, weatherproof space, chef Tom Scade offers a simple, seasonal menu to complement the setting, with small plates showcasing the likes of asparagus and Pecorino alongside larger dishes, such as rib of beef with chimichurri to share. Opens 12 April.

The Vineyard

 

CORNWALL

Hotel Tresanton, St Mawes
Olga Polizzi’s seaside bolthole cuts a real dash with its fabulous Fal estuary-facing location and gorgeous terraces. Blankets and umbrellas are on hand to combat the unpredictable spring weather, and the menu borrows greedily from sea and land, steering a seasonal, local and classical course with minimal fuss. As a great place to recharge batteries running low from lockdown, it’s a winner. Open daily for lunch from 12 April.


DORSET

The Ollerod, Beaminster
Overlooking a lovely walled garden, the covered and heated terrace is a distinct plus for Chris Staines’ loyal supporters as they wait for his restaurant to reopen in May. It’s the perfect spot to reconnect with some sure-footed food, perhaps chilled almond and garlic soup, or roast loin of pork with garden pea risotto. Open Wednesday to Sunday from noon starting 14 April. 

The Ollerod

 


HAMPSHIRE

The Greyhound on the Test, Stockbridge
Diners can book a table in the courtyard garden of this beloved high-street inn which will open seven days a week (12 noon to 8.30pm) from 12 April. Explore Phill Bishop’s seasonal and local menu from the comfort of the heated canopy. Drinkers are welcome in the beer garden which stretches down to the river Test. Order a charcuterie board from the outdoor bar and, if April showers threaten, retreat to the timber-framed dome.  

 

The Greyhound on the Test
The Greyhound on the Test



GREATER MANCHESTER

20 Stories, Manchester
As the city below readies itself to open up again, there’s nothing like Manchester’s swaggering restaurant in the sky to celebrate those first tentative steps back to normality. The view from the expansive rooftop terrace is certainly impressive. There’s no need to book if you only plan to drink, but it’s essential if you want to tuck into seafood and charcuterie platters, chargrilled steaks or lobster. Garden terrace opens 12 April.
 

SOMERSET

Lord Poulett Arms, Hinton St George
The pretty courtyard garden of this atmospheric inn, complete with purpose-built marquee, will provide the setting for all-day dining from 16 April. Expect a menu chock-full of pub classics including cider-battered fish and chips, burgers and Sunday roasts showcasing meat from local farms. Tables can be booked for Friday, Saturday or Sunday.  


YORKSHIRE

Grantley Hall, Ripon
This grand 17th-century pile with beyond perfect grounds makes the ideal place to kick start eating outside. Fully sheltered tables are available at two impressive outdoor terraces: the open-all-week Norton Courtyard, which keeps things British with fish and chips or Josper-grilled beef fillet; and the EightyEight Terrace which introduces a far Eastern flavour, perhaps with miso-glazed sea trout for lunch (Friday to Saturday) or dinner (Wednesday to Sunday). In May, Shaun Rankin’s residency will once again set the pace in the ineffably elegant dining room. Terraces open from 12 April. 

The Star, Harome
Andrew Pern’s celebrated 14th-century part-thatched village inn is one of the region’s glories. Local buying buttresses the ‘modern Yorkshire’ menu as do seasonal vegetables and homegrown herbs. When the sun is shining, there’s nothing like a meal in the 60-seater garden to induce a feeling of relaxed contentment, but do watch that fickle April weather – tables are open to the elements. Garden open from 12 April.

The Star Inn