Eating & Drinking inNorth West

The North West region embraces the entire diversity of restaurant settings, from the urban entrepots of Manchester and Liverpool, through the rolling reaches of rural Lancashire and Cheshire, up to everybody's favourite national park in the Lake District.

Much of the action this year has been in Greater Manchester, with new entries all over the show, from Simon Martin's exuberantly creative, naturally inspired food at Mana in Manchester itself to the classic tapas of Salford's lively Porta.

A 17th-century timber-framed cottage in the Cheshire market town of Frodsham, once home to generations of a family butcher, now houses Next Door, where Richard Nuttall is cooking in imaginative modern style. There's plenty going on out in the Lancashire villages too, with venues like The White Swan at Fence, Wiswell's Freemasons and Hipping Hall at Cowan Bridge setting the pace, and Mark Birchall's transcendent cooking propelling Moor Hall at Aughton into the Top 10.

Cumbria continues to be a happy hunting-ground for wild and foraged food in offbeat settings, with Simon Rogan's L'Enclume still ruling the roost with our maximum rating and a return to the number one spot in our Top 50. James Hill has made the village of Houghton near Carlisle a destination for his endearingly homely Lounge on the Green.

Meanwhile, if the charm of lush countryside should fade momentarily, there's always the lure of a luxurious city-centre hotel. Adam Reid at The French in Manchester's Midland continues to raise the bar for exquisite cooking in a dazzling setting, while Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor brings old-school service to bear on an inventive menu.

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Cheshire * Cumbria * Greater Manchester * Lancashire * Merseyside

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