There were one or two surprises this year

The eleventh annual 'Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards' were held this week with a shindig at London’s Hurlingham Club.

The National Restaurant Awards - voted for by a panel of judges including industry experts, chefs, restaurateurs and food writers - is generally recognised as being the largest annual gathering of chefs and restaurateurs in the UK.

Unsurprisingly, 53 out of 100 of the top 100 are based in London, with a very decent 9% of the top restaurants hailing from the North West.

The best UK restaurant 2018 was Kiln, an affordable 50-cover Thai restaurant in London’s Brewer Street. Last year’s number one venue, The Sportsman, a seaside pub in Seasalter, Kent (which had also topped the list the year before that) came ninth. Mayfair’s newly opened Spanish restaurant, Sabor was number two, while Michelin starred Chinese restaurant, A Wong placed third.

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Chef Mark Birchall outside Moor Hall, which ranked at number 6

The highest-ranking North West establishment this year was Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume in Cartmel, Cumbria, which ranked fifth - an improvement on last year’s rank of seventeenth. L’Enclume also holds two Michelin stars, five AA Rosettes and is ranked at number two in The Good Food Guide’s top 50 best UK restaurants with a maximum score of 10/10.

Moor Hall in Aughton, Lancashire, run by chef patron Mark Birchill, who was Rogan’s head chef at L’Enclume for over a decade, was hot on his former boss’s heels at number six – a massive leap from last years position at number 70.

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Gary Usher and the Wreckfish team

Predictably, a number of golden boy Gary Usher’s restaurants made the list with Liverpool’s Wreckfish placing a surprising 19th - meaning the crowdfunded Slater Street bistro ranked above esteemed establishments such as Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir (25) and Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck (32). Meanhwile, Usher's Manchester restaurant, Hispi, placed at number 47 (above last year’s rank of 54).

Stockport’s Where The Light Gets In, which did not make last year’s list, despite a smattering of positive reviews from national critics, made a respectable 80th place this year. Chef owner Samuel Buckley had been recognised with a 'one to watch' award in 2017.

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The Freemasons at Wiswell scored an impressive 18th place

Other North West restaurants on the list include the Freemasons at Wiswell, which made a huge leap to 18th place after placing 77th last year; popular Clitheroe pub and restaurant the Parkers Arms, which placed 76th; Fraiche on the Wirral at 83rd, and Lancashire’s Michelin-starred Northcote at 97th.

A special OpenTable Diners Choice award was awarded to The Chef's Table restaurant in Chester.

The full top 100 UK restaurants 2018 (North West restaurants are highlighted):

  1. Kiln, Soho
  2. Sabor, Mayfair
  3. A Wong, Victoria
  4. Core by Clare Smyth, Notting Hill
  5. L’Enclume, Cumbria 
  6. Moor Hall, Lancashire
  7. Lyle’s, Shoreditch
  8. Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottingham
  9. The Sportsman, Kent
  10. Nathan Outlaw, Cornwall
  11. Claude Bosi at Bibendum, Chelsea
  12. The Coach, Marlow
  13. Coombeshead Farm, Cornwall 
  14. Brat, Shoreditch
  15. Padella, London Bridge 
  16. The Quality Chop House, Clerkenwell 
  17. The Ledbury, Notting Hill
  18. Freemasons at Wiswell, Lancashire 
  19. Wreckfish, Liverpool 
  20. The Black Swan at Oldstead 
  21. The River Café, Hammersmith 
  22. Indian Accent, Mayfair 
  23. Paul Ainsworth at No 6, Padstow 
  24. El Pastor, London Bridge 
  25. Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Oxford
  26. Ondine, Edinburgh 
  27. Casamia, Bristol
  28. Ynyshir, Powys
  29. Som Saa, Shoreditch 
  30. House of Tides, Newcastle 
  31. The Clove Club, Shoreditch 
  32. The Fat Duck, Bray 
  33. Chez Bruce, Wandsworth 
  34. Elystan Street, Chelsea
  35. The Crown at Burchetts Green, Maidenhead
  36. Trinity, Clapham 
  37. The Little Fish Market, Hove 
  38. The Walnut Tree, Abergavenny 
  39. Quo Vadis, Soho 
  40. The Seahorse, Dartmouth 
  41. Barrafina, Covent Garden
  42. Lorne, Victoria 
  43. The Waterside Inn, Bray 
  44. Brawn, Bethnal Green
  45. The Raby Hunt, Darlington 
  46. Hispi, Didsbury 
  47. Hoppers, Soho 
  48. Midsummer House, Cambridge 
  49. Noble Rot, Bloomsbury 
  50. Gymkhana, Mayfair 
  51. Nuala, Old Street 
  52. Hedone, Chiswick 
  53. Alchemilla, Nottingham 
  54. Kricket, Soho 
  55. Pollen St Social, Mayfair
  56. Tyddyn Llan, Llandrillo 
  57. Root, Bristol 
  58. St John Bread & Wine, Shoreditch 
  59. The Star Inn Harome, Yorkshire 
  60. Farang, Highbury 
  61. Holborn Dining Room, Holborn 
  62. The Hand & Flowers, Marlow 
  63. Wilson's, Bristol 
  64. 40 Maltby Street, London Bridge 
  65. Black Axe Mangal, Islington 
  66. Carter’s of Moseley, Birmingham
  67. The Palomar, Soho
  68. Smoking Goat, Shoreditch 
  69. The Beehive, Berkshire 
  70. The Hardwick, Abergavenny 
  71. Timberyard, Edinburgh 
  72. Xu, Chinatown
  73. The Dairy, Clapham 
  74. Le Gavroche, Mayfair 
  75. Paco Tapas, Bristol 
  76. The Parkers Arms, Clitheroe
  77. Rambla, Soho 
  78. Wine & Brine, County Armagh 
  79. Frog by Adam Handling, Covent Garden 
  80. Where The Light Gets In, Stockport 
  81. Bonhams, Mayfair 
  82. Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, Edinburgh 
  83. Fraiche, Oxton 
  84. Restaurant Story, London Bridge 
  85. Sardine, Hoxton 
  86. The Ritz, Picadilly 
  87. Kitchen Table, Fitzrovia 
  88. Inver, Argyll & Bute 
  89. Lima, Fitzrovia 
  90. The Fordwich Arms, Canterbury 
  91. Frenchie, Covent Garden 
  92. The Elephant, Torquay 
  93. Barbary, Covent Garden
  94. Neo Bistro, Mayfair 
  95. Mark Greenaway, Edinburgh 
  96. Morston Hall Hotel, Norfolk 
  97. Northcote Manor, Langho 
  98. Westerns Laundry, Highbury 
  99. Perilla, Newington Green
  100. Ikoyi, Piccadilly