10 countryside restaurants (with tables available) for a marvellous day trip

Daniel and Natasha Smith took over this Kent country pub in 2017 and won a Michelin star within the year. Some may say it’s strictly for the DFLs (down from London) but ex-Clove Club chef Daniel’s ambitious tasting menus, with wines from the impressive cellar, have inarguably put Fordwich, Britain’s smallest town, on the gastronomic map.

The idyllic setting by the River Stour simply cries out for a bottle of Gusbourne rosé (the vineyard’s not 30 miles away) and an exploration of the best the Garden of England has to offer. Duck liver parfait with rhubarb and warm doughnuts, applewood-grilled Monkfish with charred cucumber and vin jaune sauce, and tiramisu and brandy ice cream are all Fordwich classics.

Booking recommendations:  With tables available from the beginning of June onwards, the pub is accepting indoor bookings for the coming months.  Outdoor tables are allocated on the day and walk-ins are welcomed with some availability. You’re more likely to get a spot during the week, as weekends tend to be busy.

King Street, Fordwich, Kent, CT2 0DB; fordwicharms.co.uk

The Astor Grill at Cliveden House

Cliveden’s been getting ready for a spectacular season – the lawns freshly manicured, the river banks verdant, and the topiary fresh from a lockdown trim cruelly denied to the rest of us. The grand reopening begins on the courtyard of the Astor Grill, the hotel’s classic Anglo-American grill restaurant, housed in the grand pile’s former stables.

The menu is an absolute tonic after a year of home food. This is far more choice than we’re used to, with superfood salads, salmon carpaccio and miso-glazed pumpkin and Asian slaw up competing for attention with outrageous blue cheese burgers, chipotle chicken tacos and sticky date pudding. Grab coffee from the tuk-tuk, and take a turn through the 376-acre National Trust estate. Reservations recommended; some walk-in availability.

Booking recommendations:  The restaurant re-opens on May 17, with some availability in the coming months for pre-booked tables only. 

Cliveden House, Taplow, Berkshire, SL6 0JF; clivedenhouse.co.uk

The Swan Inn

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