Ten great restaurants in the East Midlands

A meal out should be a memorable experience. Below are ten restaurants that will do the job and then some…

Each of these restaurants serves excellent food, but each also provides a very different kind of experience. The George Hotel of Stamford and Falcon of Uppingham exude the pleasant feel of a classic English hotel. The King’s Arms at Wing, Staunton Arms and Three Hills at Bartlow offer a rustic gastropub experience. The stylish Hammer & Pincers, peerless Hambleton Hall (one Michelin Star) and unique House of Feasts showcase exquisite dining and artistic presentation. And The Hercules Revived and Don Paddy’s are laid-back and buzzy but offer a satisfying food and drink experience.

Over the years we’ve enjoyed many memorable dining experiences at these ten places. We hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

Hambleton Hall, near Oakham

A Michelin Star holder since 1982

Hambleton Hall is a stunner, both inside and out

With a spectacular location overlooking Rutland Water, this Victorian building was converted by proprietor Tim Hart into a hotel with 17 double bedrooms in 1979 – perfect for anyone thinking of staying in the Rutland area. The cooking at Hambleton Hall is incredibly accomplished. Inventive and technically perfect, eating here is a memorable experience. It has held a Michelin Star since 1982 – Britain’s longest-running Star holder, and in Aaron Patterson, they have one of Britain’s best chefs, not to mention a brilliant mentor for younger chefs. Hambleton Hall exudes old-school country house luxury and is a pleasure on all levels. Book on 01572 756991.

The Hammer & Pincers, Wymeswold

Stylish, accomplished cooking

Inside Leicestershire’s stylish Hammer & Pincers

The stylish Hammer & Pincers in Wymeswold, Leicestershire, narrowly finished runner-up in the Great Food Club Awards 2018/19. The cooking here is genuinely exceptional. Proprietors Danny and Sandra Jimminson trained at the Savoy under Anton Edelmann. The sourcing is conscientious, and the menus showcase “Local Food Heroes”, ranging from local allotment holders to Bradgate Park. Giles Coren, often a harsh restaurant critic, scored Hammer & Pincers 8.5 out of 10 when he dined here. A great way to sample the Hammer & Pincers’ accomplished, stylish cuisine is through their Saturday Night Grazing Menu, which is exceptional. Book on 01509 880735.

The Hercules Revived, Sutton Cheney

A top quality foodie pub

The Hercules Revived is a former coaching inn

The Hercules Revived (20% off the a la carte menu for GFC card holders) is a beautifully run former coaching inn located a stone’s throw from Bosworth Battlefield in north-west Leicestershire. This fantastic village pub is often buzzing, and that’s not surprising because the food and hospitality are excellent. There’s a great selection of casual, pubby food like pizzas cooked al fresco in wood-fired ovens and sublime burgers. But head chef Glynn Windross and his team also produce some excellent, creative dishes such as Portuguese Piri Piri spring lamb with mixed beans and crushed potatoes; and salmon & prawn tian with English asparagus and a lemon & chive dressing. The Hercules Revived is a top quality foodie pub. Book on 01455 699336.

The King’s Arms, Wing

Committed to local sourcing

If there’s a country pub more committed to local sourcing, we haven’t found it. The 17th century King’s Arms in Rutland has established strong relationships with all their local suppliers – including fishermen, hunters, brewers and foragers. The ingredients here are fresh and of excellent quality, and the cooking is skilled and intelligent while retaining a satisfying rustic charm. Yes, there are rich sauces, jus and unusual flavours to enjoy here but don’t expect tiny, delicate mouthfuls. This is generous, delicious pub food – locally sourced and cooked to be heartily enjoyed rather than picked over. It has rooms too, so why not treat yourself to a lovely Rutland mini-break? The King’s Arms runs a brilliant dinner, bed and breakfast offer for Great Food Club Premium Members, allowing you to save more than £30 on the standard price. Book on 01572 737634.

The Staunton Arms, Staunton in the Vale

A fantastic gastropub experience

The leisurely and welcoming Staunton Arms in Staunton in the Vale, Nottinghamshire, is set in rolling countryside and provides a fantastic gastropub experience. The menu is original and varied, listing smaller snacks, light lunches and a full a la carte section. Example dishes include traditional pub classics such as Staunton Arms beef & ale pie with mash, and ale-battered haddock and chips, plus more imaginative dishes such pan-fried duck breast with a thyme terrine and butternut squash arancini. All the food is freshly prepared, and there’s a good range of carefully chosen cask ales and wines to go with it. The Grade II-listed building is 200 years old and has eight bedrooms, and there’s also a self-catering cottage nearby, making it an excellent base from which to explore the Vale of Belvoir. If the sun’s shining, the heated patio seats up to 48 people. Book on 01400 281218.

The George of Stamford

One of Britain’s most historic inns

The George’s hidden courtyard

The George of Stamford is one of Britain’s most historic inns. Privately owned, it exudes a real sense of history – the interior and exterior are full of character that has built up over the centuries like the rings on an ancient English oak. It is one of just a handful of UK hotels to have appeared in every edition of the Michelin Guide since 1911. Excellent food and drink are crucial elements in The George’s successful recipe. There’s an extensive menu of British and European classics available for both lunch and dinner. With summer on its way, the beautiful courtyard – a hidden gem – is perfect for al fresco dining. The ‘Oak Room’ menu is served under the canopy, while the ‘Garden Room’ menu is served on the patio itself. The bright, airy and convivial Garden Room is a wonderfully vibrant dining room. Private dining is also available. Book on 01780 750750.

The Three Hills, Bartlow

Gastronomic downtime in a rural idyll

The short but well-thought-out menu at The Three Hills in Bartlow, East Cambridgeshire, champions local suppliers and follows the seasons. Expect dishes that use local ingredients such as venison and wood pigeon, or maybe you’d prefer something like poached halibut with clams, mussels, fennel purée and a herb beurre blanc? For pudding, you might go for plums and baked custard. This beautiful Grade II-listed 17th century pub-restaurant has six bedrooms, so it’s ideal for a foodie getaway (it runs a special offer to Great Food Club Premium Members). It’s been lovingly decorated and is just 14 miles from Cambridge – perfect for those wanting some gastronomic downtime in a rural idyll. Book on 01223 890500.

The Falcon Hotel, Uppingham

Fine dining with seasonal menus

The Falcon Hotel is a quietly elegant 16th-century coaching inn in the heart of Uppingham with 25 bedrooms. Expect fine dining with seasonally changing menus and a wide variety of flavours. Example dishes include wild boar tortellini with chestnut mushrooms, roscoff onions, celeriac purée, hazelnut crumb & game jus; and tandoori monkfish with onion bhaji, Bombay potatoes, cauliflower, roast onion purée & a mint & yoghurt raita. Alfresco is dining available in the summer (no reservations taken for outside tables) and full traditional English afternoon tea is served every day from 3-6pm. Breakfast is served daily. Book on 01572 823535.

House of Feasts, near Peterborough

Passionate about Polish cuisine

House of Feasts chef-patron Damian Wawrzyniak is not only an exceptional chef, having been selected to cook for the British Royal Family on more than one occasion, he’s also passionate about Polish cuisine. At his restaurant, House of Feasts near Peterborough, Damian shows why BBC Good Food named him a Top 10 UK Food Pioneer. Expect sumptuous food elegantly presented using local produce and homegrown fruit and vegetables. Gems served here include a lovely aged beef tartare served with pickled mushrooms and red onions marinated in blackcurrants, and a traditional Polish Smalec served with sourdough and pickles; or succulent half of chicken, brined and roasted, and served with Fenland potatoes and Cambridgeshire vegetables. Visit House of Feasts once, and you will keep going back for more! Book on 01733 221279.

Don Paddy’s, Uppingham

Friendly, bustling and laid-back

Don Paddy’s is a friendly, bustling and perennially popular cafe, bar and restaurant in the centre of Uppingham. It offers lovely casual dining, with good food and drinks from an eclectic menu that includes breakfasts, lunches and dinners – from American-style pancake stacks to red Thai chicken curry, to breast of pheasant with bubble and squeak. The new Spring Menu lists some great new sharing dishes such as Piri Piri chicken and a tapas board. Brunch is served every day from 9am until 11.30am and is becoming popular. Don Paddy’s is good for al fresco dining in Uppingham market square, and a vegan menu is now available, too. Book on 01572 822255. 

This is a promoted feature. However, all the restaurants featured here are part of GFC’s recommended network and meet our criteria of being independent and somewhere our reviewers would recommend to a friend.

The author:

Matt lives in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. He is passionate about the independent food & drink sector and founded Great Food Club in 2010 after being inspired by local producers near his home town.