Provinces serve up a mouth-watering challenge to London

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The Independent Online

London's crown as the capital of cuisine is being challenged by a new breed of award-winning provincial restaurants, the latest Good Food Guide says.

London's crown as the capital of cuisine is being challenged by a new breed of award-winning provincial restaurants, the latest Good Food Guide says.

High-profile chefs such as Rick Stein and Gordon Ramsay have led increasing demand for good food across the nation, analysts of the British hospitality industry say.

The editor of the guide singled out restaurants beyond the M25 for particular praise in the 2005 edition of the definitive tome to eating. Andrew Turvill said: "Some of the most creative and imaginative cooking in the UK is outside London.

"The capital is not about to lose its position at the culinary vanguard, but it is great to see such things happening all over the country, sometimes in unexpected locations. Anybody who thinks London is the be all and end all needs to expand their horizons."

Mr Turvill lavished special praise on the Leeds restaurant Anthony's, which he described as "a bold splash of culinary enterprise" and "the most exciting arrival in the north of England for some years".

The modern European L'Enclume in Cartmel, Cumbria, was also rated as "perhaps one of the most exciting, innovative restaurants we have ever dined at".

But the top-rated restaurant in the 2005 remained Gordon Ramsay's eponymous establishment in London, which was given a maximum 10 out of 10 by reviewers. But all three of the restaurants given nine out of 10 by the assessors are from outside London this year. They were the Fat Duck in Bray, Windsor, run by the experimental uber-chef Heston Blumenthal, Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons at Great Milton, near Oxford, and the Winteringham Fields restaurant in north Lincolnshire.

Other winners were the Allium restaurant in Fairford, Gloucestershire, named English newcomer of the year, and the highly commended Tyddyn Llan eaterie in Llandrillo, Wales.

Out-of-town restaurants have also begun to curry favour with other reviewers. Ludlow, in Shropshire, now has three restaurants each with a coveted Michelin star and catering for a total population of just 10,000.

A spokesman for the British Hospitality and Restaurant Association said: "You can go almost anywhere in Britain now and have a really good meal at a restaurant which will match the quality of food once available only in London.

"People have become more sophisticated, travel more and are more demanding about food. We have also begun to produce more chefs of high quality, and people are getting used to seeing good cooking and exciting food on the television. They want a part of that."

THE TOP PROVINCIAL RESTAURANTS

1. Fat Duck, Bray, Windsor

2. Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, Great Milton

3. Winteringham Fields, north Lincolnshire

4. Le Champignon Sauvage, Cheltenham

5. Gidleigh Park, Chagford, Devon

6. Hibiscus, Ludlow

7. Merchant House, Ludlow

8. Vineyard at Stockcross, Berkshire

9. Waterside Inn, Bray

10. Anthony's, Leeds

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