We’re all feeling optimistically hopeful that life is finally beginning to return to normal as lockdown restrictions continue to ease. The reopening of many pubs and restaurants this week means that we can once again meet up with small groups of families and friends to enjoy al fresco dining.
If you’re searching for inspiration for outdoor dining venues where you can catch up with friends, here’s our pick of the best pubs and restaurants with outdoor seating in the UK where you can enjoy a pint and a meal at a socially distanced table:
Brunch in a beer garden
The Rose and Crown in Orpington is making the most of its stunning beer garden. The owner has installed quirky Tiki Huts and covered outdoor seating areas – and is opening its doors earlier in the day to offer diners the opportunity to eat brunch.
The menu is very reasonably priced with starters from £5.95 and mains from £9.95. The Rose and Crown also offer a good selection of vegan and vegetarian meals including a spicy tofu and lentil curry. Children are welcome and there is a menu especially for little diners.
And, since the British weather cannot be trusted, the pub invites you to take along a hot water bottle which they fill up to keep you cosy on cold days.
A pub on the beach
What could be better? Sea air, sand and a hearty meal on the beach! Book a table at The Old Neptune pub in Whitstable and discover a wide choice of continental lagers, local craft ales and home-cooked food which you can enjoy as you watch the sun disappear below the horizon.
The Old Neptune boasts an impressive menu of traditional British pub food, including locally caught fish and chips and a homemade pie of the day, served with mash. During the summer, the pub also hosts a beach barbeque serving hotdogs and burgers.
Indulge in an igloo
The Sondes Arms, on the outskirts of Rockingham Forest in Northamptonshire, provides a novel outdoor eating experience in a Courtyard Igloo.
The pub invites diners to ‘bring your bubble to our bubble’ and dine in one of their six-seater igloos. Their Sunday lunch is immensely popular, with two courses for £15.95 and three courses for £19.95. The lunch is served carvery style with a choice of meats or plant-based options, with a dessert menu that is updated daily.
You can also book an ‘igloo afternoon tea’ and enjoy finger sandwiches, freshly prepared scones with clotted cream and jam, and a selection of cakes and patisseries.
A meal in a mill
The Mill at Elstead, Surrey, is a rustic building that dates back to 1647 and was used as a military hospital during World War II. These days, The Mill hosts diners looking for locally sourced dishes to enjoy in a relaxed and peaceful environment.
The diner has plenty of outside space with socially distanced tables overlooking the millpond, where you can sip an ice-cold gin and tonic from the extensive drinks menu courtesy of Sipsmiths of London.
Make sure you leave room for pudding as you won’t want to miss out on the pub’s signature dessert, Sticky Toffee Pudding, served with a generous dollop of fresh cream.
Relaxed riverside dining
Reopening on April 26th, The Ferry Inn overlooks the River Teifi that runs through the pretty village of St Dogmaels in Pembrokeshire.
Dine or enjoy a drink on one of several waterfront terraces which have been transformed for al fresco meals, with enhanced rain protection and patio heaters in abundance.
The Ferry Inn promises a brand-new menu for the reopening with a range of daily specials and freshly-caught fish dishes – and with a host of accolades including the Good Food Award for Gastro Pubs 2021 to its name, we’re sure you will not be disappointed.
An urban oasis in Central London
If you are fed-up with cooking at home, why not splurge on a first-class dining experience? Reserve a table at Jurema, at The Mandrake in Fitzrovia, and enjoy a meal whilst seated on the evergreen terrace which is tastefully decorated with hanging passionflower and jasmine plants.
The food and décor take their influence from South America, with summer dishes including Grilled Lamb Shoulder Tacos, Octopus and Artichoke Empanadas and Chalk Stream Trout with Sorrel and Sea Herbs.
Early birds can enjoy the restaurant’s breakfast menu which includes a full English and a unique well-being breakfast of Chickpea and Herb Panisse, Avocado, Olive Oil Poached Tomatoes, Spinach and Toast.
Chill out in the Chilterns
With views of the scenic Chilterns from its patio, the idyllic Red Lion pub located in the heart of Chenies, offers heated outdoor seating and a seasonal menu of pub favourites. For those who just want to sample the ever-changing range of craft ales, or premium spirits, there are plenty of benches where you can relax and enjoy a drink.
For a real weekend treat, reserve a table for an indulgent brunch of Eggs Royale or Avocado on Toast. If you have a heartier appetite, the Red Lion offers a full English breakfast or a veggie alternative.
Book up and stay safe
Most eateries are only accepting diners who have pre-booked, so make sure you reserve your table at your chosen restaurant or pub, rather than take a chance. Most places are booking up fast, so if you are struggling to get a booking, look at dining outside of peak lunch and evening mealtimes and you may have more luck in securing a table.
Keep yourself and other diners safe with groups of no more than six people (which can be from different households) at a table – and remember to wear a mask when not seated at your table or when walking through the pub to access the outside space or toilets.