With restaurants reopening after almost four months of closed doors, Brits are being urged to start supporting the hospitality industry this summer.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced an ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ scheme offering discounts to diners who visit participating restaurants on certain dates throughout August in a bid to kickstart the industry.
If you are looking forward to dining out this summer, and want something a little more unusual than a traditional pub, we’ve rounded up our pick of some of the quirkiest places to eat out in the UK:
Go wild – dine in the Amazon rainforest
For a dining experience that the whole family will love, we recommend a trip to the Rainforest Café, located at Piccadilly Circus. It’s a spectacular feast – both for tummies and for the eyes – as guests eat in a jungle themed diner, complete with tropical showers and waterfalls.
Be amazed by the animatronics that bring to life jungle creatures such as jaguars, crocodiles and gorillas – and watch out for the occasional rumble of thunder too.
The menu is predominantly American, with a wide selection of burgers, pasta and an impressive rack of finger lickin’ ribs. Younger diners (under 12’s) can choose from a children’s menu. You can book a table online, or if you are in the area, they also keep some tables for walk-in guests – but be warned you may have to wait.
Experience the first all-vegan restaurant in Cardiff
Anna Loka is a vegan restaurant that will delight both vegans and non-vegans alike. It has featured in Hello Magazine’s list of ‘Best Vegetarian Restaurants In The UK’, so you know you are in for a delicious meat-free treat when you book a table at this Cardiff-based restaurant.
Not only is the food amazing, but the décor is impressive as well, with low-key wooden floors and furniture dominated by impressive wall murals, you are guaranteed to enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner in style.
We’re sure the extensive menu will convert carnivores – if you don’t believe us, try the menanam burger, a tempah burger topped with smoky cheese, garlic mayo and chutney – all of which is 100% vegan.
Eat out in a Wonderland inspired courtyard
Reopening in August, the Jekyll & Hyde is one of the coolest places to eat and drink in Birmingham. It’s home to a Victorian Gin Parlour and an Alice In Wonderland style courtyard.
Customers can choose from a selection of over 100 global gins and can even take part in a gin cocktail making masterclass. If you are feeling hungry, this quirky and unusual hostelry also serves Mad Hatter style high tea, homemade sandwiches and gourmet style hot-dogs and burgers.
Eat in your very own igloo
A country pub in the heart of Northamptonshire is an unlikely venue for dining out in a igloo, but that’s just what’s on offer at The Sondes Arms near Corby.
The 16th century coaching inn is already in an idyllic location, sitting in the shadows of Rockingham Castle, but has recently introduced four-to-six-seater eskimo-style pods for an enhanced dining experience.
It’s the ultimate in socially distanced dining as each party has their own igloo in which to enjoy a delicious meal from the pub’s extensive menu, which includes homemade pies, curries and lasagnes. They also serve afternoon tea and provide a children’s menu for your little foodies.
But hurry – if you like the idea of dining in an igloo, they are proving so popular that bookings are already being taken for Christmas.
Dine in the footsteps of Queen Victoria
If you’ve ever wanted to dine like royalty, then we suggest a trip to the dramatic Inverlochy Castle, where Queen Victoria spent a week in 1873. The monarch claimed that she ‘…never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot’. And if it’s good enough for Queen Vic, it’s good enough for us!
Located just outside the town of Fort William, the castle is also a hotel, which houses the Albert and Michel Roux Jr Restaurant. Guests can relax with a pre-dinner drink by the enormous fireplace before enjoying a culinary experience that melds French influences with the best of British cuisine.
Even the furniture has the royal seal of approval, having been gifted to the castle by the King of Norway.
Whatever floats your boat
For seafood lovers who are looking for something truly whimsical, we suggest the London Shell Co, which offers a dining experience as you drift dreamily along Regent’s Canal, past London Zoo and Regents Park. The floating kitchen also takes you through Maida Vale tunnel as you enjoy dinner aboard the Prince Regent Barge.
The menu changes regularly, but current dishes include breaded smoked haddock served with pot roast leeks and cheese sauce, and Cornish cod with braised cuttlefish, potatoes and wild garlic.
Explore exotic dining with zebra on the menu
If you want to experience something completely off the wall, we recommend a trip to Archipelago in W1, London. It’s a sensory adventure taking place against a backdrop of giant peacock feathers, palm trees and golden Buddhas.
For adventurous eaters, the menu boasts dishes that include zebra, crocodile and kangaroo. And if you really want to test your taste buds, you can opt for Chilli & Garlic Locusts or a Faux Caviar made from mealworms.
Archipelago aims to educate and broaden your culinary knowledge – did you know that kangaroo and crocodile are low in fat and cholesterol? Plus, all the ingredients used are free-range, organic and farmed, never taken from the wild.
Book before you arrive
As restaurants are still in the early phases of reopening, many are not accepting ‘walk-ins’ and have reduced capacity to accommodate social distancing measures. We advise booking online or calling the restaurant to reserve your table to avoid disappointment. Happy dining!