Lancashire and the Lake District dominate the 2021 National Food Awards top 100 listings

Mark Birchall at Moor Hall which has two stars

Mark Birchall in the award-winning kitchens at Moor Hall - Credit: Kirsty Thompson

Our Food & Drink editor raises a glass to the Lancashire and Lakeland restaurants named among the country's best.

I can’t help but feel a bit smug about it, but when the National Restaurant Awards named a clutch of Lancashire’s restaurants in their much-coveted list of the 100 best in the business, I felt they were telling us here, in our glorious county, what we already know.  

This is not to belittle the achievement one little bit. The fact that Mark Birchall’s Moor Hall was put in pole position for the second year running – in the middle of a pandemic – is something that deserves much celebration. And to then see a healthy serving of many others was a real shot in the arm for a hospitality industry that has suffered so many challenges. 

Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume, Simon Martin’s Mana, Stosie Madi’s Parkers Arms, Ben Wilkinson’s Cottage in the Wood, Lisa Goodwin-Allen's Northcote, Tom Parker’s The White Swan at Fence, Steven Smith’s Freemason’s at Wiswell, Hrishikesh Desai’s Hrishi restaurant, Manchester’s Erst and Ambleside’s Lake Road Kitchen all made the list, with most in the top 50. This is no mean feat. 

Commenting on the awards, Chef Patron Mark Birchall said: ‘I’m truly honoured that Moor Hall has remained at the top of National Restaurant Awards’ Top 100 list. After the huge challenges faced in the last 18 months, this year’s list is incredibly important in recognising the work everyone is doing, and the determination of the industry to make it through. 
‘My team and I have worked unbelievably hard to get Moor Hall to where it is today. I’m constantly humbled by what we are able to achieve and am always striving to go one step further. This year we aimed for Moor Hall to be the best it’s ever been for our guests and team. We’ve also been working particularly hard on our charcuterie and cheese production and I’m very excited to see where this takes us.’ 

As the national broadsheets were filled with joy about Lancashire’s restaurants in the days following the announcements, you couldn’t help but smile at the celebration, support and inevitable bookings heading in the direction of some of our most treasured dining destinations. It’s hard to see how it has taken so long, though. For years our chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers and food and drink producers have been creating perfect plates, produce and drinks to rival anything you’ll find in the capital, which has traditionally taken the lion’s share of food accolades. But now the gaze turns north. 

And don’t they deserve it, after everything the last 18 months have served them? The challenges are still there of course, with staff shortages a real issue, making it difficult for some places to keep up with diner demand. For some, it is an even bleaker picture with not enough staff to even open their doors. But now, when so many of our brilliant restaurants are being recognised for their stellar work, it is a time to celebrate, share and enjoy that moment in the sun after a long, metaphorical, winter and cheer on our hospitality heroes. Long may they prosper. 

The North West restaurants listed in the top 100 of the 2021 National Restaurant Awards

1. Moor Hall, Aughton
5. L'Enclume, Cartmel
11. Mana, Ancoats
23. The Parkers Arms, Newton-in-Bowland
24. The Cottage in the Wood, Keswick
34. Northcote, Langho
36. The White Swan at Fence, Fence
38. Freemasons at Wiswell, Wiswell
39. Hrishi, Windermere
47. Erst, Manchester
78. Lake Road Kitchen, Ambleside

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