Archive for the ‘British Food’ Category

Alternative Dining Experiences

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015
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The UK is known for its fantastic selection of restaurants, from The Fat Duck in Berkshire to 34 The Kitchen in Edinburgh, we are not short of wonderful dining experiences, but what if we fancy something new, something a bit different? If you’re looking for an alternative dining experience, one that will really impress your friends and family, then keep reading as we suggest three odd yet wonderful restaurants to discover this year.

Dans le Noir, London

Dans le Noir

Image from Dans Le Noir

A truly unique dining experience has come to London, one that sees guests embark on a sensory journey as they are guided to their table and served by blind people whilst in complete darkness. The idea behind Dans Le Noir is that when you dull the dominant sense of sight, your other senses become heightened allowing you to taste and smell food like never before. Not only does the darkness enhance your senses but it is also said to kill shyness, making even the quietest guest come out of their shell. The restaurant chefs cook surprise meals every evening and a lunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Guests have the choice between four different menus including a fish and seafood option and a vegetarian option.

Price: Two course meal from £44, three course meal from £52. Drinks not included.

Contact:;; 02072 531100

The Bridge Inn at Ratho, Midlothian

The Bridge Inn restaurant barge has been a regular site along the Union Canal for the past 30 years, offering guests a unique dining experience as they gently tour the canal. Whilst on their cruise, guests can indulge in a three course meal, specially prepared by a team of professional chefs. The barge can also be rented out for private functions for up to 36 people at a time, making this the perfect spot for a special birthday celebration or wedding anniversary. Cruises are run most weekends but please check with The Bridge Inn before arriving whether they are offering an evening or lunch cruise on the day you plan to visit. If there are no cruises running that day then don’t fret as The Bridge Inn restaurant opens daily and offers a fantastic menu.

Price: Lunch from £29.95 (£18.95 for under 12’s), dinner from £34.95. Drinks not included.

Contact:;; 01313 331320

Dungeons after Dark, Warwick Castle

Travel back though time with Dungeons After Dark at Warwick Castle, where guests can experience a truly unique tour of the Warwick Castle dungeons, meet some of the castle’s more horrifying residents and enjoy a tasty three course banquet. An evening in the dungeons is sure to impress your friends and family, with the frightful entertainment and themed menu sure to see you coming back for more. For guests with a nervous disposition, Warwick Castle offer an array of other themed evenings including The Highwayman’s Supper, The Kingmaker’s Medieval Banquet, and a Dine Through Time Banquet. Please be aware that themed evenings at Warwick Castle are for over 18’s only.

Price: From £60.00 per person, cash bar available on arrival.

Contact:; 01926 406660

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By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

Britain’s Best Eco-Friendly Restaurants

Monday, June 22nd, 2015
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We all like to do our bit to help the environment- whether it’s recycling, using energy-efficient appliances or buying organic food to cook at home- but have you ever wondered about how you can be more eco-friendly when you’re eating out? Here in the UK, we have a large number of fantastic eco-friendly restaurants; we’ve done some research and come up with our favourite eco-friendly restaurants in the UK, for the next time you want to enjoy a meal out, safe in the knowledge that the food you’re eating is as environmentally friendly as possible.

Blas Burgerworks, St Ives, Cornwall

As someone who will always choose the burger on the menu, Blas Burgerworks is right up my street. This restaurant prides itself on being eco-friendly and still providing delicious food. All of their furniture is made from reclaimed timber or sustainable sources, they use 100% green electricity, recycle as much as they possibly can and use recycled boxes and napkins in the restaurant itself. Their burgers are made using Cornish meat which is free range, and their other produce is fresh and locally sourced where possible. Described on Trip Advisor as “a real hidden gem”, you don’t want to miss it!

Contact info: 01736 797272;

ODE dining, Shaldon, Devon

If you’re looking for a dining experience with ethics, ODE dining is ideal. ODE dining provide high quality regional food, with their seasonal menu currently offering dishes such as ‘Torched Lyme bay mackeral’ and ‘Duckaller farm pork fillet’. They have a strong sustainability policy supporting local farms that have high standards of animal welfare; they will never use factory-farmed fish or poultry in their menu, or use GMO products. However it’s not just the food that’s eco-friendly, the kitchen uses low energy equipment, organic napkins and soya candles.

Contact info: 01626 873977;

Bordeaux Quay, Bristol, Somerset

This sophisticated converted warehouse on Bristol’s beautiful waterfront is one of the UK’s most acclaimed sustainable restaurants. In 2011, it was recognised as a Three Star Sustainability Champion by the Sustainable Restaurant Association- the highest possible national award for general sustainability. Bordeaux Quay have a broad recycling and composting system, use sustainably sourced resources and also boast their own rainwater harvesting system. With the Restaurant, the Brasserie and even a Cooking School to choose from, Bordeaux Quay is the perfect place to head to whatever the occasion.

Contact info:  0117 943 1200;

The Traddock, Austwick, Yorkshire

This family-run restaurant near Settle has two AA Rosette chefs, who make some of the finest food around using Yorkshire Dales produce, usually from within a 50 mile radius of the restaurant. The Traddock uses organic, seasonal produce where possible and is totally upfront about where it gets its ingredients, with a whole page on their website dedicated to their food provenance. The menu itself is enough to make anyone’s mouth water, featuring the likes of ‘Roast rack of Mansergh Hall lamb’, ‘Yorkshire smoked rainbow trout’ and ‘Traddock summer pudding’.

Contact info: 01524 251224;

If you do get the chance to visit any of these fantastic restaurants then do let us know what you think! You can do so via our Facebook or Twitter pages. If you’re planning an eco-friendly holiday then you can check out our eco-friendly holiday cottages on our website.

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Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Sykes’ Guide to a Family Barbecue

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015
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Well summer is finally just around the corner! We were lucky enough to have a bit of good weather over the bank holiday and for me, it seemed to signal one thing – the start of the Barbecue season! Now you can’t beat a proper barbie in the back garden; good food, good company and a little bit of sunshine, it’s quite the mix! So we’ve come up with some handy hints and tips for the next time you have all the family round, take a look and see what you think!

Getting Prepped

Now you don’t need me to tell you that the most important part of any barbecue is the food, but with the right preparation it can reach a whole new level. First things first, make sure that any frozen meats that you’re thinking of using are fully defrosted before you put them on the barbie – you’d be surprised at how many people think they can defrost their food and cook it at the same time!

Next we’ve got marinades. These are really important for meats like chicken or fish that have a tendency to dry out when being barbecued, as they’ll keep them nice and juicy whilst giving an extra bit of flavour. You can either buy your marinades pre-made at the supermarket, or there are plenty of recipes available online if you fancy making them yourself.

Fire up the Barbie


Why not fire up the Barbie in a Sykes holiday cottage?

Then we’ve got the actual cooking. One of the most common mistakes made when barbecuing food is throwing the food on before the barbie is ready for it. Make sure that you light it up well in advance so that there is plenty of time for it to reach the necessary temperature – normally a barbecue isn’t ready until the coals have stopped smoking and are covered in a fine layer of white ash. You can also throw a couple of sprigs of rosemary onto the coals at this point to add an extra layer of flavour!

You should also make sure that the grill is properly oiled before you start to put the food on, after all, you don’t want it sticking to the barbecue! If you want to get that lovely, crispy and caramelised finish, make sure that you hold back from poking and prodding the food too much. You should only flip the food a couple of times as doing it any more will encourage the juices to escape and the meat to dry out.

Time to Tuck in!

Then it’s time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour! If you’re serving up burgers, make sure that you put out a variety of buns, relishes and toppings so that everybody can customise theirs to their heart’s content! If you want to save yourself a bit of effort down the line, you could always give everyone paper plates and cut down on the washing up that needs to be done at the end of the evening!

So there you go, some hints and tips from the Sykes team on hosting the perfect family BBQ! Hopefully we’ll have another cracking summer this year and we’ll be able to get out and enjoy some proper al fresco dining. But if you really want to make the most of the summer have a look here and find yourself a holiday cottage complete with a stunning garden where you can rustle up a feast for the family!

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Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.

A Day of Traditional British Food

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015
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For today’s instalment of the Sykes Cottages blog, we’ve decided to delve into the world of great British food. For some reason our neighbours over on the continent seem to look down on our cuisine, so here at Sykes we’ve decided to try and come up with a selection of traditional British dishes that we think best showcases our grub. We’ve picked out three, one for each of breakfast, lunch and dinner, in order to make up a menu for the perfect day of British nosh; why don’t you take a look and see what you think.


Smoked fish, rice, curry powder and hard boiled eggs, doesn’t exactly sound like your typical breakfast dish now does it? Well that’s exactly what kedgeree is! Starting off life on the Indian subcontinent as the rice and lentil dish of Khichari, it quickly became a favourite of the British living in colonial India. Over the years they gradually added ingredients that were a bit more familiar to the British palate and the name was eventually Anglicised into the kedgeree that we know today. The dish was so popular with those serving in the Raj that it was brought back when they returned home and became a breakfast staple in Victorian Britain.

Welsh Rarebit

For lunch we’re heading over to Wales and the classic dish of Welsh Rarebit. Although the name might suggest otherwise to the unknowing, there isn’t actually any rabbit present in the dish. Instead, a proper Rarebit is made up of a savoury, cheese-based sauce and toasted bread. Various additional ingredients are often added to the sauce to give that little bit extra, from mustard to cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce to paprika and even a bit of beer!


Now we couldn’t really write a piece about classic British dishes without taking a trip north of the border for a spot of haggis! This archetypal Scottish dish is mainly reserved for special occasions such as Burns Night (where it even has a poem read for it), although in recent times it has seen something of a renaissance that has put it back on the everyday dining table. Made using minced sheep’s pluck (I wouldn’t read too much into this if I were you!) packed into casing, a haggis is normally either simmered or cooked in an oven until piping hot and served up with “neeps and tatties”. However, if you’re looking to try out something different you’ll want to take a look at this collection of recipes.

So there you have it, the perfect selection of dishes for you to rustle up in order to celebrate some of the best British grub. We’d love to know if you decided to try and put together any of the dishes, just make sure that you send us a picture over Facebook or Twitter so that we can have a little nosey!


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Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.

Best Bread Baking Courses

Friday, April 10th, 2015
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Freshly baked bread is one of life’s little luxuries. From the whole house being filled with the warming doughy scent to slathering some butter or jam on a slice of fresh-out-of-the-oven bread, there is nothing better! If you’re a bread fan who is in the mood to learn a new skill on your next UK cottage holiday, why not mix both together and book yourself on a bread baking course whilst you’re away? If this sounds like the perfect holiday activity then read on as we look at four of the best bread baking courses around.

The Thoughtful Bread Company, Bath

If you’re in Bath and fancy getting stuck in to some bread making, The Thoughtful Bread Company is the place to go! Join the company’s founder, Duncan Glendinning, on one of their fantastic baking courses to learn all the skills you need to bake your own perfect loaf from scratch! Their introduction to bread baking course takes both beginners and amateurs on a baking journey through three recipes that are created entirely by hand. You can see more information about their bakery courses on their website.

The Epsom Bakehouse, Epsom

Whether you’re a beginner wanting to learn the basics, or a seasoned baker looking to expand your repertoire to include Italian breads or sourdough, The Epsom Bakehouse has something perfect for you! Classes last for roughly four hours and include a light lunch, plus you get to take the bread you make home – perfect for sharing (or keeping to yourself!) For dates and times of upcoming courses visit The Epsom Bakehouse website.

River Cottage, Devon

With courses running throughout the year, River Cottage is the place to visit if you’d like to increase your culinary knowledge when on holiday in Devon. During the full-day bread making course at River Cottage, you will not only learn the basics of bread making but also be able to indulge in your own freshly made pizza during your lunch break. Yum! See more about this bread making course on the River Cottage website.

The Bakehouse, West Yorkshire

The Bakehouse operates as a workers’ cooperative and aims to provide Real Bread whilst providing food to the community in an ethical way. Not only this, but if you’re holidaying in West Yorkshire and fancy working on your kneading skills, The Bakehouse is the ideal location. With a choice of Basic Bread Making or Simply Sourdough, you will be able to work on existing skills or create entirely new ones! Find out more about the cooperative on their website or find course dates here.

Book a UK Self Catering Holiday

Norbury self catering holiday lodge, Peak District

Image of the kitchen in Norbury, near Alton Towers in the Peak District.

After all that kneading, proving and eating, you’ll probably want somewhere comfortable to rest your head and enjoy your baked goods! Our selection of lovely holiday cottages across the UK are perfect resting places for weary bakers who need a good night’s sleep before waking up and indulging in a toasted slab of homemade bread. Plus, all of our properties have fully stocked kitchens so you can practice your new skills from the comfort of your holiday cottage. Visit the Sykes Cottages website to browse our selection of holiday properties across the UK and Ireland.

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Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.