During lockdown I made a list of places to visit once restrictions were lifted. Now the government have added the Eat Out to Help Out stimulus we thought we should look for participating restaurants that have some accessibility and style. No point wasting your time going somewhere and then not having access:
Eat Out To Help Out is a stimulus from HM Gov for restaurants. It gives 50% off food on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday between 3 and 31 August so I felt we needed to go high end to take full advantage!
First is Roux at The Landau at The Langham Hotel, London.
This where we held the Blue Badge Access Awards and a very fine dining experience it is. Unfortunately, it’s not open until October however The Wigmore is open (Tues-Sat) along with the Artesian Bar (see previous review here), both at The Langham. They have excellent access – The Wigmore is at street level and the Artesian & Landau are accessed through the hotel via a street level wheelchair lift. They have disabled toilets throughout (the best is just off the Artesian Bar on the way to The Landau). You can see their COVID statement here and very thorough it is. Both have great food and use recipes from the Landau overeen/inspired by Michel Roux Jr., even if he’s not cooking. Vanity Fair says of the Wigmore,
‘ a quintessential British tavern, refined with a touch of five-star polish (Martin Brudnizki is responsible for the lovely interiors).’
Delicious food, especially the Cheese Toastie, a great favourite of mine – not cheap so very much a treat after ‘lockdown’. Make sure you book a table especially if you’re in a wheelchair as they were very popular – maybe not so now with distancing measures in place. They are part of Eat Out to Help Out and all three venues get 3 BBS Ticks.
2nd is The Ethicurean.
I went here at Xmas when staying at Sunset House in Portishead near Bristol. The house was wheelchair accessible although not advertised as such, with great views of the Severn estuary. It had an internal lift to all floors and there was plenty of space for me and my chair but no bars in the shower or around the toilet so very much an ambulant accessible home from home. Just a bit of thought and this would appeal to a wider community!!
But I digress, The Ethicurean was exceptional, it’s in an orchard/Victorian walled garden, in the foothills of The Mendips and has fresh seasonal food in a rural setting.
Access is flat with a few minor obstacles including an uneven path. It has disabled parking but not a disabled toilet. As of now (Aug 2020) they’re only open for picnics from Friday to Sunday. If they include the Artichoke ice-cream they are well worth the £30/person. They’re not part of the Eat Out scheme as this only runs Monday to Wednesday but I just had to put them on the list. They get 2 BBS Ticks which is the most they can achieve without a disabled toilet – the ambience and food make up for this omission.
3rd is Wood Restaurant, Manchester
The chef patron is Simon Wood who won BBC’s Masterchef in 2015. Located in First Street a pedestrianised part of Manchester, we assumed it had flat access and they’ve confirmed the
‘main restaurant and lounge area are accessible with flat floors and we do also have a disabled toilet on the same level’.
It’s been recommended to me for its food and as a new Manchester dining experience. Grace Dent of The Guardian says that Wood serves
‘ high-end but not off-puttingly pretentious British dishes such as belly pork with sage, pigeon with fig, and venison with parsnip and ginger.’
According to their Twitter feed they are part of Eat Out to Help Out Scheme on Tues-Weds and it’s reservations only. The menus range from a ‘Taste of Wood’ at £28 for 3 courses to a 5, 7 or 10 course Tasting Menu (£55, £75 & £100 respectively). They get an un-audited 2.5 BBS Ticks as we don’t know what the ‘loo’ looks like!
3rd EIPIC, Belfast
I’ve always wanted to eat here since The BBC Great British Menu favours chefs from this restaurant group, starting with Michael Deane. He owns Deanes Meatlocker, Deanes Love Fish, Deanes at Queens in the Queens University area and Deane and Decano on the Lisburn Road, both in the South of the city. Deanes EIPIC is very much at the ‘high end’ of the group, located on the ground floor of the Howard Street building and they’ve told us that it is
‘fully accessible for wheelchair users. The restaurant is all on the ground floor with generous spacing around the tables and we have a dedicated disabled toilet on the ground floor also.’
The 2020 Great British Menu included the Michelin Starred chef Alex Greene, from EIPIC, winning 2 courses at the banquet celebrating 150 years of children’s literature. Greene created both the starter and dessert course. The starter was potatoes 5 ways, inspired by C.S. Lewis’ Narnia and served in a wardrobe with pickled onions, onion jelly and a four cheese custard. Can’t find this on his current menus (which range from £24 for 2 courses to £70 for 12) however, the dessert of an ‘Edible Picture Book’ is available. Made of coconut parfait, coconut tuile, printed rice paper, chocolate ganache, yuzu gel and coffee jelly, this has to be tried at an extra £20, hopefully with 50% off as they are part of the government’s scheme. They get an unaudited 2.5 BBS Ticks.
4th The Black Swan , Olstead
We reviewed The Black Swan previously as the restaurant of Tommy Banks. He was also a winner of The Great British Menu and has since received a Michelin Star and been voted the World’s Best Restaurant by Tripadvisor. However, we only gave them 2 BBS Ticks as it’s partially accessible (they can accommodate some wheelchairs & ambulant disabled) and there’s no disabled toilet. Nevertheless I want to go and try the food.
We’re uncertain if they’re part of the 50% off scheme which would be great as they are offering just one tasting menu at £98 – £140 when they reopen on Wednesday 12 August,
‘with some exciting new dishes, and amended opening times…. Behind-the-scenes, Tommy Banks and the team have been developing an incredible new tasting menu which we can’t wait to show you’.
All the food is foraged and sourced from Tommy’s family farm. They also provide food boxes which I’m going to try if I can’t get there!! Hear all about his cooking in this video:
That’s my wish list and I’ve just ventured out to one restaurant so far, The Ivy kensington (see previous review here, 2.5 BBS Ticks) . They’ve signed up to Eat Out to Help Out and is COVID aware with its floor to ceiling doors held open for good ventilation. The waiters keep their distance and we thought sanitiser was missing until we tried to season our food with it – looked like a condiment! Smelled lovely though and incidentally we had a good meal of Blackened Cod, Truffle Chips, Gavi di Gavi, followed by a Rum Baba, with superb service in a very accessible space.
If you’ve dared to go out please tell us of your experiences and contact us.