Let’s face it, high street dining in the UK has become rather homogenised, but not in Winchester.
If you’re looking for a quick bite, you’ll find all the usual suspects, but they are by no means the staple diet. Instead, you’ll find lots of independent restaurants, alongside big name, high-quality eateries.
There are far too many to mention, but here’s the top three that we experienced.
The Ivy took the glitz and glamour of its Covent Garden eatery to Hampshire a few years ago.
And it would seem the county’s great and good continue to be wowed by this showstopper of a restaurant if a full house at 6pm on a Thursday was anything to go by.
We expected a quiet, early, family dinner, but the place was buzzing.
I can recommend tuna carpaccio, cucumber, baby basil with an apple, jalapeño and avocado sauce – healthy, yet satisfying.
For main course I had blackened cod fillet, baked in a banana leaf with a soy and sesame marinade, citrus-pickled fennel, grilled broccoli, chilli and yuzu mayonnaise.
Sustainable food guru Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall has River Cottage Kitchen in Abbey Mill Gardens, just behind Winchester Cathedral.
We grabbed the chance to sample the best ingredients the season had on offer. Much of the menu is plant-based but I managed to try organic hanger steak, with beetchup (ketchup made from beetroot), salsa verde and garlic mushrooms from the a la carte menu.
There is also a set menu, offering a two-course lunch for £12.95.
Abbey Mill Gardens, The Broadway,
Winchester SO23 9GH.
Seafood chef Rick Stein has a prime spot on the high street, and our visit was so thoroughly enjoyable.
Despite it being a high end restaurant, my family was met by a sea of smiling faces from staff and diners alike.
Children are most definitely welcome here, and the manager was quick to point out that the children’s menu might not be what we might have expected. I reassured him that real food was most welcome, as was the lack of chicken nuggets.
This is a fish restaurant, so naturally the order of the day is just that, even for small people.
My daughter couldn’t quite wait to eat her fish and chips and dived into the crab linguine I’d ordered as a starter, fingers first.
Not quite the table manners we’re trying to instil at home, but I could hardly blame her because it smelled so good. The taste was on point as well, and I regretted not choosing the larger portion for my main course.
But I couldn’t resist Indonesian seafood curry – sea bass, cod and prawns served with pilau rice and a green bean and grated coconut salad, with crisp fried shallots, garlic and chilli.
Rick Stein is famed for outstanding fish and chips and my husband ordered what turned out to be the largest portion we’d ever seen. I failed to see how two people could finish it.
7 High Street,
Winchester SO23 9JX.
Winchester has so many relaxed dining options, but Dim-t is a great pit stop to unwind after a hard day’s sightseeing and shopping.
The menu hops across Asia and we rather enjoyed dim sum – spicy prawn and chicken, cashew and coriander were particular hits all round.
There are all sorts of dishes to tickle the taste buds, including ramen, rice and noodles.
8-9 Jewry Street,
Winchester SO23 8RZ