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North-West eatery, L’Enclume voted UK’s Best Restaurant in new Harden’s poll

Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume in Cartmel, Cumbria has been voted the UK’s best restaurant in the carefully curated annual Harden’s Top 100 Best UK Restaurants diners’ poll.

The much-loved Lake District dining destination has featured in the Harden’s Top 100 every year since the list first launched in 2011, but this is the first time it has reached the top spot. Feedback from diners hailed it as “a completely faultless experience” marshalling the finest local produce – much of it from Simon’s ‘Our Farm’ on the surrounding hillsides – to provide “a symphony of beautifully orchestrated food” in a 17-course meal.

Peter Harden, co-founder of Harden’s, comments: “L’Enclume has always been consistent in its top quality offering and it was wonderful to hear the recent news that Paul Burgalières, who has been a key figure in L’Enclume’s evolution over the past six years, has now been appointed Executive Chef. Coming in at £300+ it’s certainly one of the higher priced restaurants in our listings, but we see none of the resistance from diners with regards to paying those prices that we’ve seen at other top establishments. Those who’ve made the pilgrimage think it’s money very well spent.”
Chef owner Simon Rogan says: “My team and myself are honoured that L’Enclume has been rated the number 1 restaurant in the UK by diners on behalf of Harden’s. To have been featured in Harden’s Top 100 every year since its inception in 2011 is an amazing achievement and being awarded the top spot for the 2024 edition is a testament to the amazing year we’ve had.”

Paul Burgalières adds: “I am very proud of everything we have achieved at L’Enclume over the past couple of years. To take the position of Executive Chef has been a great honour, and I am excited that our work at the restaurant has achieved such a high level of recognition.”

The 33rd edition of the Harden’s guide, published this week (ISBN: 978-1916076174, price £20: also available as apps for Apple or Android), is one of only two surviving established UK restaurant guides made available in print, and the only one based on feedback from normal diners rather than a group of professional inspectors. A total of 30,000 reports are submitted from a survey of 2,500 diners. Restaurants at all price levels are included: from street food vendors to the country’s most ambitious dining rooms, with 2,800 restaurants listed in total.

Strikingly, the number of Top 100 restaurants based in London has fallen to an all-time low. Usually expected to make up between 45-50% of the final rankings, this year only 36 of the UK’s best restaurants are listed there.

The North West is one of the best performing regions outside of London with an impressive 37 ‘Top Scoring’ restaurants, eight of which have made it into the acclaimed Harden’s Top 100 list.

Manchester’s Mana in Sawmill Court continues to maintain the “outstanding all-round” form to secure its place in the Top 100 for yet another consecutive year, while Sam Buckley’s hipster hotspot in Stockport, Where The Light Gets In, storms into the Top 50 (ranked 48) thanks to its “major emphasis on sustainability and local sourcing” with “delicious wine pairings” all served by “lovely staff ”.

In Lancashire, Mark Birchall’s Moor Hall in Aughton (just a short drive up from Liverpool) rockets up from last year’s 77 position with a Top 10 listing at number 6. Diners say, “There is nothing not to love about the experience – from the tour of the kitchen on the way to your table through the ballet of service to the final bites of deliciousness, all done with great charm and humour”. Meanwhile another Lancashire manor house, Northcote (70) in Langho, is described as “going from strength to strength under the stewardship of Lisa Goodwin-Allen” whose “exceptional and innovative” cuisine maintains its reputation in fine style. And proper local pub, White Swan at Fence is proclaimed as “restaurant of the year’ for many of the survey’s reporters with service that’s both “fun and professional, not at all stuffy” and “stunningly good food” from Northcote-trained chef Tom Parker.

Andrew Wildsmith’s “luscious” Lakeland hotel The Forest Side (33) at Grasmere achieves another Top 50 listing for Cumbria for its “exemplary service” and “faultless cuisine” served up by chef Paul Leonard and his team. That said, the pricing is a sticking point for some diners, who feel “it’s good but not outstanding judged against the strong local competition, and heartier appetites may not be
satisfied”. Finally the characterful, Allium at Askham Hall (86) in Penrith is notable for “the most incredible wine list” in a Grade I listed mansion dating from the 1200s, which has been inhabited by the family of the current owners since 1724.

Peter Harden, co-founder of Harden’s, comments: “This year it has been interesting to note that London’s grip on the Top 100 list is the weakest that we have ever recorded (the lowest previous figure was 41 in the 2020 guide). Whilst 12 months is too little data for firm pronouncements, this swing to the shires may reflect the increasing excellence of dining out across the UK.

“The North-West has made a strong showing in this year’s list, not necessarily for the cities themselves but for top dining in leafy touristic locations such as the Lake District and Lancashire. With more and more diners seemingly valuing and indeed seeking out these types of dining experiences, the region could have even more to gain by drawing further attention to its stunning countryside locales.”

Notes for editors

1. Harden’s is the UK’s original ‘user-generated content’ restaurant guide, with ratings derived statistically from an annual survey, run on market research principles. The Harden’s survey of regular restaurant-goers is now in its 33rd year. It has been national in scope since 1999.

2. Harden’s is now the only UK restaurant guide sold in bookshops based on feedback from normal diners rather than a group of professional inspectors.

3. Harden’s content is available as an app, in guidebook format, and also at

4. Harden’s Restaurant Finder can be downloaded from the Apple or Google App stores. The app is free, but full functionality can be purchased for an annual subscription of £8.99.

5. Harden’s Best UK Restaurants 2024, £20, is available in all good bookshops, including Waterstone’s and, and from