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Our Favourite Hidden Restaurants


Harriet Worthington08 March 2017

In tribute to Channel 4's series 'Hidden Restaurants with Michel Roux Jr' we asked the Cactus Kitchens' team for their ‘hidden’ recommendations around the country. Unlike the TV show, they didn’t need to be situated in the middle of an estuary or in a car park, we just asked that their recommendation be somewhere they genuinely enjoyed and out of the ordinary.

In his latest series two-Michelin-starred chef, Michel, travels the country to find restaurants set up in wonderfully peculiar places. Taking 'thinking outside the box' to a whole new level, anything from shipping containers to garden sheds are transformed into eateries. Here's our team guide to 11 unique and unusual restaurants around the country.

London

Home Economist Laura picked Four Hundred Rabbits in Crystal Palace citing delicious sourdough pizzas and Prosecco on tap as the reason she keeps returning. The pizzeria uses predominantly seasonal British ingredients and sources charcuterie from Cannon & Cannon who cure their meats using animals that have been ethically and sustainably reared.

Head of Happiness Kate told us all you need is love (and a sausage roll) from the Olympic Studios Dining Room, cocooned next to Olympic Studios cinema in Barnes. As well as offering up the best breakfast pastries in Richmond, the building boasts an amazing history having previously been a recording studio where artists such as The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Queen recorded albums.

Class Tutor Millie loves Legs, a tiny 24 seat restaurant and wine bar in Hackney’s fashion district. The food and wine menu reflected the restaurant’s passion for good quality seasonal produce from suppliers that care both about sustainability and their land. The music is also pretty top notch (and coming from our resident drummer, we’re inclined to believe her.)

If you are not are a habitué of Zone 5 you are unlikely to have heard of Queensbury (unless you’ve ever nodded off on a westbound Jubilee Line train) or Maître D’ Rosie's choice of The Regency ClubSet in an old pub, the interior hasn’t been changed since it first opened its doors in 1991. Complete with leather booths and stained glass chandeliers, don’t miss the garlic mogo and chicken wings.

Head of Finance James kept things local. 22 North Street in Clapham offers a monthly changing menu with matching wines as well as a pretty spectacular Sunday roast. If you’re looking for a true ‘hidden’ experience, the restaurant offers a secret dining room, accessible only through a concealed door in a bookcase.

east anglia

Corporate Events Manager Hannah racked her brains and picked Hermitage Rd in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, formerly known as the Hermitage Ballrooms where her grandmother learnt how to dance. Rated as one of The Independent's 50 best coffee shops but it's the Sunday night live music and £5 cocktails that Hannah particularly loves.

If you are looking for something off the beaten track and definitely hidden in Suffolk, then head to the Artisan Smokehouse Café and Deli. This is a nice little place (more a café than a restaurant) which sells very different in-house smoked quality products.

Further north on the A12 light and airy Darsham Nursery Cafe brightens a dreary day with its fresh, innovative middle-eastern influenced menu. Many of the ingredients on your plate will have been plucked straight from the nursery veg patch that you pass on your way in. 

Midlands

Home Economist Harriet still dreams of many a lazy Saturday afternoon eating fish finger sandwiches in Homemade Café, Nottingham. Found on Pelham Street just off the Old Market Square, it’s hard to miss the window display bursting with homemade cakes and brownies. The café has recently taken over the refurbished Old Pavilion on the Forest Recreation Ground, which forms the southernmost part of Sherwood Forest.

North West

Cookery School Director, Anna loves Liverpool’s Maray, as it combines her two loves - cocktails and sharing plates, ‘which means you can work your way through more of the menu’. Located in the heart of the city, on Bold Street, Maray is nestled among the many flourishing independent businesses that have popped up there recently.

A former clothes shop, it was transformed into a fully functioning restaurant in less than eight weeks. Produce is sourced from family-run and award-winning North West businesses including Ward's Fish and Lake's Specialty Foods.

Scotland

Our resident Scot, Home Economist Gemma dreams of Corrieri's Cafe. Renowned throughout Scotland, this Scottish-Tuscan family café has been producing perfect pizzas for over 40 years. But it is her longing for the legendary milkshakes made with the award-winning Corrieri’s ice cream (churned fresh on the premises!) that always lures Gemma back north of the border.