The best Italian in Liverpool - great food, great atmosphere, reasonably priced where you can rub shoulders with members of Liverpool FC and Everton FC, local actors and musicians. If your visit's an evening one, make sure to book.
Cook Street, a stumble from Matthew Street
From outside the Dean Gallery looks like what it used to be: a hospital. Not the orphan hospital it actually was, but more a retreat for Victorian gents with gout, set as it is in opulent grounds. But it’s all about the beauty on the inside. Surrealist art (including works by Dali and Man Ray), a recreation of Sir Eduardo Paolozzi’s haphazard studio, a shop packed with fascinating books, and a buzzing café in which locals and visitors share their love of art over steaming cups, all combine to make it an unusually vibrant gallery experience.
Not quite so lively is the Dean Cemetery, located at the side of the gallery. But it’s still wonderful to stroll through the trees and read the names of forgotten scholars and captains of industry on mossy mausoleums and gravestones.
Old and new melted into one another. Dali might have liked it.
The Dean Gallery it located directly opposite the National Gallery of Modern Art, Belford Road, Lothian. Number 13 Bus from Georges Street; entry is free; www.natgalscot.ac.uk
Finding somewhere to eat on a weekend away is generally a hit-and-miss affair – there’s just no time to learn from your mistakes. Which is why a restaurant like Rick’s is a godsend. In fact, it was so good we ended up eating there two nights in a row.
55a Frederick Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1HL; tel: 0131 622 7800; www.ricksedinburgh.co.uk
It is a fantastically old fashioned hotel with a great restaurant serving a great selection of British food. Perfect for a special occasion and a great location next to Buckingham Palace. It is privately owned so individual in every aspect.
Beeston Place, Grosvenor Gardens, SW1W OJW; tel: 0207 396 9000; www.goringhotel.co.uk/
Thousands of shoppers every day pass some of Leeds’ best kept secrets - the pubs in the little alleys off Briggate. Of these, the best two are Whitelocks (down an alley by the Northern Rock) a fantastic time-warp of a pub with walls covered in mirrors supplied by long since defunct breweries. Excellent real ale, and famed for its luncheons. The other highlight is the Angel Inn, a Sam Smiths boozer down an alley beside Dixons. Cheap beer and comfortable surroundings - the upstairs lounge is a great way to pass an hour with the papers away from the bustle of Briggate.
Briggate, Leeds city centre; nearest station: Leeds City.
OK, so it's nearer Wakefield than Leeds, but it’s still only an hour away from the city, so it’s great for a day trip. Some of the most fantastic British sculpture that you will see, set in beautiful parklands - a top day out.
Wow - this place is amazing. Who would have thought that a restaurant that from the outside looks like a newsagents and stuck in boring suburbs could be this fantastic. You must book in advance and you get offered either a 7pm or 9pm sitting - but do it because it’s worth it.
Quality food like this doesn't usually come this cheap - and given the name of the place, baked stuff is a bit of a speciality (and believe me those breads and biscuity pudding things are out of this world). It’s a case of bring your own with the booze - so get your self a fancy bottle of plonk and head there now.
293 Spen Lane, West Park, Headingley; tel: 0113 278 7255
A word of warning to heterosexual males and homosexual women. You may have heard the rumour that there are six women for every man in Nottingham. Unfortunately this was only true during the second world war, when Nottingham's men were battling the Nazi menace. Today, the city's population is strictly 50/50.
It's the best bar in Newcastle. It has loads of really nice beers (including Magus, from the Durham Brewery, one of the best real ales you'll ever taste), friendly service, good atmosphere, and a cool domed roof.
Up from the Tyne Theatre at 125 Westgate Road
Fantastic Samuel Smith’s pub on Fleet Street. Great Sam Smith's ales - Old Brewery Bitter etc - one of the cheapest brews in London, but still great quality. Friendly staff, good food in 'chop room' and from the bar. The building is fantastic – don’t make the mistake of standing in the small bar at the entrance - there's a whole warren of bars and rooms all over the pub - the basement is particularly good.
145 Fleet Street - look for the illuminated cube sign outside then go up the little alley to the door; nearest tube: City Thameslink.
Come here for a really excellent Thai meal for around £6 for a main course. You'll get reliably good food at a bargain price, good beer brought to your table and a pleasant, friendly atmosphere. I've been going here for years and it's never let me down. It's best to phone and book a table.
119 Kensington Church Street, London, W8; tel: 0207 792 1246
This place is indispensable for brunches. It's usually pretty quiet on a Saturday/Sunday morning, which makes it very relaxing for the hungover. Try the peanut butter and banana malt and pancakes with bacon and maple syrup.
Eagle Bar and Diner, Rathbone Place, London W1
(off Oxford Street, near Tottenham Court Rd tube station)
A Mexican bar/restaurant found on Broughton Street. The food is pretty basic fare, but is a reasonable price and the restaurant is always busy. It's a great place to go for lunch or a light evening meal or even just some drinks with friends, with a good atmosphere and a great location.
It's simple, but effective.
Sunday flower market, good for buying fresh flowers and plants, but also great just to walk about. Plenty of cafes and shops to poke about in too, and within walking distance of Brick Lane (for a curry) or Kingsland Road (for Vietnamese).
Columbia Road, Hackney E2
A sumptuous, cosy Mediterranean restaurant that serves mouthwatering lunches at an amazing price.
Impress your friends by taking them there for melt-in-your-mouth mousakka, tantalising halloumi or satisfying salad for starters.
Recommended mains include heavenly seafood spaghetti, Mediterranean chicken and beautiful burgers. Vegetarians can also enjoy a wide variety of appetising dishes.
Don't forget to book!
8 Theberton St, off Upper Street, Islington
Nearest tube: Angel
This food store never seems to fail you - is it sour cream you need, raisin bagels, Iranian gaz sweets or those little olives with pimentoes? Or how about Honduran coffee or unputdownable Reese's Peanut Butter cups?
Hamid sits behind his counter reading his Farsi literature and unfailingly comes up with the goods- the best place in the midlands by the way for Halva and Turkish delight.
103 Alcester Road
Wow. For the definitive view of London, reserve a place at Vertigo 42, the champagne bar at the top of Tower 42. The bar is located on the 42nd floor and gives great views over the city.
Remember to book upfront, the bar does not accept walk-ins. Also remember to dress smartly, there’s lots of city folk in suits. Over 18s only.
Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, London, EC2N 1HQ; Nearest tube: Bank; www.vertigo42.co.uk
One time prisoner of war camp and former home of the BBC, you get a great view over east London from here.
There's also a pub and 200 acres of parkland surrounding the palace. Muswell Hill's cafes and bars aren't too far away either.
Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, Wood Green, N22 7AY; www.alexandrapalace.com
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