‘Like stepping into someone’s home’: readers’ favourite underrated restaurants, from Plymouth to Wirral | Food

The food writer Jonathan Nunn recently published London Feeds Itself, a collection of essays about the capital’s overlooked and underrated places. He celebrates where we really eat, from the local Chinese to the housing estate chippy. We asked readers to name their favourite places around the country.

The High Pavement in Frome, Somerset

The High Pavement restaurant in Frome

This tapas restaurant is absolutely gorgeous. You feel like you are stepping into someone’s home; it has a very personal feel. I think it started as a pop-up some years ago. The food is amazing. The owner spent time travelling in Spain, I believe, and that’s where her inspiration comes from. There is an account for the High Pavement on Instagram but please visit and try it for yourself. Kelly, 45, Somerset

Figo’s Mediterranean Kitchen in West Kirby on Wirral

Martijn and Nicola van der Voort.
Martijn and Nicola van der Voort. Photograph: Guardian Community

Massively overlooked is Figo’s Mediterranean Kitchen in West Kirby on Wirral. If memory serves me right it opened in 2014. Since then we have often visited for the great service and the very well prepared rustic Turkish cuisine, all in a lovely interior. It’s like being on holiday as soon as you walk in here. The eido kebab is a must. The team make every age group feel very comfortable and are on first-name terms with regulars. It’s one of the recommendations I always make when people ask me where to eat locally. The place gets busy on the weekend but I feel it’s a usual hardcore of folks appreciating what’s being done here. The restaurant has been open this long for good reason. As Turkish cuisine is one of my food passions, I have tried many across the UK and abroad and this stands up to the best of them very easily. Can’t recommend it enough. Martijn van der Voort, director of product delivery in the travel industry, West Kirby, Wirral

Kushi-ya in Nottingham

It’s a fantastic little restaurant in an inauspicious alleyway in Nottingham city centre that serves Japanese grilled dishes. It does a great-value lunch and serves the best sesame prawn toast I’ve ever eaten. The service is always good; it’s almost always packed out here because the food is so excellent and it does deserve more plaudits than it seems to get. Roman Filipowicz, 48, senior online sales manager, Nottingham

La Pazienza in Northampton

Lamb chops on a wooden slate at La Pazienza in Northampton
La Pazienza in Northampton
Shaun van Eeden.
Shaun van Eeden. Photograph: Guardian Community

Having left London after 11 years in the city for a more suburban life, I feared that I was leaving behind all of the great food. After six months in Northampton, I went to a restaurant by Abington Park called La Pazienza that was unassuming from the outside, on the busy Wellingborough Road. I ordered the slow-cooked red wine lamb chops with a sauce on top and they were honestly the best chops I’ve ever eaten – a completely unique dish. I was shocked at how brilliant it was. The homemade tiramisu was incredible, and the atmosphere in the garden, with soft Italian music playing, was lovely. Just a complete gem one of the best restaurants I’ve eaten at. Shaun van Eeden, 33, fraud investigator, Northampton

Raviz in Guildford

A restaurant I have never seen written about by critics (outside the local area, that is) is Raviz in Guildford. It’s an upmarket Indian restaurant tucked down a little alleyway. The chef has all the top London Indian restaurants on his CV: Zaika, Tamarind, Cinnamon Club. I’d say that the food is on a par with the far better known Dastaan in Ewell, which was partly publicised by Marina O’Loughlin. It’s a little old-fashioned in terms of decor and service, despite only being open a few years, but that’s getting to be a recommendation in my book these days. Matt Emerson, 56, MD of a lighting wholesaler, Guildford

Desi Dhera in Derby

Mo Suleman.
Mo Suleman. Photograph: Guardian Community

I love food and you will find me and my family eating out most weekends. I’ve lived in Derby for about three and a half years and I’m really impressed by the food scene here. The Marketing Derby food and drinks awards gets thousands of entries and nominations that show the depth of quality here, but it’s usually the same names that get the awards. Normanton Road is an inner-city road that is getting a reputation for its diverse vibrant shops and restaurants. Not many visit it, but once they arrive they’re pleasantly surprised. Desi Dhera is an Indian restaurant that opened a few years ago and does amazing food. It has speciality dishes such as “brain masala”, which is to die for. It also does the usual selection of curries such as bhuna, korma, madras, mixed grills and biryanis. A dish that my wife loves is the charsi lamb karahi, which is like a lamb karahi but with more tomatoes and onions. The quality of the dishes versus the price you pay is unrivalled. The restaurant really works hard to keep prices low and portion sizes reasonably big – a refreshing change in the current climate of shrinkflation. It rarely gets a mention because it’s not mainstream but it definitely deserves more attention. It’s a hidden gem. Mo Suleman, 50, accountant, Derby

Sanskruti in Manchester

A street food dish at Sanskruti in Manchester
Sanskruti in Manchester

This Indian vegetarian restaurant produces delicious, authentic and imaginative dishes and is also able to cater for vegans. I have been visiting for eight years now and it never disappoints. Staff are friendly and service is very good. The quality and freshness of the ingredients are outstanding. I try to visit as often as I can, even though it is on the far side of the city from me. I can’t rave enough. The staff will even go off menu if they have the produce available. I’ve taken many friends and all have been impressed by this significantly above-average restaurant. The food is so varied and flavoursome that there is no chance of missing meat. If I win the lottery, I might hire their head chef to become my private chef at home! Nadia Akhtar, solicitor, Greater Manchester

Sherpa Kitchen in Esher, Surrey

Ciaran Norris
Ciaran Norris. Photograph: Guardian Community

I first came here 20 years ago, when I lived around the corner, and still visit whenever I’m back from Dublin or, before that, Sydney. It’s an incredibly friendly place, all the staff are Nepali, and the food is fantastic. It’s delicate but tasty, with excellent dishes for everyone, whether you like spicy or mild, meat, fish, fowl or plant-based (I dream about the potato cakes). All this, and the owner has an excellent taste in wine and a very good selection by the bottle and glass at reasonable prices. Ciaran Norris, working in advertising, Dun Laoghaire, Ireland

@Kitchen in Plymouth

A banh mi.
A banh mi. Photograph: Namhwi Kim/Alamy
Becky Hand.
Becky Hand. Photograph: Dom Moore

The Vietnamese restaurant @Kitchen in Plymouth is always on the top of my list when I have to venture into the city. It’s on the top floor of the Plymouth Market, with windows facing out on to the street, and a mezzanine overlooking the bustling market. It serves pho, bahn mi, curries and a range of other dishes that are incredible value for money, authentic, fresh and delicious. To give you an idea of price, the most expensive thing on the menu is the £6.95 special of crab fried rice. The calamari with spicy powder is delightful, and the tofu drunken noodles are so moreish, I have in the past considered ordering some to take away too. You can also enjoy a traditional Vietnamese coffee after you’ve gorged yourself on the incredible food. There is also a delightful ramen restaurant on the ground floor called Tea and Bun, but that’s for another time. Becky Hand, 28, journalist and director of a food waste community interest company, Millbrook, Cornwall

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