Behind The Blue Door

Afternoon Tea | June 9, 2016 |

Al fresco afternoons:

The UK's best outdoor dining experiences



Long summer afternoons in the sunshine. It’s English summer at its best. Bookmark this guide to the best al fresco (or almost) dining in the UK and make a beeline as soon as the sun peeps out.


The London one: The Roof Gardens, Kensington


Image source: The Roof Gardens

It would be almost criminal to write about al fresco dining without name-dropping Kensington’s Roof Gardens. Tropical foliage lines this much-lauded outdoor restaurant, adding to a sense of wonderful displacement. When you consider that this 1.5 acre garden soars 100 feet above one of London’s busiest streets, The Roof Gardens are unrivalled – and yes, brilliantly contradictory.


Take the experience home: Create a colourful oasis at home by serving tea in Wedgwood’s Cuckoo collection.



The seaside one: HIX Oyster and Fish House, Lyme Regis


Image source: HIX Oyster and Fish House

Floor to ceiling glass windows? Check. Panoramic Jurassic coast views? Check. Daily-changing seafood menu? Yes, that too. HIX Oyster and Fish House is a Norfolk gem with pared back simplicity – allowing the view and food to take centre stage. The English wines are a talking point too.


Take the experience home: No coastline? No problem. Simply pile the Daisy Tea Story collection with small savouries and serve in the garden, with your choice of home-grown fizz. Perhaps choose one from our list of best UK vineyards.



The retail retreat one: Selfridges Forest restaurant and bar on the roof, London

Spring Forest selfridges

Image source: Selfridges

From breakfast in the summer sun to cocktails under the stars, Selfridges’ revamped roof terrace is a haven from the bustle of Oxford Street below. Choose from small plates such as spiced tuna tartare with lime and avocado or carefully-sourced meals including slow cooked wild boar with buckwheat pasta.


Take the experience home: Inspired by life up in the skies? Simply pop downstairs, explore Selfridges’ Wedgwood concession and order from the new Blue Bird collection, with its fresh, timeless celebration of nature.



The hotel one: Varsity Hotel and Spa, Cambridge


Image source: The Varsity Hotel

Perfectly located in the heart of Cambridge, this roof garden restaurant, alongside the River Cam, is worth a trip pre or post-punt. Overlooking the historic colleges, the food lives up to the view. Try the martinis – they’ve attracted rave reviews.


Take the experience home:

Equally inspired by the blend of historic inspiration and modern tastes, these Wedgwood archive mugs will take your al fresco experience to new levels.



The larder in the sky one: Ham Yard Hotel, London

You’ll need to be a guest – or throwing a private event – to access the fourth floor roof terrace of Soho’s Ham Yard Hotel. Perch at the bar, lounge on the sofas or simply wander round the sky high kitchen garden, which provides ingredients for executive head chef Robin Read. There are even a pair of bee hives, producing honey used by the baristas in their cocktails.


Take the experience home: Ham Yard owner Kit Kemp poured her quirky eye for design into her very own range for Wedgwood. Mythical Creatures is a whimsical collection that will certainly evoke memories of the hotel’s unique decor.



The ‘slow food’ one: Petersham Nurseries, Richmond, Surrey


Image source: Petersham Nurseries/Facebook

Securing the talents of new head chef Damian Clisby (previously at HIX Soho and Cotswold House) has certainly pulled the crowds to this well-established slow-food restaurant. Winning two prestigious food awards in 2015 hasn’t done its popularity any harm either. The menu is seasonal, respectfully sourced and worth making a trip for.


Take the experience home:
What better than Wedgwood’s iconic Wild Strawberry range to evoke Petersham’s celebration of nature’s harvest?



The hidden one: The Secret Garden, Edinburgh

alfrescoWitchery (1)

Image source: The Witchery

‘Gothic-ambient’, ‘faultless service’ and ‘wonderfully elegant’ are just a few of the glowing write-ups describing the Secret Garden – part of the Witchery in Edinburgh. This intimate courtyard restaurant is at the top of the historic Royal Mile – look for the gilded heraldic sign and you’ve found it. Creep down the winding staircase and you’ll emerge in this atmospheric space, complete with painted ceiling and french windows.


Take the experience home: Recreate the Witchery’s romantic extravagance with the dark and evocative Arris range


Make a weekend of it with our guide to country stays that don’t skimp on luxury.


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The Jasper Conran Tisbury collection offers a plethora of informal tableware and home accessories that allow you to mix the collection into your everyday living. The tailored shapes with renowned Jasper Conran precision combine with a resilient porcelain, glass and wood to withstand wear and tear of everyday use. Natural colour styles contribute to an effortless look and feel.

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