Behold, a round-up of awesome restaurants that should definitely be on your must-eat lists for the coming year.
Some have been around for a while, some you need to queue for, some haven't even opened yet – but they've all got one thing in common. They deliver on their promise to seduce your tastebuds and leave you wanting more. Job. Done.
The Chef's Table, Chester
Consistently winning 'perfect' and 'exceptional' accolades from Tripadvisor reviewers, the team at The Chef's Table take seasonal produce and turn it into downright amazing dishes. Portions aren't the biggest you could find but the food really is Masterchef-worthy and because of their diehard dedication to organic, seasonal produce (so many say it but The Chef's Table prove it with their flavours) there's brilliant choices for veggies as well as meat-eaters.
Top dish: It's tricky because their ethos really does hook off the whole seasonal thing, but if you're going to read this and book a table immediately, the Mallard (wild duck) is the current menu's winner.
Red's True Barbecue, Leeds
You know those people who claim beards are so over? They're the ones that say it about dining out on burgers and ribs too. Happily, they are WRONG (on both counts, in our opinion) and there's no greater proof than this BBQ mecca. Run by two rub-loving Americans who weren't happy with the way Brits did barbeque dining, it's unashamedly big and brash but Red's gets away with it because the flavours of every single dish are just as bolshy.
Top dish: #RedsDonutBurger – two patties between two glazed doughnuts. Stop grimacing, it's ace.
Restaurant Story, London
To describe the experience and food at this London restaurant is to tell kids that Santa isn't real – and who wants to be responsible for ruining an unforgettable encounter? Let's just say that chef Tom Sellers' edible story makes Heston Blumenthal's fare seem like a 70s prawn cocktail, and that you're treated to so many more treats than the tasting menus would have you believe. For the love of tastebuds, go!
Top dish: Common word is that some of the snacks served up before your tasting menu officially begins are better than the main dishes.
Bistro 1847, Birmingham
Eating out as a veggie can feel like a neverending battle against mushroom risotto, but this place is fighting the good greengrocer's fight against traditional vegetable stereotypes. Each dish reads like a shopping list of slightly odd ingredients but once expertly delivered onto the plate, the ingredients come together and make you question why all the big London restaurants aren't serving them up.
Top dish: Cauliflower & milk crumb, masala spices, mushroom emulsion, Caramelised cauliflower, spiced pease pudding. Phew, that was a long one.
There's more than one burger restaurant in Edinburgh but our heart and head lies with the plainly-named Burger, quite simply because as well as their juicy beef patties, they serve up 'fusion' delights like a Chicken Katsu, which has always been our guilty pleasure at Wagamamas. Breadcrumbed chicken and dirty curry sauce in a bun? Behave yourselves. And did we mention it's super-duper value?
Top dish: The aforementioned Katsu, although the hot dogs + toppings are pretty epic too.
The Sportsman, Kent
A seafood-lover's delight. Perched on the Whitstable coast, you'll struggle to find fresher and tastier fish than in this lovely pub. The menu is pretty much dictated by what you'll find in the estuary and on the farms nearby, and is wonderfully unfussy. There's a tasting menu, like there seems to be everywhere these days, which is genuinely the best way to delve into perfectly-cooked scallops, crab, fish – and then there's the pork and lamb...
Top dish: Slip sole grilled in seaweed butter. The chef churns the butter himself and then adds salt evaporated from seawater and gutweed foraged from the local beach!
Chop Bloc, Chelmsford
We're so ahead of the curve on this one, the doors haven't even opened yet. Set to open in mid-Feb, the brothers behind this steakhouse (whose dad just happens to be a master butcher) have laid down the meaty gauntlet by pledging to slice all their steaks in-house before cooking.
Top dish: Who can say before opening day?! But even if you don't like steak, their burgers will be created using a 1940's American smash technique which gives a crust on the outside of an otherwise-juicy patty.
Got the winter blues? Try munching on these...