5 Dishes That Show British Food Far Exceeds Its Reputation

British food often gets a bad rap as unsophisticated and unappealing, but in reality this couldn’t be farther from the truth. The cuisine of the isles includes some of the world’s ultimate comfort food, and creative takes on beloved classics drive a constant evolution of the United Kingdom’s national fare. Check out these five fantastic dishes that showcase the Brits’ best culinary treats.

1. Sunday Roast

Sunday Roast - Aged Black Angus Prime Rib by CCFoodTravel.com (CC)
Sunday Roast – Aged Black Angus Prime Rib by: CCFoodTravel.com (CC)

Standard British fare definitely doesn’t have to be disappointing, and you’d be hard pressed to find much to dislike about the classic Sunday roast. Also known as a “roast dinner,” this array of delectable dishes combined into a single meal reigns as one of the kings of national cuisine. Meat (the centerpiece) usually comes in the form of a half chicken, slices of roast beef, or lamb, and is accompanied by a side of roasted root veggies. Add some mashed potatoes, bacon-wrapped sausages, or just about any other treat you can imagine, and you have your roast dinner. Of course, you can’t forget the Yorkshire puddings: crispy-yet-doughy pastry cups that provide maximum storage capacity for all that gravy you’ll want to dump onto your plate. The roast is filling and delicious, and can be spiced up in all sorts of ways. Vegetarians (if you’re still reading) take note: you’ll find plenty of meatless Sunday roast options around the country.

2. Scotch Egg

Scotch eggs at Fifty Acres cafe in Richmond by Katherine Lim (CC)
Scotch eggs at Fifty Acres cafe in Richmond by: Katherine Lim (CC)

A perfect example of quintessential pub grub, the Scotch egg combines several already-delicious components into a mouthwatering whole. This venerable fixture of hearty British cuisine consists of a hard-boiled egg covered in a layer of sausage meat, then coated with breadcrumbs and cooked either in a fryer or oven. The deliciously juicy sausage on the outside contains a variety of herbs, and the entire dish is sometimes topped with gravy and served up with a side of mashed potatoes. Gastropubs throughout the United Kingdom—particularly in London, Manchester, Edinburgh, and other large cities—are offering more and more gourmet versions of pub food, and the Scotch egg is no exception. You’ll find plenty of handmade, vegetarian, and other styles all over the place.

Plan a trip to Edinburgh (or any other British city, really) and get your hands on a Scotch egg along the way.

3. Welsh Cawl

Pichelsteiner by Josef Turk Jun (CC)
Pichelsteiner by: Josef Turk Jun (CC)

Arguably the national dish of Wales, cawl is about as good as warming comfort food gets. Though recipes vary slightly depending on where you go, the classic version features a clear vegetable broth packed with potatoes, carrots, leeks, and rutabagas. More traditional cawl uses beef or cured bacon, but the type you’ll most likely see while on your trip to Wales uses simmered, tender chunks of lamb. Savor a steaming bowl of cawl and you’ll be savoring the region’s history, as well: some records of the dish from Pembrokeshire and the southwest date back to the 14th century. Pubs and Welsh restaurants, as well as more touristy areas around the country, will likely offer cawl in abundance.

You can plan a trip to Wales using this sample itinerary for inspiration:

4. Kedgeree

smoked fish kedgeree by missy (CC)
smoked fish kedgeree by: missy (CC)

Kedgeree, like many Indian-influenced British favorites, has its roots in India. Centuries of colonial rule and immigration during and after the British Empire mean that Indian food has had a profound effect on the British palate. Kedgeree features some killer flavors: cooked basmati rice combined with parsley, cilantro, chili, butter, and curry powder, and then accented with quartered soft-boiled eggs, tomatoes, and smoked fish for a tasty result. The best part? It’s very well suited to customization, so you’ll find all sorts of variations featuring different types of fish, vegetables, and add-ons throughout the United Kingdom.

5. Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky toffee pudding by Katherine (CC)
Sticky toffee pudding by: Katherine (CC)

Your sweet tooth certainly won’t suffer if you plan a trip to the United Kingdom; the island nation features its fair share of dessert specialties and sugary delights. Universally beloved as an after-dinner staple, sticky toffee pudding gives the taste buds some intense indulgence. This ultra-moist sponge cake is packed full of chopped dates, served hot, and covered in rich toffee topping. Combined with custard or vanilla ice cream, it’s a dessert for the ages. Though sticky toffee pudding only originated in the second half of the 20th century, it’s already joined the ranks of the classics. Look for this near ubiquitous pudding on menus in pubs, cafes, and sit-down restaurants that serve British fare.

Best of British

Tally Ho, North Finchley, London by Ewan Munro (CC)
Tally Ho, North Finchley, London by: Ewan Munro (CC)

While traveling through Great Britain, you’ll be greeted with a huge array of British classics; however, traditional doesn’t have to mean unexciting. Check out these fantastic examples of top-notch British food while exploring the region, and use the Inspirock itinerary maker to see and do more along the way.

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