Summer is almost over, and soon the sunshine will disappear and the cold frosty nights will draw in.
What better way, then, to make the most of the last few hot rays than by dining al fresco in the great British outdoors?
From stunning waterside views and tables by the sea to eating your dinner on sky-high rooftops and in secret gardens, every corner of the UK has a charming spot where you can dine outside in style.
Here, BBC Good Food magazine and FEMAIL reveal the hidden al fresco gems around the country.
And they will make you opt to sit outside rather than ask for a table indoors.
HIDDEN SPACES IN EDINBURGH
Visitors to Edinburgh need to know its hidden outdoor spaces; those places where you can swerve the crowds and take a breather. For drinks, try the backyard beer gardens at Blackbird (theblackbirdedinburgh.co.uk)
But for guaranteed high-grade gastro thrills head to Timberyard (mains from £12.50, lunch; timberyard.co). In this hip, post-industrial space, the Radford family have created a New Nordic-inspired restaurant (expect lots of foraging, smoking, preserving and natural wine), where chef Ben Radford makes distinctive use of some exceptional Scottish produce. Sitting in the handsome courtyard, you might enjoy raw Isle of Mull scallops so fresh they’re still pulsating, served with intense pea juice, fresh peas, radish and wild sorrel
MEDITERRANEAN ESCAPES IN CARDIFF
Check out Dusty Knuckle’s (@dusty_knuckle) wood-fired pizzas served in the courtyard at art hub, Printhaus – one of the coolest Med-flavoured joints in town
One of the prettiest Med-flavoured joints in Cardiff is the sun-trap garden at Roath’s Porro (porrocardiff. com) which is a real sweet spot, even before you get to its gutsy Italian plates of pappardelle with braised ox cheek
There is something about Bar 44 (spoiler: it’s the food; tapas from £3.60; bar44.co.uk) which makes its handful of pavement tables the hottest of real estate over summer. Pretend the Millennium Stadium opposite is the Nou Camp and you could be in Barcelona as you graze on ibérico croquetas; or braised lamb with charred onions & Navarrese chistorra sausage
WATERSIDE CHILL IN LEEDS
There are numerous places in Leeds where you can relax beside the River Aire or Leeds- Liverpool canal. But, this summer, it is all about the newbies. Off Leeds Dock, North Star Coffee & General Store, a collab between roasters North Star and Noisette Bakehouse (£5.50-£9; northstarroast.com), is newly open for superb coffee, sunny seasonal brunches and bangin’ bread, tarts and scones
At Water Lane Boathouse, an ex-granary that spills out onto a Canal Wharf terrace, chef Ben Davy is serving knockout Neapolitan pizza. These sourdough beauties are blast-cooked in an imported Stefano Ferrara – the Ferrari of handmade clay pizza ovens – and topped either supertraditionally, with, say, San Marzano tomato sauce and mozzarella, or (echoing the creativity at Ben’s NY-style slice bar, Dough Boys), fresh combos such as smoked aubergine, roast cauli and gremolata from £4.95; waterlaneboathouse.com)
BREW-TAPS & BEER FOOD IN MANCHESTER
Central Manchester’s railway arches and industrial units are teeming with terrific young breweries, who throw irregular brew-tap parties, bringing together the city’s best beer and street food. You can check their dates on Twitter and Facebook, but first swing by Alphabet Brewing Co. (meals £5-9; @AlphabetBrewCo), which every Saturday, on a grimy street behind Piccadilly Station, showcases four traders. Dig in over a pint of Alphabet’s brilliant, chewy A-to-the-K oatmeal pale ale
If the dates align, then head to Blackjack (blackjack-beers. com), which, at its lively tap nights, has given early exposure to many of the break-out stars on Manchester’s street scene
SUN & SHADE IN BIRMINGHAM
There might not be many cool, shady nooks amid central Brum’s chaotic urban sprawl, but seek and ye shall find. If you prefer gritty to pretty, the quirky railway arch ‘garden’ at next-level burger joint, Original Patty Men (from £6.50; originalpattymen.com) – all fake grass, pot plants and trestle tables – is great. As is its classic bacon cheeseburger: charred, moist Longhorn beef, peppy pickles and American cheese
For a more refined experience, head into leafy inner-suburb Edgbaston, where the Michelin-starred Simpson’s occupies one of the area’s many white Georgian villas. The decked terrace is the perfect place to linger over highly creative, summery dishes such as chef Nathan Eades’ lobster & heritage Evesham tomato salad. It comes with a chilled tomato & coriander tea that, as you finish, you pour into the bowl and slurp down (from £35; simpsonsrestaurant.co.uk)
HIGH-RISE DINING IN LONDON
City suits love the neatly manicured rooftop garden at Coq D’Argent (coqdargent.co.uk)
FIVE-STAR STREET FOOD IN BRISTOL
London aside, Bristol is probably the only UK city where street food is an everyday activity. In stellar sandwich van Pickle (picklebristol.co.uk) or those vendors clustered in St Nicholas Market (try BBQ pit bosses Grillstock and Levantine wrap stars, Eat A Pitta; stnicholasmarketbristol.co.uk), the city has an unusually high number of permanent street food outlets. Simultaneously, numerous weekly markets– Wine Street (Tuesdays and Fridays), Temple Quay and Finzels Reach (casusevents. co.uk) and the Tobacco Factory (tobaccofactory.com) – support many more top-notch traders
ESCAPE THE CITY IN OXFORD
On blisteringly hot days, escaping central Oxford’s traffic and tourists can become an urgent necessity. Luckily, you do not have to travel far for tranquillity. On the edge of town, Cherwell Boathouse (mains from £17.75; Cherwell boathouse.co.uk), is, perhaps, the only restaurant in Britain where you can hire a punt after a classy lunch on its riverside terrace
Further afield but equally unique is the sculpture garden at the The Sir Charles Napier (mains from £19.50; sircharlesnapier.co.uk), a polished Michelin-starred pub in the Chiltern Hills
At The White Hart near Abingdon (mains from £16; whitehart-fyfield.com), chef-owner Mark Chandler uses his kitchen-garden to bring a vivid edge to sophisticated dishes such as roasted halibut with clam croquettes, braised Little Gem & tartare butter sauce. In summer, dining spills out onto a terrace lush with greenery
BRILLIANT BEER GARDENS IN GLASGOW
There are a ridiculous number of memorable open-air drinking spots in Glasgow. West on the Green has palatial splendour to spare (westonthegreen.com)
The garden at Brel Bar is unexpectedly cute (brelbar.com)
For craftbeer lovers in particular, Drygate is a must-visit. More stylish than it first appears, this bar, restaurant and micro-brewery has an unapologetically industrial vibe thanks to its location within Tennent’s huge Wellpark brewery site. What it lacks in soft edges, it makes up for in staggeringly good beer. 26 taps and 200 bottles cover all bases (try Drygate’s Seven Peaks mosaic hop IPA), while the kitchen delivers upscale burgers, 60-day aged featherblade steaks with roasted bone marrow and luxe sides (mains from £8.95; drygate.com)
BEACH BITES IN BRIGHTON
The Kings Road arches that run alongside Brighton’s promenade are home to a clutch of great eachside restaurants. Lucky Beach (from £8.50; luckybeach.co.uk), is an arch café with a surf-y vibe that serves terrific organic, grass-fed burgers topped with novel additions such as chicken-fat fried onions, sambal or burnt green chilli butter
Alternatively, stroll down to Riddle & Finns for spanking seafood and ocean views (mains from £14.50; riddleandfinns.co.uk)
Eight more delicious al fresco retreats
1. Green Café, Shropshire: Serious food best eaten on the weir-side terrace.
2. Inn At Whitewell, Lancashire: Remote 14th century riverside pub; sound locally-sourced grub.
3. Nancarrow Farm, Cornwall: Monthly River Cottage-style, wood-grilled feasting.
4. The Crabtree, Sussex: Pub with sharp food and rural views.
5. The Kitchen Garden, Pembrokeshire: A special summer-only dining room that spills out into a secret garden.
6. Burnt Truffle, Cheshire: Overachieving ‘bistro’ with, when the sun appears over the Wirral (it does happen), a busy terrace.
7. Read’s, Kent: Michelin-starred fine dining in a Georgian manor house whose grounds include a walled kitchen garden.
8. Wyken Cafe, Suffolk: Cut-above café food from eggs Benedict to steak sandwiches at Wyken vineyard (famous for its dry, white Bacchus).
For more, please visit bbcgoodfood.com.