As the county town of Hampshire, Winchester acts as a cultural and historic hub for the region. Most famous as the ancient capital of King Alfred’s reign, the legendary round table of King Arthur hangs in the Castle’s Great Hall, the Domesday book was written here, and the cathedral towers over the scholars scurrying in and out of the elite Winchester College. A recent arts regeneration has seen the theatre refurbished and the library transformed into a Cultural Centre, while the city’s prime location on a direct London train line has seen an influx of commuters looking for a slice of country life. It’s no surprise that the food and drinks scene has likewise adapted and flourished with the city’s growth.
The city’s genteel feel has always naturally attracted foodie types, with the surrounding landscape providing an abundance of quality produce, in particular from the Test and Itchen rivers whose waters teem with fresh trout and flood the huge watercress meadows. The pedestrian High Street is littered with boutique cafés and pâtisseries, the picturesque countryside is heaving with gastropubs, and celebrity chefs are flocking to open venues in the heart of town. The original Hotel du Vin sits next to the boutique Everyman cinema, while Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Canteen (his first outside the South West) overlooks the cathedral, and Rick Stein’s restaurant (his first outside of Padstow) occupies the prime High Street location of a previous Jamie Oliver venue.
With so much on offer, here are our top picks to fill your stomachs and quench your thirst in this enchanting city.