Winchester city food guide

Winchester city food guide

by Great British Chefs 14 August 2015

In recent years, the city of Winchester has become a veritable foodie mecca, from Michelin-starred dining to incredible markets, celebrity chefs and café culture. Our city guide will help you find the best food and drink options this historic Hampshire city has to offer.

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Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews as well as access to some of Britain’s greatest chefs. Our posts cover everything we are excited about from the latest openings and hottest food trends to brilliant new producers and exclusive chef interviews.

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.

Casual eats

A pizza place that really cares about its ingredients

The Corner House, North Walls - The kind of place you never want to leave… start the day with some saucy eggs from the breakfast menu, a local platter, famous fish pie or buffalo burger from the seasonal menu for lunch, a slice of cake mid-afternoon, then investigate the wine list in the evenings. Oh, and they host book clubs, knitting groups and much more too.

71 North Walls, Winchester, SO23 8DA. Tel: 01962 827 779. Closed on Mondays.

The Earl of Sandwich, Jewry Street - In the heart of the city, this is the go-to place for a proper sarnie, with locally sourced bread and a different hot carvery sandwich every day.

34 Jewry Street, Winchester, SO23 8RY. Tel: 01962 842 797.

Pi Woodfired, Stockbridge Road - A pizza place that really cares about its ingredients; artisan cheeses both from Italy and the New Forest, meat from Owton and Bartlett’s butchers, Isle of Wight tomatoes and 48 fermented sourdough bases. Craft beers and juices complete the menu.

132 Stockbridge Road, Winchester, SO22 6RN. Tel: 01962 866469

Gurkha’s Inn, City Road - Winchester is home to the Gurkha Museum and this Nepalese restaurant showcases many traditional dishes and curries from different regions within both Nepal and India.

17 City Road, Winchester, SO23 8SD. Tel: 01962 842843

Dining destinations

The Black Rat, Chesil Street - Part of the ‘black’ group (Black Boy, Black Bottle, and Black Hole), Winchester’s Michelin-starred restaurant serves up innovative food from chef Ollie Moore.

88 Chesil Street, Winchester, SO23 0HX. Tel: 01962 844465

The Chesil Rectory, Chesil Street - Previously voted one of the most romantic restaurants in the country, The Chesil occupies a 600 year old grade II listed building, creating an atmosphere full of character and charm to complement the immaculate modern British cuisine on offer.

1 Chesil Street, Winchester, SO23 0HU. Tel: 01962 851555

Pulpo Negro, Alresford - For something a little different, the authentic tapas in Andres Alemany Alresford dining room is well worth a visit, expect traditional jamon and chorizo iberico as well as more creative options including pigs trotter croquetas, duck egg sobrasoda and hazelnuts and refreshing Sangria sorbet.

28 Broad Street, Alresford, SO24 9AQ. Tel: 01962 732262

The Greyhound on the Test, Stockbridge - With a large dining room and open courtyard and garden overlooking the river, the Greyhound has an excellent reputation for elegant British food, extravagant shooting dinners, and a whisky list almost as long as the wine options.

31 High Street, Stockbridge, SO20 6EY. Tel: 01264 810833

The Plough, Longparish - Chef James Durrant is a previous Great British Menu winner and is currently Food Ambassador for Hampshire. Highly rated in all the usual pub guides, the menu is seasonal and local, and James’ Kitchen Table cookery school and private dining space allows you to get up close with the food itself.

Longparish, Andover, SP11 6PB. Tel: 01264 720358. Closed on Mondays.

Old Vine pub and restaurant on Great Minster Street
Old Vine pub and restaurant on Great Minster Street
Charming interior of the 18th century Old Vine pub and restaurant building
Charming interior of the 18th century Old Vine pub and restaurant building

Watering holes

No. 5 Bridge Street, Bridge Street - With an impressive cocktail list, locally sourced beers and a boutique wine selection, this shabby-chic bar and restaurant even has rooms if too tired to make it back up the High Street...

5 Bridge Street, Winchester, SO23 0HN. Tel: 01962 863838

Black White Red, Jewry Street - Referring to the colours of coffee and wine, this bijou bar is perfect for both a morning pick-me-up or a pre-theatre drink (positioned almost directly opposite), with an informative menu offering taste and flavour relationships to encourage you to broaden your palette. It’s also co-owned by rugby legend Chris Robshaw, who might seem an unusual choice but actually undertook professional barista training during his off-season.

28 Jewry Street, Winchester, SO23 8RY. Tel: 01962 865215

The Black Boy, Wharf Hill and The Black Bottle, Bridge Street - From the same family as The Black Rat restaurant, the Boy and Bottle offer a proper pub with a focus on locally brewed real ales, and a ‘by-the-glass’ concept wine bar with choices from the 140 bottle cellar.

1 Wharf Hill, Winchester, SO23 9NP. Tel: 01962 861754 and 4 Bridge Street, Winchester, SO23 9BH. Tel: 01962 621563

The Old Vine, Great Minster Street - In the boutique square opposite the cathedral green, The Old Vine is pub, bar, restaurant and rooms all in one. The main bar area has plenty of period charm from the 18th century building, while the flower-filled patio is the perfect quiet spot to enjoy a drink in away from the hustle and bustle of the shops.

8 Great Minster Street, Winchester, SO23 9HA. Tel: 01962 854616

The Mayfly, Stockbridge - Known as the ‘inn by the river’, this pub lives it up its name, with a large beer garden perched right on the edge of the River Test. Soak up the beautiful view and watch the trout swim past your table, while you sample the extensive wine list or a pint of real ale. The food’s pretty darn good, too.

Fullerton, Nr. Stockbridge, SO20 6AX. Tel: 01264 860283

Stocking up

The flower-filled patio is the perfect quiet spot to enjoy a drink in away from the hustle and bustle of the shops
[They source] pork from the only fully free range pig farm in the country.

Winchester Farmer’s Market, Middle Brook Street - Every second and last Sunday of the month, this car park and most of the surrounding streets are taken over by one of the largest Farmer’s Markets in the country, look out for the buffalo burgers from Laverstoke Farm and watercress scones in the summer.

Middle Brook Street & Middle Brook Street Car Park, SO23 8DQ. Tel: 01420 588671

The Good Life Farm Shop, Kings Worthy - Just outside the city centre, this village farm shop and café is well worth a visit for its excellent T.H Burroughs butchery (including the pork from the only fully free range pig farm in the country), eclectic deli of local and continental goods, and excellent fresh bakery. You may need a coffee and cake from the café in preparation for carrying your purchases to the car.

Springvale Road, Headbourne Worthy, Winchester, SO23 7LD. Tel: 01962 889000

The Sweet Treat Company, City Road - Like something out of a childhood dream, jars and jars of nostalgic sweets fill the shelves of this little shop, fill up on barley sugars, bon bons and coconut mushrooms - enough to satisfy any sweet tooth!

27 City Road, Winchester, SO23 8SD. Tel: 01962 808343

The Bridge Patisserie, Bridge Street - If looking for fancy cakes, tarts or pastries to take home, this is the place to go. From celebration cakes to savoury bites, this little French bakery has a stunning display to choose from.

20 Bridge Street, Winchester, Hants, SO23 9BH. Tel: 01962 890767

Char Teas, High Street - Stocking hundreds of quality loose leaf teas, this specialist shop has a wealth of knowledge surrounding all things tea, and these unusual brews make wonderful gifts for tea lovers.

156 High Street, Winchester, SO23 9BA. Tel: 01962 868760

Game on sale at Winchester Farmer's Market
Game on sale at Winchester Farmer's Market
People browsing for cheese at Winchester Farmer's Market
People browsing for cheese at Winchester Farmer's Market

Don't miss . . .

Grinding your own flour at the city’s working water mill.

A trip on a classic steam train on the Watercress line, complete with dining trains and real ale trains, it’s a foodie experience by name and nature.

If that’s not enough watercress for you, Alresford hosts a Watercress festival every May to celebrate this leafy gem.

The Christmas market surrounding the scenic cathedral every November-December, think traditional German chalets serving hot chocolate, mulled wine, bratwurst, stollen and mince pies. Stock up on handmade gifts or take a twirl on the outdoor ice rink.

A masterclass or tasting with wine experts Susie Barry and Peter Richards at Winchester Wine Festival in November.

Feeling like lord or lady of the manor with an indulgent afternoon tea overlooking the stunning grounds of Lainston House hotel. You can even go fishing or shooting or arrive by helicopter if desired...