British History

A Gourmet Guide to Traditional British Food Dishes

England may not be as famous for its cuisine as its history and culture, but British food is hearty, colourful and guaranteed to satisfy during a busy day of sightseeing.

In recent years, historic staples have been reinvented with modern twists that put the cuisine back on the culinary map. From the traditional and the regional to the downright strange, here are our favourite dishes to sample when visiting the UK.

Fish and chips

A seaside treat turned takeaway favourite, beer-battered fish and chips are a mainstay of British cuisine. While the deep-fried dish (traditionally served with ‘mushy’ peas) isn’t the healthiest, this hasn’t affected its popularity.

Having matured in recent years – and no longer solely served in its humble newspaper wrapping – variations on the classic cod and haddock now include scampi, lobster and prawn tails. Try it for yourself on our Jack the Ripper tour. You can also try a real up-market fish and chips experience at the Chesterfield Hotel in Mayfair.


From traditional pastry pies packed with meat and vegetables to Shepard’s Pie (not actually a pie, but minced beef topped with mashed potato), there are many types of pie to sample when visiting Britain. Start off with an old favourite, Steak and Ale, before moving onto modern takes on old classics such as lamb and rosemary or Champagne and truffle.

Bangers and mash

Simple yet hearty, Bangers and Mash is a traditional dish of sausages with mashed potatoes and onion gravy. Top British charcuteries are now looking beyond the traditional pork sausage and experimenting with contemporary alternatives such as venison, beef and even duck.

A Gourmet Guide to British Food

Yorkshire puddings

Not technically a dessert (although leftovers can be smothered in jam for a sweet treat), the Yorkshire pudding is a savoury staple made from a batter of eggs, flour and milk. It’s usually served as part of a Sunday Roast (another must-try British dish), alongside roast beef, vegetables and gravy. Another place to find a Yorkshire pudding is in the amusingly named dish, ‘toad in the hole’ – simply sausages cooked in batter.

Scotch eggs

A popular savoury picnic snack, especially when the sun is shining, Scotch eggs are hard-boiled eggs wrapped in meat and fried. While traditionally made with sausage meat, nowadays, diners can pick up eggs wrapped in various ingredients, from smoked scallops to falafel.

Cornish Pasties

A classic dish born in Cornwall, the Cornish pasty is another noteworthy British snack, originally imagined as an easy and filling lunch for local miners. Shortcrust pastry pockets are packed with all manner of ingredients and baked. Popular fillings include beef, potato and swede; cheese and onion; and ham, bacon and leek.


If you’re venturing as far as Scotland, you’ve got to sample the country’s famous delicacy: haggis. The unusual Scottish national dish includes lamb, oatmeal, onions and spices, which are encased and cooked in a sheep’s stomach. It may not be the most elegant of dishes, but it sure is tasty. If the thought of a sheep’s stomach puts you off, it’s occasionally available in an artificial casing. To experience haggis, take a day trip from London to Edinburgh or even a three-day tour of Scotland with Evan Evans.

There you have it! We hope our list of unmissable British delicacies has got your mouth watering. If you’d like to check out some fine English dining with all the trimmings, we strongly recommend the English Grill at the Rubens Hotel, Buckingham Palace Road.

Book any of our tours of Britain and keep your energy up by sampling these British foods in between sightseeing excursions.