Combining locally sourced produce and a range of exciting beers, dining at a gastropub is a must-have experience on any foodie’s UK itinerary
Gastropubs are undoubtedly one of the UK’s most exciting culinary establishments, and if you aren’t sure which one to go to, the 2019 Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list should come in handy. In this article, we feature a few shining stars that we really like.
1st position: The Sportsman, Seasalter, Kent
Cementing its status as the premier gastropub in the United Kingdom, Sportsman is Stephen Harris’ Michelin-starred “boozer”, a quaint coastal pub with sweeping countryside views, set a stone’s throw from the seaside in Whitstable, Kent. Situated in the idyllic marshes of Seasalter, Sportsman offers beauty on and off the plate.
Priding itself on sourcing only the freshest produce and ingredients, Sportsman allows the local area to “dictate what we cook”, boasting an in-house kitchen garden as well as a reputation for plucking oysters straight from the Thames Estuary and picking fresh seaweed from the surrounding sea. For those with a passion for modern British flavours, try the beautiful native oysters or a meat course (the restaurant hunts its own game in nearby marshland).
If you’re seeking an immersive dining experience without the stuffy restaurant setting, Sportsman is the place to go. In keeping with the local ethos of the pub, the menu is subject to variation so an open mind is needed, however three meat and three fish courses are always on offer.
5th position: The Hardwick, Abergavenny, Wales
Promoted as a gateway to Wales, Abergavenny is home to Wales’ largest annual food festival each September and the locals have a keen appreciation for great pub food. Nestled at the edge of town, Stephen Terry’s ‘The Hardwick’ gastropub is a sublime dining experience that offers mouth-watering dishes in a laid-back environment.
The cuisine itself is hyper-local, with Terry extremely passionate about supporting the local producers around him and crediting them on his menu. The braised rabbit is a resounding success while the Herefordshire rib-eye showcases The Hardwick’s astute attention to cooking beautiful, nearby ingredients.
22nd position: The Kingham Plough, Chipping Norton
The affluent market town of Chipping Norton in the Cotswold Hills (Oxfordshire) has quite a few famous residents (among them Patrick Stewart, Jeremy Clarkson, Ben Kingsley, David Cameron to name a few). Naturally, it has many fine-dining establishments and two gastropubs making the list are The Kingham Plough and The Wild Rabbit.
The Kingham Plough, with Emily Watkins at the helm (a former winner of Great British Menu), is a tour de force when it comes to robust, strong flavours and superb, local produce. Its delightfully eclectic menu pairs well with the pub’s classic brickwork facade and relaxing ‘pubby’ décor.
For the adventurous diner, a slow-braised oxtail with horseradish is one of the pub’s statement dishes that praises local British cuisine, while more classic plates like the venison wellington or the Tamworth confit pork belly are just as hearty and equally flavoursome – all at a similarly affordable price point. Like most gastropubs, the menu is subject to change and relies on the availability of seasonal produce, but we guarantee you’ll find something you like.
36th position: The Longs Arms, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire
The Longs Arms pub has received many awards in the past and this time being named as one of the top 50 Gastropubs in the UK has further reinforced its position as a foodie destination for comforting food in a welcoming environment. The chefs here source their meat from Aubrey Allen, an ethical, welfare-friendly supplier with a Royal Warrant. Next time when you’re visiting Bradford-on-Avon, remember to pop in for a meal.
The complete 2019 Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list:
1. The Sportsman, Seasalter, Kent 2. The Coach, Marlow, Buckinghamshire 3. Freemasons at Wiswell, Clitheroe, Lancashire 4. The Star at Harome, North Yorkshire 5. Harwood Arms, Fulham, south-west London 6. The Pony & Trap, Chew Magna, Bristol 7. The Hardwick, Abergavenny, Wales 8. The Beehive, White Waltham, Maidenhead, Berkshire 9. The Pipe and Glass Inn, South Dalton, Beverley, East Yorkshire 10. The Red Lion & Sun, Highgate, north London 11. The Staith House, North Shields, Tyne and Wear 12. The Marksman, Hackney, east London 13. The Crown, Burchett’s Green, Maidenhead, Berkshire 14. The Hand and Flowers, Marlow, Buckinghamshire 15. The Drapers Arms, Islington, north London 16. The Parkers Arms, Newton-in-Bowland, Clitheroe, Lancashire 17. The Rat Inn, Anick, Hexham, Tyne and Wear 18. The Cornish Arms, Tavistock, Devon 19. The White Swan, Fence, Burnley, Lancashire 20. The Swan, Bampton, Tiverton, Devon 21. The Compasses Inn, Crundale, Canterbury, Kent 22. The Kingham Plough, Kingham, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire 23. TheGuineaGrill, Mayfair, central London 24. St Tudy Inn, Bodmin, Cornwall 25. The Bell, Hampton Poyle, Kidlington, Oxfordshire 26. The Royal Oak Paley Street, Maidenhead, Berkshire 27. The Broad Chare, Newcastle upon Tyne 28. The Magdalen Arms, Oxford 29. The Masons Arms, FItzrovia, central London 30. The Scran & Scallie, Edinburgh 31. The Anchor & Hope, Southwark, south London 32. The Blackbird, Bagnor, Newbury, Berkshire 33. Tim Allen’s Flitch of Bacon, Little Dunmow, Essex 34. The Canton Arms, Stockwell, south London 35. The Duck Inn, Stanhoe, King’s Lynn, Norfolk 36. The Longs Arms, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire 37. The Nut Tree, Murcott, Oxfordshire 38. The Wild Rabbit, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire 39. The Beckford Arms, Fonthill Gifford, Tisbury, Wiltshire 40. The Cartford Inn, Little Eccleston, Lancashire 41. The White Post, Rimpton, Dorset/Somerset 42. The Fordwich Arms, Fordwich, Canterbury, Kent 43. The Kentish Hare, Bidborough, Tunbridge Wells, Kent 44. The Gunton Arms, Thorpe Market, Norfolk 45. The Assheton Arms, Downham, Clitheroe, Lancashire 46. The Drunken Duck, Ambleside, Cumbria 47. The Lickfold Inn, Petworth, West Sussex 48. The Oxford Blue, Old Windsor, Berkshire 49. Hero of Maida, Maida Vale, west London 50. The Angel at Hetton, Skipton, North Yorkshire