If there is something better than the traditional English pub, where you can enjoy having a pint of beer with friends and family, it is the gastro pub – a relatively new invention, where the art of beer drinking mixes with the art of cooking into a match made in heaven. There are dozens of gastro pubs all over the UK. There have become the preferred place for a night out not only for people living around them but also to visitors to the respective cities and international tourists. The gastro pub, in many respects, combines all that is good about Britain, as well as the very essence of the English spirit.
The prestigious Best 50 Gastro Pubs in England competition was sponsored by Estella Damm and the award is one of the most respected in the industry. The decision which the best gastro pubs in the country are is made by owners of such establishments (naturally they cannot vote for their own restaurants), food writers, , pubco catering development managers and executive chefs, celebrity and top hospitality industry chefs, pub guide editors, industry chiefs and food operators among others. It is truly an industry award, and you can count on the fact that all the establishments that are to be found on the list of the award are of truly exquisite quality and one that you will not regret choosing. Imagine how good you are going to feel after a long day at managing your home relocation, with a company with an extensive removal branch network in London by your side, if you find out that there is a nice little gastro pub around the corner where you can unwind. Or if you can bring your friends from out of town there for a nice night out. The opportunities are countless.
Interestingly enough, no London based restaurants are currently finding their way in the top 5 gastro pubs in the country, though many are included on lowers rankings in the list.
- At Number 1 is no other but the famous Stephen Harris’s Michelin-starred The Sportsman in Whitestable, Kent. At first sight the untrained eye might not notice anything out of the ordinary here – The Sportsman resembles pretty much your everyday pub, but one cannot be more wrong about it. The Sportsman has entered the 50 Best List in 2010 at the 12th position and since then it has been steadily climbing several positions at a time until the honourable first one was reached. The menu was designed following the traditions of the surrounding area. Chef Harris is making his own butter, salt and bread, and uses produce from local farms. One of the best dishes on the menu is definitely the Monks Hill lamb and turbot (or brill, depending on the day’s catch) braised in Vin Jaune with crispy pork belly.
- The Pipe and Glass, East Yorkshire comes at the second place. It is being managed by husband and wife James and Kate Mackenzie. The place is designed in the best traditions of the English north. It is cozy, with friendly staff and mouthwatering kitchen, not to mention the rich choice of brews that one is opened to once entering the establishment. Even though it has been continuously voted as one of the best gastro pubs in the country in the past several years, the Pipe and Glass is also proud of being among the most accessible establishments too – it would cost you between 20 and 30 pounds per person to enjoy even the most elaborate dishes on the menu, which is a bargain however you choose to look at it.
- The Star Inn is located in a historical 14th century building in Harome, York which makes wining and dining with friends here a really great experience. It is one of the best places to visit during game season. The Two Chefs beer, the house brand, goes with nearly anything that you can try as food here, so do not miss your chance to ask for a pint of that. The good news is that the owners of the Star Inn opened a second establishment, the Star Inn the City in York, which offers a more laid back and casual experience but it is still worth checking out if you have the time and the energy for it.
- The Coach in Marlow, Buckinghamshire comes fourth this year, which is quite interesting, because last year this pub was not on the list. That fact alone should speak volumes about the quality of the improvements that were made by owner and chef extraordinaire Tom Kerridge. Actually, the Coach was developed on the premises of an old Chinese Restaurant, which Kerridge spent a year renovating and improving so that it becomes a place that is worthy of his clients. The head chef here is not the owner, but of his star pupils, chef Nick Beardshaw, who offers a menu “of small, tapas-style dishes including probably the best chicken Kiev in the country, which is served with a creamy cauliflower cheese.”. If that sounds like something you might be interested in, make sure to check out the place.
- Most people think about country pubs when they hear about an English Public House, and fortunately, there is a gastro pub in the top 5 that is entirely up to the image, character and atmosphere of the old time, cozy country pub. That is of course the Pony and Trap, which was opened by duo Josh and Holly Eggleton – brother and sister, in Somerset. Josh is the chef, while Holly is the manager, both dedicated to their respective responsibilities, which is probably the reason why Pony and Trap has a Michelin star rating since 2011. Here you will find a perfect balance between the efforts for customer satisfaction and comfort, mixed with Josh’s devotion to British cooking and locally made produce. There is no fixed menu, because the dishes offered daily change in accordance to the produce that is available at the present moment.