Whether it's a cosy Saturday night date or you’re setting up camp for a long Sunday roast, there are plenty of charming pubs scattered all over the UK offering the best in gastronomic cuisine. And to know which ones are really worth a visit, the awards for the best gastro pubs in the country have been revealed, as voted for by industry experts including food writers, chefs and pub guide editors. From countryside haunts to chic city hangouts, here are the top ten gastropubs to put on your radar.
The Star Inn, York
Coming in at number one is Yorkshire’s thatched village favourite, The Star Inn – a Michelin-starred restaurant in the picturesque village of Harome on the edge of the North Yorkshire, which promises a refined yet playful menu of flavourful British classics, all locally sourced and with a focus on seasonal produce. Highlights on the menu include Chef-patron Andrew Pern’s best-known dish, which he describes as the epitome of his “rich man, poor man” style: seared foie gras teamed with rich black pudding, doused in a sticky scrumpy cider reduction. Save room for the Yorkshire Dales “Galloway” beef tartare with smoked bacon, HP ripple ice cream and fried bread ‘sprinkles’, and the steamed spice pineapple sponge with cinder toffee, rum and raisin ice cream.
Main St, Harome, near Helmsley, Yorkshire
The Sportsman, Kent
This critically acclaimed Kent coastal hot spot has held a Michelin star since 2008, and although it might not look much from the outside, the food is exceptionally good. And the best bit: it comes without the hefty price tag. Sportsman Chef-patron Stephen Harris is “obsessed” with Terroir – the idea that a restaurant’s menu should reflect its surrounding geography, history and produce – and as such, produce served at the Sportsman is sourced almost exclusively from the land surrounding the pub. Look forward to roast saddle of Monkshill farm lamb with mint sauce; thornback ray with brown butter, razor clams and sherry vinegar dressing; and braised brill fillet with mussel and bacon tartare. Desserts include dark chocolate and salted caramel tart with vanilla ice cream; apple soufflé with salted caramel ice cream; and Jasmine tea junket with rosehip syrup and breakfast crunch. And don’t forget to try Harris’s famous slip sole grilled in seaweed butter.
Faversham Rd, Seasalter, Whitstable, Kent
The Pony & Trap, Bristol
Michelin-starred and with a field-to-fork ethos, Bristol dwellers and food lovers from all over the UK flock in their droves to this gastro Somerset boozer. Brother and sister duo Josh and Holly Eggleton offer an ever-changing menu that focuses on classic British cooking and locally sourced produce. With a mix of high-end tasting menus and quirky takes on traditional pub grub, choose from stuffed savoy cabbage with puy lentils, polenta and artichoke; neck, fillet and glazed cheek of Blagdon pork with apple and kale; and hot white chocolate fondant with burnt apple and cinnamon.
Chew Magna, Knowle Hill, Bristol
Freemasons at Wiswell, Lancashire
Promising fabulous, fancy food in the cosiest of settings, Freemasons at Wiswell is one of Lancashire’s finest. Food here is all about contrast – experimental meets traditional fusing locally-sourced ingredients with wild, sharp flavours. Tuck into foie gras with beer vinegar, blackberry and smoked eel; roast loin and kofta of Nidderdale lamb with BBQ gem lettuce, miso aubergine, mint and yoghurt; or butter-poached native lobster tail with crispy claw wontons, wild blueberry, coastal herbs and black pepper sauce. Save room for either the creamy rice pudding baked with vanilla, blackberry, sake and buttermilk ice cream or the dark chocolate with banana, black sesame and yuzu.
8 Vicarage Fold, Wiswell, Clitheroe, Lancashire
The Coach, Marlow
Tom Kerridge’s second Marlow outpost has a strict no-bookings policy, but if you can’t face waiting a year to book into his famed, flagship restaurant The Hand and Flowers, it’s more than worth chancing a visit to this lesser-known bistro-style hangout. The food is phenomenal, and with a much more palatable price tag. Choose from a range of small, tapas-style dishes – sharing style, or order something altogether more indulgent like the towering Coach burger with smoked brisket and West Country cheddar; sea bream fillet with braised leeks and parmesan velouté; chicken kiev with cauliflower cheese; or mushroom “risotto” Claude Bosi.
3 West St, Marlow
The Harwood Arms, London
As London’s only Michelin-starred pub, expect big things from The Harwood Arms. The only London pub to make the top ten line-up, Fulham’s famed pub has become a bit of an institution on the London dining scene. Boasting a British-inspired gastro menu with classics including black pudding Scotch egg with wild garlic and asparagus and roast Suffolk duck breast with carrots cooked in hay, black cabbage and blood orange, The Harwood will satisfy even the heartiest of appetites. But what’s more, they offer a set-menu for both lunch and dinner priced at £35.50 for two courses and £42.50 for three courses. A bargain without the Michelin star, and a steal with one.
Walham Grove, Fulham, London
The Beehive, Berkshire
Nestled away in the tiny village of White Waltham – just a short drive from Maidenhead – this charming pub, which overlooks the cricket ground, is a popular haunt amongst the locals, for its award-winning food selection and quaint, cosy setting. Head chef and owner Dominic Chapman – who was a contestant on BBC 2’s Great British Menu – serves up a simple, modern menu of comfort food classics, including wild mushroom, stilton, onion and red pepper tart with dandelion salad; lasagne of wild rabbit with wood blewits and chervil; roast English partridge with chipolata sausage, bread sauce, game chips and gravy; and lemon drizzle cake with raspberries and yoghurt ice cream.
Waltham Road, White Waltham, Berkshire
The Butcher’s Arms, Gloucestershire
Praised for “succeeding in a county which is notoriously difficult for restaurateurs to conquer”, James and Elizabeth Winter opened The Butcher’s Arms with nothing in mind but a simple countryside boozer, where locals could meet to have a pint after work. Perhaps that’s why it’s done so well. The daily, ever-changing menu makes use of seasonal produce, with sample dishes including Cornish fish soup with home-smoked cod and monkfish; grilled octopus with pork dumpling and honey roasted pork belly; and middle white pork faggots and onions with black pudding, crispy polenta and pea purée.
Lime St, Eldersfield, Gloucester
The Pipe & Glass, East Yorkshire
Country pubs don’t come much better than this South Dalton gem, which promises a hearty menu of British classics including locally shot game, freshly caught seafood and ginormous Barnsley chops. Famed for its friendly atmosphere and charming setting, locals flock here to sample the superlative fare. Despite winning a Michelin star, there’s nothing pretentious about James and Kate Mackenzie’s pared back Yorkshire tavern – just delicious food and award-winning wine at remarkably good prices. Tuck into slow-cooked crispy shoulder of lamb with mutton and kidney faggot, lamb belly boulangere, butternut squash, redcurrants and barley; Yorkshire game and pistachio terrine with pickled pear, raisins, mulled wine jelly, pistachio crisps and game tea; and braised onion with mushroom and cheddar rarebit with leeks, smoked baby onions, hazelnuts and soubise cream. The pub also has a selection of luxuriously designed boutique hotel rooms, should you want to make a weekend of it.
West End, South Dalton, Beverley, East Yorkshire
The Crown, Berkshire
The small bar at The Crown is usually filled with local drinkers, but walk through to the back of the pub and you’ll find two intimate dining rooms where you can indulge in a decadent gastro spread. The Crown’s chef and owner Simon Bonwick says “whatever makes me laugh and whatever makes me happy is what you’ll find on the menu”, so expect to see an array of tasty, seasonal creations including braised Highland deer ‘Popped In A Pie’ with rowanberry Sauce; rillette of Sanglier ‘Wild Boar’ with beer pickles; and treacle sponge like when you were little.
Burchetts Green, Maidenhead, Berkshire