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The UK’s top 50 gastropubs announced at 10-year anniversary celebration

By LLM Reporters on 3rd February 2019

The UK’s best pub chefs, many of whom hold Michelin stars, gathered this week to celebrate their positions on the ultimate list of food pubs and to recognise 10 years of the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs awards.

Topping the list for the fourth year in a row was Stephen Harris’s Michelin-starred Sportsman in Seasalter, Kent. Harris is a self-taught chef who abandoned a high-flying career in the City to open his self-proclaimed “grotty boozer by the sea”.

The relaxed and informal pub near Whitstable on the North Sea is known for serving the freshest oysters and fish, as well as growing some of its own ingredients in their small kitchen garden.

Stephen Harris’s Michelin-starred Sportsman in Seasalter, Kent
Stephen Harris’s Michelin-starred Sportsman in Seasalter, Kent took the top spot

Celebrity chef Tom Kerridge, who cooked the celebratory lunch on the day of the awards, has two pubs on this year’s list, both Michelin-starred and in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. The Coach, taking second place, and the Hand & Flowers which came in at number fourteen in the round up of award-winning gastropubs compiled by the beer of Barcelona, Estrella Damm, and William Reed.

The Coach is a sleek modern bistro-style pub that sits just down the road from Kerridge’s double Michelin-starred pub the Hand & Flowers in Marlow – it is a force to be reckoned with and was awarded its own Michelin star in 2017.

Lancashire pub the Freemasons at Wiswell, Clitheroe, headed by Steven Smith, rose one spot into the top three (third place) for the first time, having maintained a position among the top five for several years.

Tom Kerridge preparing the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs awards lunch
Celebrity chef Tom Kerridge, who cooked the celebratory lunch on the day of the awards, has two pubs on this year’s list

Many of the pubs on the list have been firm features since Top 50 Gastropubs’ inception 10 years ago. This includes Andrew Pern’s Michelin-starred the Star Inn at Harome, on the edge of the North Yorkshire moors, which ranked number one in 2017.

Awards for Front of House Team of the Year and Newcomer of the Year were awarded to the Punch Bowl Inn, Kendal, Cumbria and the Boat Inn, Lichfield, Staffordshire respectively.

James Healey, UK Country Manager for Estrella Damm, said: “As the authentic premium beer of Barcelona, brewed using only local and natural ingredients, Estrella Damm is proud to continue its support of the UK’s gastropubs as they are creating new and exciting menus with the same focus on quality and innovation as us. We extend our congratulations to all 50 pubs on the list – they are at the top of their game and look forward to what their chefs will come up with next.”

The Pony and Trap in Chew Magna took sixth spot. Image credit Jon Craig

Editor of the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs, Nicholas Robinson, added: “Gastropubs are an example of everything that is great about the UK food and drink scene. It is something no one else in the world can do as well as we do in Britain. As a result, the pubs on the list are envied by so many because of the innovation and skill within them.

“Real gastropubs offer unique experiences while remaining focal points within communities. They are very special places to be. Gastropubs are unique for many reasons, mainly because they blur the lines between pubs and restaurants, yet maintain the charm and atmosphere of a traditional pub.

“There’s something phenomenal happening in gastropubs up and down the country, they are growing and maintaining that growth where chains and other restaurants are failing. We see this every year on the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list, which provides hundreds of thousands of consumers with an idea of where to dine out wherever they are in the country.”

The Harwood Arms in Fulham holds a coveted Michelin star

Publisher Chris Lowe said: “The list’s popularity has grown among consumers looking for great food in a relaxed environment. Last year, we added a feature on to help people find a gastropub near them, and this year we are adding a booking engine from Quandoo to make the process to find and check availability even easier. This helps drive more people to experience the incredible cuisine those on the list create.

“We now have a tradition that one of the chefs from the list creates the awards menu and cooks on the day, making the event something really special to attend. We are delighted Tom Kerridge and his team are doing it this year on the 10th birthday of the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs awards.”

The 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.) The Guinea Grill, 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