Top 50 gastropubs revealed
The annual reveal of the country's best gastropubs is here! Want to know where to head for a meal out? Here are the pubs that made the grade (can you guess which Glos gastro-beaut got in?) phones at the ready to bag your table, find out here.
The hospitality industry’s been battered by the pandemic, so once again this year’s gongs for gastropub greatness feel more than just a pat of the back for an exceptional triple-cooked chip. It’s also been about their drive to survive. So, the timing of The Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropub Awards could not be more timely.
The judges (the UK’s top foodies and pub pros) have scoffed and quaffed between closures to bring you the best of the best – and, we’re delighted to say that Glos has made it in with one! (what! just one? we hear you gasp!).
Organised by the Publican’s Morning Advertiser, The Top 50 Gastropub shortlist really matters in the foodie pub world, as it celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit of the great British pub that serves awesome grub. The top spot was taken by The Unruly Pig in Woodbridge, Suffolk, btw, with the other spots in the top five up country in Yorkshire and Lancashire.
And those generous guys and gals at Estrella Damm have this year decided to name 100 pubs instead of the usual 50.
Read on for who won, and others to visit just a hop and slip over the border, we’ll race you to the table.
Drum roll please for the Glos winner…
The Bell Inn, Langford (no.45)
Run by born and bred Cotswold gents Peter Creed and Tom Noest, the Bell Inn Langford (find it slap bang on the Glos/Ox border near Burford) focuses on good simple pub grub. Expect an earthy modern country pub feel, showcasing the duo’s love for a classic British menu with the addition of wood-fired dishes and an extensive drinks menu, all with a great vibe and ambiance. Seasonal menus are ever-changing, sourced from local game dealers, farmers and fishmongers. Showstoppers include venison faggots, Barrington partridge and salt pig saucisson (fancy!). But the pub also serves up a good pizza and steak offering too. We reckon book ahead after this ringing endorsement.
And just o’er the border…
The Longs Arms, Bradford-upon-Avon, Wiltshire (no. 24)
The Longs Arms in South Wraxall, Bradford-on-Avon, is a beautiful country pub filled with seasonal food that is served in a relaxed environment. The pub shot up the list last year, soaring from number 40 in 2020 and has remained in the top 25 for another year. A real award-winner and worth a visit, meat is sourced from Aubrey Allen – an ethical, welfare friendly, traceable and fair-trade supplier with a Royal Warrant.
The Castle Inn, Castle Coombe, Wiltshire (no.37)
This village is Insta-catnip and worth a visit on its own (it’s always on TV and in films), but now there’s another reason to go.
A true English inn, the hub of the pub has an open fire, warm atmosphere and table service, offering delicious food throughout the day and evening. The Terrace Patio provides alfresco dining for those fine days. Specialising in a range of local beers, the homemade pub fare is worth a detour, including classic Sunday roasts and traditional pub favourites.
The Cross, Kenilworth, Warwickshire
Situated in the historic town of Kenilworth, the Cross operates under chef director Adam Bennett and has held a Michelin star for over six years, along with three AA Rosettes and received a Good Food Award Gold Seal in 2021. The pub’s main dining room is a former school room and leads to the bar which was previously a butcher’ shop! The menu reflects the changing seasons and comes from local farms. Expect dishes including Cornish crab soup with fennel, butter fried brioche and dressed crab; crispy duck egg with celeriac, mushrooms, parsley, cep sabayon, Berkswell cheese and winter purslane.
The Potting Shed, Malmesbury (no.72)
Menus at the pub, which Tom Parker Bowles hailed as “one of the best pub lunches had for years”, feature a plethora of the finest locally sourced ingredients and seasonal produce. You can start with a charcuterie board that consists of saucisson, fennel salami, pork rosette, caperberries, cornichons and sourdough toast.
Moving on to mains, a feast awaits including a blade of beer with Bourguignon sauce, braised red cabbage, horseradish mash and carrots or 16oz Chateaubriand for two with French fries, watercress, Bearnaise or peppercorn sauce and a choice of sides.
The Kingham Plough, Oxfordshire (no.76)
Hospitality operators Matt and Katie Beamish took over this village pub with bedrooms from chef patron and Great British Menu winner Emily Watkins. The pub is based near Chipping Norton, expect here modern British dishes with Mediterranean influences from head chef, Jonny Pons. Dishes on the sample menu include Cornish Moules Mariniere and fries, as well as roasted butternut squash risotto, chestnuts, pearl onion, Paris brown and parmesan. Another crowd-pleaser is the pan roast cod, served with spinach, gnocchi, cauliflower, bacon and cabbage and gremolata.
The Magdalen Arms, Oxford (no. 79)
A stone’s throw away from the historic city of Oxford, The Magdalen Arms offers guests a chance to enjoy classic gastropub dishes. On the menu, mains have included: slow cooked lamb shoulder, dauphinoise gratin and pickled red cabbage while seafood fans can enjoy a pan-fried sea trout, with puy lentils, tender stem broccoli, beurre blanc. Other dishes included a pheasant, bacon, chestnuts and crème fraiche pie for two.
The Kensington Arms, Bristol (no.80)
Going Brizzle way? Head here. Head chefs Oscar Davis and Josh Eggleton are always working hard to update and adapt their menu with seasonal dishes, locally sourced from South-West suppliers. Menu highlights have included a crispy lamb belly dish, served with pickled peppers, gem lettuce, broad bean and chilli pesto, as well as a monkfish curry, served with pilaf, salsa, yoghurt roasted cauliflower, rarebit, baby leeks, roasted cauliflower puree and a green herb dressing.