Historically, the traditional British Pub were drinking establishments that placed little to no focus on feeding its’ customers other than the usual array of bar snacks such as Salted Peanuts or Pork Scratchings. If a Pub did serve meals, often they were cold dishes such as The Ploughman’s Lunch or commonly in Londons’ East End a selection of shellfish including Mussels, Cockles and Whelks would be served to customers during the evening and at closing time. In 1991 and when David Eyre and Mike Belben take over The Eagle in Clerkenwell, London, the term “Gastropub” is coined.
Over the last two decades the definition of a traditional British pub has slowly transformed and changed, (not without criticism it has to be said) into what we now know as Gastropubs, with more emphasis than ever before on high quality food and drink, some serving dishes of such quality, that Pubs now receive prestigious Michelin Star status and in some cases, two Michelin Stars, all of which, helping to put the humble British Pub on the culinary world map.
The Gastropub sector has progressed at such a rate, that it now has it’s own award ceremony held every year in January to recognise the hard work that is going on and future stars of the industry. For the second year in a row, Tom Kerridge, who owns the world renowned Hand & Flowers in Marlow, the only Gastropub to hold 2 Michelin Stars, was asked back to present the awards. As well as the main award there were an additional 8 specialist awards up for grabs.
So, without further ado, lets find out about the winners.
Coming in at No.3 is The Star Inn owned by Chef Andrew Pern. This was one of the very first Pubs to be awarded Michelin Star status and has routinely been placed in the top 10 of the Top 50 Gastropubs in the UK since the awards began.
This years runner up is The Pipe and Glass Inn, situated in East Yorkshire, run by husband and wife team James and Kate Mackenzie, a common feature of the Gastropub. Similarly to fellow Yorkshire Chef Andrew Pern and to that of this years winner, The Pipe and Glass is also the holder of a famed Michelin Star.
Ever since entering the list in twelfth place 6years ago in 2010, The Sportsman in Kent has worked its way up the list every year, finally taking the top spot last year following two previous years in which, self-taught Stephen Harris’s Pub came runner up to Tom Kerridges’ 2 Michelin Starred, The Hand and Flowers. The quality being served at The Sportsman is second to none and with prices for a starter coming in at a measly £7, £23 for a main or a 10 course tasting menu for £65 it’s easy to see why it’s been named Best Gastropub in the UK two years in a row.
The full list as well as all the information you need to plan a visit to one of these fabulous establishments, from the address to example dishes can be found on the awards’ brand new, mobile friendly website, launched yesterday alongside the 2016 list.
If like me, you’re a fan of the super-duper Tom Kerridge, you were probably saddened to hear of The Hand and Flowers retirement from the list back in 2014 after 3 consecutive years on top. All is not lost however, because Toms’ second Pub, The Coach, also in Marlow has rocketed onto the list taking the number 4 spot in its first year earning it the Highest New Entry award sponsored by Appletiser and Schweppes. With an entrance like this, it’s not too much to wonder just where in the Top 50 The Coach will be in 364 days time and if we may well find ourselves with another Tom Kerridge establishment back on top.