Interview

How did the North fare in the Top 50 Gastropubs list 2020?

NORTHERN restaurants made up almost half the top ten in Monday’s announcement of the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastro Pubs 2020.

The awards are well respected in the industry as the winners are decided by peers and experts in the field. Food critics, hospitality professionals and chefs from all over the UK vote in their hundreds to put together this list of the ultimate pubs with the most impressive grub. 

And of course, several of our own Top 100 feature in this year’s list.

“Northern pubs make up just under a quarter of the list, holding 11 of the top 50 spots.”

Steven Smith’s Freemasons at Wiswell, Lancashire was the highest rated gastropub in the north maintaining its very respectable No.3. position. Recently refurbed to provide beautiful animal-themed rooms, The Freemasons is a firm favourite of several of the Confidentials team – it’s also in the top ten of our Top 100 restaurants in the North. Lancastrian Steve’s cooking is rooted in the traditional recipes of his home county while cleverly flirting with world flavours.  

Current menu highlights include Herdwick lamb kebab cooked yakitori style with miso aubergine, mint & yoghurt or salt aged duck breast & leg meat spring roll, puree & spiced January King cabbage with rhubarb hoisin. Essential eating always is Steve’s outrageous lamb fat brioche.

The Star Inn in the pretty village of Harome near Helmsley in North Yorkshire is No.4 in the list having maintained its top-five position for over 20 years. Chef-patron Andrew Pern is well-loved by the locals – there’s even a special menu named for them – and he prides himself in rustling up beautiful dishes using ‘God’s own produce’ from the Yorkshire larder. 

Back in Lancs, Stosie Madi’s Parkers Arms continues to rise having shot up the list from 48th to 13th in 2017 and now parked at No.7 in 2020. Another Confidentials’ favourite at 15 in our Top 100 restaurants in the North. We love this unpretentious pub with its perfect pies and endlessly creative menus that make use of the glorious bounty that the surrounding Newton in Bowland has to offer. 

Endlessly modest, Northcote alumni Tom Parker at The White Swan at Fence has been showered with attention since bagging a Michelin star back in 2018 (maintained in 2019). It’s the fourth northern restaurant in the top ten, swanning in at No.9 having moved up the ranks ten spots since it first joined the list in 2018. It’s also one of the more affordable options on the list with two courses for just £20 and three for £25.

Northern British pubs make up just under a quarter of the list with 11 of the top 50 spots. Apart from the four pubs in the top ten, there are three in the top twenty: The Angel at Hetton – the highest climber at 11, The Staith House in North Shields (13) and The Rat Inn (15) in Northumberland. The rest of the list includes The Pipe and Glass Inn, Dalton (24), The Black Bull Sedbergh (26), The Broad Chare, Quayside, Newcastle Upon Tyne (30) and Shibden Mill Inn, Halifax (41).

That list in full

1 – The Harwood Arms, Fulham, London

2 – The Sportsman, Seasalter, Kent

3 – The Freemasons, Wiswell, Lancashire

4 – The Star Inn, Harome, York

5 – The Coach, Marlowe, Buckinghamshire

6 – The Compasses Inn, Canterbury, Kent

7 – The Parkers Arms, Clitheroe, Lancashire

8 – The Pony and Trap, Chew Magna, Bristol

9 – The White Swan at Fence, Burnley, Lancashire

10 – The Guinea Grill, Mayfair, London

11 – The Angel at Hetton, Skipton, Yorkshire

12 – The Hand and Flowers, Marlowe, Buckinghamshire

13 – The Staith House, North Shields, Northumberland

14 – The Marksman, Hackney, London

15 – The Rat Inn, Hexham, Northumberland

16 – The Cornish Arms, Tavistock, Devon

17 – The Fordwich Arms, Canterbury, Kent

18 – The Crown at Burchetts Green, Maidenhead, Berkshire

19 – The Hardwick in Abergavenny, Wales

20 – The Boat Inn, Lichfield, Staffordshire

21 – The Red Lion and Sun, Highgate, London

22 – The Drapers Arms, Islington, London

23 – The Mariners, Rock, North Cornwall

24 – The Pipe and Glass, South Dalton, East Yorkshire

25 – The Beehive, Maidenhead, Berkshire

26 – The Black Bull, Sedburgh, Cumbria

27 – The Olive Branch, Clipsham, Rutland

28 – The Kentish Hare, Tunbridge Wells, Kent

29 – The Unruly Pig, Woodbridge, Suffolk

30 – The Broad Chare, Quayside, Newcastle

31 – The Swan, Bampton, Devon

32 – Tim Allen’s Flitch of Bacon, Little Dunmow, Essex

33 – St Tudy Inn, Bodmin, Cornwall

34 – The White Horse, Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk

35 – The Canton Arms, Stockwell, London

36 – The Oxford Blue, Windsor, Berkshire

37 – Scran and Scallie, Stockbridge, Edinburgh

38 – Anchor and Hope, Waterloo, London

39 – The French House, Soho, London

40 – The Longs Arms, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire

41 – The Shibden Mill, Fold, Halifax

42 – The Wild Rabbit, Kingham, Oxfordshire

43 – The Charlton Arms, Ludlow, Shropshire

44 – The White Post, Yeovil, Somerset

45 – The Gunton Arms, Norwich, Norfolk

46 – The Royal Oak Paley Street, Maidenhead, Berkshire

47 – The Bell in Langford, near Burford

48 – The Cadeleigh Arms, Cadleigh, Tiverton

49 – The Dog at Wingham, Canterbury, Kent

50 – The Five Bells Inn, Cullompton, Devon

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