The best gastropubs in the UK for 2022 have been named – and The Unruly Pig in Suffolk has claimed the No.1 spot.
The accolade was bestowed upon the inn by the prestigious Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs Awards at a ceremony in Manchester, with the ranking’s top five completed by Parkers Arms, Lancashire (second); The Star Inn, Harome, Yorkshire (third); The Angel At Hetton, Yorkshire (fourth) and Freemasons At Wiswell, Lancashire (fifth).
The Top 50 Gastropubs Awards, now in its 13th year, actually produces a top 100 list, and some may be surprised to learn that Scotland’s highest entry comes 56th – Edinburgh’s The Scran and Scallie. The top 50, presented at the Escape to Freight Island venue, is made up of gastropubs located in England and Wales.
1. The Unruly Pig, Woodbridge – Suffolk
The best gastropubs in the UK for 2022 have been named – and The Unruly Pig in Suffolk (pictured) has claimed the No.1 spot
Unruly Pig chefs Dave Wall and Karl Green (pictured on the left). Dave ‘prides himself on his locally sourced, unfussy, seasonal menus’. Pictured on the right is an example of a seafood dish that diners can look forward to at the gastropub
The judges say that The Unruly Pig is described as ‘winsome, warm and witty’, and that head chef Dave Wall ‘prides himself on his locally sourced, unfussy, seasonal menus whilst owner Brendan Padfield believes the pub’s atmosphere reflects his own personality, being a bit of a maverick’.
Brendan said: ‘For any UK gastropub, this list is the “gold standard”. It’s the business. To be a part of such a prestigious group is a huge honour and a very real privilege. There are some very famous chefs and talented operators here… and for us to be a small part of this amazing list means so very much to all our team.
‘They can rightly hold their heads up proud yet again as our listing is because of their dedication, loyalty and sheer hard graft.’
2. Parkers Arms, Clitheroe – Lancashire
The Parkers Arms in Clitheroe, Lancashire, claims the No.2 spot on the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs ranking for 2022
One of the delicious desserts served at Parkers Arms
The judges describe the Parkers Arms as ‘a historic rural inn in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty serving excellent award-winning modern British classics’.
And they surmise that it’s ‘possibly the most idyllic pub on the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list’.
The judges add: ‘The venue has maintained a position on the list for several years. Now the site sits in second place, making a strong and steady bid for the top spot. What a stunning performance.
‘It is testament to chef-patron Stosie Madi and her business partner Kathy Smith’s dedication to making their pub one of the best in the country. The pub’s isolated location works in its favour, commanding stunning views of rolling hills whether you visit in summer or winter.
‘Madi and Smith took on the Parkers Arms in 2007 and have amassed an equally adoring local and national following, with gourmands travelling on occasion the length and breadth of the country to sample Madi’s cooking.’
3. The Star Inn, Harome – Yorkshire
The Star Inn in Harome, Yorkshire, comes third in the Top 50 Gastropub ranking
Above: One of the ‘refined’ menu options at the Michelin-starred Star Inn
‘Close your eyes to picture the perfect country pub and it’s likely you’ll see the Star Inn at Harome, North Yorkshire,’ the judges say.
The pub has held a place on the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list since its inception over a decade ago, taking the top spot on more than one occasion over the years. Impressively, it also holds a Michelin star.
The judges say: ‘The Star’s name has become synonymous across the country with a dedication to fine produce and playful but refined cooking.
‘Accommodation accolades are well deserved and representative of the Star’s distinct, sophisticated, yet comfortable style.’
The pub was sadly hit by a catastrophic fire in November but the judges say that chef-patron Andrew Pern ‘has vowed the business will rise from the ashes shortly’.
4. The Angel At Hetton – Yorkshire
The Angel At Hetton, Yorkshire, comes fourth in the ranking. High on its list of priorities is ‘delivering top nosh’
An example of the amazing food at The Angel At Hetton
The one-Michelin-starred Angel offers pub food reimagined in a cosy environment that looks out across stunning landscapes, the judges say.
They continue: ‘High on the venue’s list of priorities, as well as delivering top nosh, is providing you, the diner, with the best service in the industry.
‘The pub rocketed up the Top 50 Gastropubs 2020 list from 50th spot in 2019 to 11th, making it 2020’s Highest Climber. This year it has risen again, taking fourth place and eyeing the top spot.’
5. Freemasons At Wiswell – Lancashire
Freemasons At Wiswell, Lancashire, completes the top five in the Top 50 Gastropub list
One of the ‘outstanding dishes’ at Freemasons At Wiswell
‘Lancashire is filled with outstanding gastropubs,’ say the judges, ‘and the Freemasons at Wiswell is one of the top venues in the region.’
They continue: ‘Owned by Steven Smith, this elegant gastropub is deserving of its position among the top 10, which it has held for several years now. This year the pub has pushed its way back into the top five, having dipped into sixth place in 2020 for the first time in years.
‘As well as serving many outstanding dishes, Smith has launched an accommodation offering and his own spin on a chef’s table following a big refurb and revamp of the business, which was completed in 2019.
‘Food at the Freemasons is all about contrast – experimental meeting traditional. Smith fuses locally sourced ingredients and his love of the classics with wild, sharp world flavours.’
6. The Sportsman, Seasalter – Kent
Sportsman chef-patron Stephen Harris is obsessed with terroir – the idea that a restaurant’s menu should religiously reflect its surrounding geography
Above: The locally-sourced food at The Sportsman, which has made the list five times since 2015
The Sportsman, which has made the list five times since 2015, is nestled in the village of Seasalter.
The judges say: ‘Sportsman chef-patron Stephen Harris is obsessed with terroir – the idea that a restaurant’s menu should religiously 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.’
The judges say that the self-taught chef ‘picks seaweed from The Sportsman’s adjoining beach, makes his own salt from the sea, and uses meat from the bountiful farms of the Seasalter area’. They add that the chef’s slip sole grilled in seaweed butter ‘is famous and a must-try for any visitor’.
7. The Guinea Grill – London
Meat is an important part of the Guinea Grill’s menu, according to the awards, and ‘only the finest beef is used’
Meat is an important part of the Guinea Grill’s menu
‘This Mayfair-based gastropub is an institution and has stood since at least 1423 in the same spot and has witnessed the London we’re familiar with today develop around it.’
So say the judges of The Guinea Grill, a gastropub that ‘everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime’.
Meat is an important part of the Guinea Grill’s menu, according to the awards, and ‘only the finest beef is used, including the “Champagne” of beef – Scotch beef’. As for dessert, the pub dishes up ‘well-made classics, including bread and butter pudding; sticky toffee pudding; and chocolate mousse’.
8. The Fordwich Arms – Canterbury
The Fordwich Arms, Canterbury, comes eighth in the ranking. Inside are ‘tastefully decorated rooms’ and outside views of the River Stour
Above: One of The Fordwich Arms’ tasty dishes
This is the first time that The Fordwich Arms, set in Britain’s smallest town, has made the top 10 list and Chef-patron Daniel Smith has been central to the gastropub’s culinary successes.
The judges say: ‘Dishes you’re likely to see on the a la carte menu have included rock oysters for snacks, raw Orkney scallop with apple, kohlrabi and vadouvan spices for starters and roast saddle of Chart Farm Sika venison with chestnut, celeriac and spiced fig for main, with many more dishes to select from.’
On the terrace, guests can enjoy views of the River Stour, and inside, they’ll find ‘tastefully decorated rooms that bring together tradition with light modern touches’.
9. The Mariners, Rock – Cornwall
This establishment is run by celebrity chef Paul Ainsworth and is described as a ‘must-visit’ for staycationers and overseas visitors
The Mariners has food that ‘puts a smile on your face’
Described as a ‘must-visit gastropub for staycationers and international tourists alike’, this establishment is run by celebrity chef Paul Ainsworth.
‘The pub has a simple motto which, in short, is to provide guests with warm and happy memories, driven by food that puts a smile on your face alongside drinks that put a spring in your step,’ say the judges.
Diners can expect to see the likes of Philip Warren & Son 40-day-aged 800g rib of beef (for two) on the main lunch and dinner menu – and the Dogs Pollock crisp pollock hotdog is said to ‘hit the spot’.
10. The Hand & Flowers, Marlow – Buckinghamshire
Two-Michelin-starred The Hand & Flowers, Marlow, comes 10th on the list
The dishes at The Hand & Flowers are mini works of art, as these two pictures above show. Renowned chef-owner Tom Kerridge is in charge of the grub
The Hand & Flowers, Tom Kerridge’s first pub, is the only pub in the UK with two Michelin stars. Describing the establishment, which opened in 2005, the judges say: ‘After more than a decade, The Hand & Flowers is still a proper pub with proper food. It is friendly, comfortable and relaxing.’
According to the judges, dishes that diners can expect to find on the menu include duck liver parfait with orange chutney and toasted brioche; Brittany guinea fowl breast with poultry tart, poppy seed turnips, almond butter, tempura fillet and pear ketchup; and The Hand & Flowers chocolate and ale cake with Pedro Ximenez and Rebellion Beer ice cream.
They add: ‘Guests who don’t want to journey home after visiting The Hand & Flowers can take advantage of the gastropub’s 11 bedrooms, situated in cottages nearby.’
THE ESTRELLA DAMM TOP 100 GASTROPUBS 2022 RANKING, FROM SUFFOLK TO YORKSHIRE
1. The Unruly Pig, Woodbridge
2. Parkers Arms, Clitheroe
3. The Star Inn at Harome, Harome
4. The Angel at Hetton, Hetton
5. Freemasons at Wiswell, Clitheroe
6. The Sportsman, Whitstable
7. The Guinea Grill, London
8. The Fordwich Arms, Canterbury
9. The Mariners, Rock
10. The Hand & Flowers, Marlow
11. The Beehive, White Waltham
12. The Kentish Hare, Bidborough
13. The Coach, Marlow
14. The Cornish Arms, Tavistock
15. The Harwood Arms, London
16. The Red Lion and Sun, London
17. The Pyne Arms, Barnstaple
18. The Rat Inn, Anick
19. The Broad Chare, Newcastle Upon Tyne
20. The Hardwick, Abergavenny
21. The Bull & Last, London
22. The Masons Arms, Knowstone
23. The Pipe and Glass, Beverley
24. The Longs Arms, South Wraxall
25. The Swan, Bampton
26. The White Swan at Fence, Fence
27. The Loch and The Tyne, Old Windsor
28. The Duncombe Arms, Ashbourne
29. The French House, Soho
30. The Moorcock, Norland Moor
31. The Shibden Mill Inn, Shibden
32. The Pack Horse, Hayfield
33. Heft, High Newton
34. The Felin Fach Griffin, Brecon
35. The Five Bells Inn, Cullompton
36. St Kew Inn, Bodmin
37. The Castle Inn, Castle Combe
38. The Canton Arms, Stockwell
39. The Higher Buck, Waddington
40. The Duck Inn, Pett Bottom
41. The Hovingham Inn, Yorkshire
42. The Plough, Coton
43. The Three Hills, Bartlow
44. The Hind’s Head, Bray
45. The Dog at Wingham, Wingham
46. The Bell Inn, Langford
47. The Black Bear Inn, Usk
48. The Cadeleigh Arms, Tiverton
49. The Bailiwick Free House, Egham
50. The Cross, Kenilworth
51. The White Post, Rimpton Hill
52. The Miller of Mansfield, Reading
53. The Eagle, Farringdon
54. The Greyhound, Beaconsfield
55. The Duck Inn, King’s Lynn
56. The Scran and Scallie, Edinburgh
57. The Parlour, London
58. The Nut Tree Inn, Murcott
59. The Chadwicks Inn, Maltby
60. The Greyhound on the Test, Stockbridge
61. The Quality Chop House, London
62. Duck & Rice, London
63. The Charlton Arms, Ludlow
64. The Boat Inn, Lichfield
65. The Gunton Arms, Norwich
66. The Tolcarne Inn, Penzance
67. The Drapers Arms, London
68. The Cartford Inn, Lancashire
69. The Marksman, London
70. The Meynell Ingram Arms, Burton on Trent
71. The Anchor & Hope, London
72. The Potting Shed, Crudwell
73. The Roebuck Inn, Knutsford
74. The Olive Branch, Rutland
75. The Blind Bull, Buxton
76. The Kingham Plough, Chipping Norton
77. The Port Gaverne Hotel, Cornwall
78. The Thomas Lord, Near Petersfield
79. The Magdalen Arms, Oxford
80. The Kensington Arms, Bristol
81. The Ship Inn, Elie
82. The Neptune, Norfolk
83. The Admiral Codrington, London
84. The Hare Inn, Near Hemsley
85. The Wellington Arms, Sandhurst
86. The Camberwell Arms, London
87. The Urchin, Hove
88. The Bridge Arms, Canterbury
89. The Angel at Watlington, King’s Lynn
90. The Bath Arms, Longleat
91. The Bricklayers Arms, Hemel Hempstead
92. The Pig and Butcher, London
93. The Bonnie Badger, Gullane
94. The Smokehouse, London
95. The Cotley Inn, Chard
96. The Mole & Chicken, Long Crendon
97. The Anglesea Arms, London
98. The Stag and Hounds, Burrough on the Hill
99. The Thomas Cubitt, London
100. The Sandpiper Inn, Leyburn
The full list is online at www.top50gastropubs.com.