The best gastropubs in the UK for 2023 have been named – and Parkers Arms in Lancashire has snapped up the number-one spot.
The award was handed to the Newton-In-Bowland eatery by the prestigious Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs Awards at a ceremony at The Unruly Pig in Woodbridge, Suffolk – last year’s number one and this year’s silver medal winner. The ranking’s top five is completed by Freemasons at Wiswell in Wiswell, Lancashire (third); The Sportsman in Seasalter, Kent (fourth), and The Kentish Hare in Tunbridge Wells, Kent (fifth).
This year, Scotland’s highest entry, Edinburgh’s The Scran and Scallie, ranks 38th, while Wales’ top-performing pub, The Felin Fach Griffin in Brecon, comes 30th. Below is the lowdown on the mouthwatering top 10. Scroll to the very bottom to see the ranking in full, which lists a grand total of 100 pubs…
1. Parkers Arms, Newton-In-Bowland – Lancashire
The best gastropubs in the UK for 2023 have been named by the prestigious Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs Awards – and Parkers Arms (above) in Lancashire is number one
The judges say that you can expect ‘plates of food served with the intention of filling you up’ at Parkers Arms
Rising in the ranks from second place to first, Parkers Arms is described as a ‘little gem’ that ‘takes pride in sourcing local produce from the very best suppliers’.
What’s on the menu? The judges say that you can expect ‘plates of food served with the intention of filling you up’ paired with local cask ales and a wine list that ‘caters equally to cheerful lunches or long, indulgent suppers’.
Female-owned, the pub is headed up by Kathy Smith and Stosie Madi, and lies ‘deep within’ the Lancashire Hills.
The judges note that it’s ‘possibly the most idyllic pub’ on the list, adding that its ‘isolated location works in its favour, commanding stunning views of rolling hills whether you visit in summer or winter’.
2. The Unruly Pig, Woodbridge – Suffolk
Landing in second place, Suffolk’s The Unruly Pig is housed in a 16th-century inn with ‘beams, crooked ceilings, log burners and a lush, green garden’
The judges say that head chefs Dave and Karl (left) are the ‘real powerhouse’ behind the kitchen team at The Unruly Pig. The pub serves food that’s ‘a pleasant cross between British and Italian (Brit-Italian) cuisine’
Housed in a 16th-century inn with ‘beams, crooked ceilings, log burners and a lush, green garden’, this Suffolk eatery is owned by the ‘witty and charismatic’ Brendan Padfield, who founded the pub following a 36-year career in law.
Described as ‘winsome and warm’, the pub serves food that’s ‘a pleasant cross between British and Italian (Brit-Italian) cuisine, giving diners a refreshing change from the usual pub fare’.
The judges at this year’s awards – now in its 14th year – reveal: ‘Head chefs Dave and Karl are known as the “dynamic duo” and are the real powerhouse behind the entire kitchen team.’ Menus change at least monthly and there are more than 60 wines available by the glass, as well as Cask Marque-accredited (a prestigious ale accreditation) and hand-pulled beers.
3. Freemasons at Wiswell, Wiswell – Lancashire
Third-place Freemasons at Wiswell (pictured lower right) is set in the pretty Ribble Valley village of Wiswell
Freemasons at Wiswell is headed by chef-patron Steven Smith (left). He ‘fuses locally sourced ingredients and his love of the classics with wild, sharp world flavours’
Set in the pretty Ribble Valley village of Wiswell, this pub ‘blends the ultimate gastronomic experience in a stylish, relaxed atmosphere’, the judges reveal.
Headed by chef-patron Steven Smith, the pub’s food is ‘all about contrast – experimental meeting traditional’. The judges say: ‘Smith fuses locally sourced ingredients and his love of the classics with wild, sharp world flavours… creating a delicious roster of food you have to experience to believe.’
You might feast on butter-poached native lobster tail with crispy claw wontons followed by a serving of Amalfi lemon meringue pie.
The judges add: ‘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 refurbishment and revamp of the business, which was completed in 2019.’
4. The Sportsman, Seasalter – Kent
Landing in fourth place is The Sportsman in Kent, where chef-patron Stephen Harris makes sure that produce served is sourced almost exclusively from the surrounding land
The judges note that The Sportsman is ‘remarkably affordable for an eatery of its standing’
‘Many foodies the world over have made a holy pilgrimage to The Sportsman in Seasalter, Kent, to sample the delights served within its walls,’ the judges say of this eatery.
Chef-patron Stephen Harris makes sure that produce served at the pub is sourced almost exclusively from the surrounding land, the judges reveal.
They say: ‘Harris, a completely self-taught chef, who abandoned a high-flying career in the city to open his “grotty boozer by the sea”, 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.’
A must-try, according to the judges, is the pub’s serving of slip sole grilled in seaweed butter. As a bonus, the judges note that the pub is ‘remarkably affordable for an eatery of its standing [the tasting menu is £80pp]’ – though they point out that ‘it remains a tough pub to get a seat in… so plan before visiting’.
5. The Kentish Hare, Tunbridge Wells – Kent
Diners can expect to enjoy ‘tastefully curated’ menus at The Kentish Hare, which ranks fifth overall
One of the delicious dishes at The Kentish Hare
This ‘homely and inviting’ Kent establishment – a ‘labour of love’ run by brothers Chris and James Tanner – dishes up modern British cuisine using ‘fresh, seasonal and local ingredients’.
The judges say: ‘The pub’s menus are tastefully curated with a selection of dishes to ensure diners will return more than once, with two courses priced at £28 and three for £35.’
Dishes that feature include White Lake Farm goats’ curd with heritage beetroots, as well as Bramley apple crumble with clotted cream.
The judges add: ‘The pub is split almost fifty-fifty into dining and bar space, which has been done purposefully so the pub can have a real community feel.’
6. The Angel at Hetton, Hetton – Yorkshire
Sixth place goes to The Angel at Hetton, a Michelin-starred eatery run by chef Michael Wignall
The Angel at Hetton’s menu is described as ‘glorious’
Run by chef Michael Wignall, this Yorkshire gastropub ‘offers pub food reimagined in a cosy environment that looks out across stunning landscapes’.
A testament to its quality, it has earned one Michelin star to date.
The judges declare: ‘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.’
Branding the restaurant’s menu as ‘glorious’, the judges note that you might dine on a monkfish main followed by Tahitian vanilla cheesecake with salted granola and roasted beetroot puree.
7. The White Swan at Fence, Fence – Lancashire
Seventh-place The White Swan at Fence is described by the judges as a ‘pub like no other’
The judges recommend keeping an eye out for special menus throughout the year at The White Swan at Fence
This one-Michelin-starred restaurant ‘looks like a typical village boozer’ from the exterior, the judges reveal, but inside it’s a ‘very special place indeed’.
Billed as a ‘pub like no other’, the eatery has been known to serve dishes such as lobster soup with tarragon and Whitewell partridge with smoked bacon.
Such dishes are the creation of chef Tom Parker, a ‘mischievous genius’ according to the judges.
The judges recommend keeping an eye out for special menus throughout the year – previous highlights have included a sell-out Japanese-themed night, they reveal.
8. The Hand & Flowers, Marlow – Buckinghamshire
The judges say that The Hand & Flowers, which ranks eighth, is ‘visited by thousands of eager foodies from across the country and world each year’
One of the eye-catching dishes at The Hand & Flowers
With a claim to fame as the first pub in the UK to earn two Michelin stars, this renowned Marlow eatery is spearheaded by celebrity chef Tom Kerridge.
The judges reveal: ‘Making every customer feel special as they walk through the pub’s door is the top agenda for the gastropub, along with giving friendly service and exceptional food and drink.’
They list Brittany guinea fowl breast with poultry tart as well as chocolate and ale cake as examples of the dishes that might appear on the gastropub’s menu.
The judges say that the pub is ‘visited by thousands of eager foodies from across the country and world each year’, adding: ‘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.’
9. The Fordwich Arms, Canterbury – Kent
Kent’s The Fordwich Arms, a ‘tastefully decorated’ pub that looks out over the River Stour, snaps up ninth place
Guests at The Fordwich Arms can choose from a la carte menus, tasting menus and two vegetarian tasting menus
Nestled in Britain’s smallest town, Fordwich in Kent, this prize-winning pub is described as ‘one of the loveliest gastropubs in the county’.
With chef-patron Daniel Smith at the helm, dishes are crafted from ‘local Kentish ingredients, which are sourced direct from nearby farms and producers’, the judges reveal.
Diners can choose from a la carte menus, tasting menus and two vegetarian tasting menus, with dishes such as roast saddle of venison with spiced fig emerging from the kitchen.
The setting is another high point – the judges say that the ‘tastefully decorated’ pub, which overlooks the River Stour, is housed in a ‘beautifully renovated building, with its red brick adorned with bright green ivy’.
10. The Red Lion and Sun, Highgate – London
Sliding into 10th place it’s London’s The Red Lion and Sun, a venue that plates up ‘rustic, modern British pub food’
Meats at The Red Lion and Sun have been sourced from nearby Highgate Butchers
Describing this London pub, the judges say: ‘A pub for all seasons, you can either nestle yourself away near the log burner inside or find a comfy spot to relax in the garden with some seafood and peruse what is widely recognised as one of London’s best wine lists, curated by its wine fanatic owner [Heath Ball].’
The menu is said to offer ‘rustic, modern British pub food’ with carefully sourced ingredients and meats from nearby Highgate Butchers.
The judges warn, however, that spare tables are an ‘endangered species’ on Sundays when the pub serves four different kinds of roast dinners.
THE ESTRELLA DAMM TOP 100 GASTROPUBS 2023 RANKING, FROM LANCASHIRE TO EDINBURGH
1. Parkers Arms, Newton-In-Bowland, Lancashire
2. The Unruly Pig, Woodbridge, Suffolk
3. Freemasons at Wiswell, Wiswell, Lancashire
4. The Sportsman, Seasalter, Kent
5. The Kentish Hare, Tunbridge Wells, Kent
6. The Angel at Hetton, Hetton, Yorkshire
7. The White Swan at Fence, Fence, Lancashire
8. The Hand & Flowers, Marlow, Buckinghamshire
9. The Fordwich Arms, Canterbury, Kent
10. The Red Lion and Sun, London
11. The Mariners, Rock, Cornwall
12. The Cornish Arms, Tavistock, Devon
13. The Harwood Arms, London
14. Shibden Mill Inn, Halifax, Yorkshire
15. The Coach, Marlow, Buckinghamshire
16. The Beehive, Great Waltham, Essex
17. The Cadeleigh Arms, Tiverton, Devon
18. The Pack Horse, Hayfield, Derbyshire
19. Pyne Arms, Barnstaple, Devon
20. The Black Swan, Ravenstondale, Cumbria
21. The Moorcock Inn, Sowerby Bridge, Yorkshire
22. The Guinea Grill, London
23. The Baring, London
24. The Masons Arms, Knowstone, Devon
25. Canton Arms, London
26. The Rat Inn, Anick, Hexham, Northumberland
27. The Pipe and Glass, Beverley, Yorkshire
28. The Longs Arms, South Wraxall, Wiltshire
29. The Dog at Wingham, Canterbury, Kent
30. The Felin Fach Griffin, Brecon, Powys, Wales
31. The Hardwick, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales
32. The Loch and The Tyne, Old Windsor, Berkshire
33. The Bull & Last, London
34. The White Horse, Brancaster, Norfolk
35. The Black Bull, Sedbergh, Cumbria
36. The Swan, Bampton, Oxfordshire
37. The Bell Inn, Langford, Bedfordshire
38. Scran and Scallie, Edinburgh
39. The Dog & Gun Inn, Skelton, Cumbria
40. The Duck Inn, Stanhoe, Norfolk
41. The Duncombe Arms, Ashbourne, Staffordshire
42. The Black Bear Inn, Usk, Monmouthshire, Wales
43. Heft, High Newton, Cumbria
44. The Broad Chare, Newcastle
45. Woods, Dulverton, Somerset
46. The Gunton Arms, Norwich, Norfolk
47. The French House, London
48. The Eagle, Farringdon, London
49. The Butchers Arms, Hepworth, West Yorkshire
50. Royal Oak, Whatcote, Warwickshire
51. Sculthorpe Mill, Fakenham, Norfolk
52. The Alice Hawthorn, Nun Monkton, North Yorkshire
53. The Camberwell Arms, London
54. The Cadogan Arms, Chelsea, London
55. The Hind’s Head, Bray, Berkshire
56. The Higher Buck, Waddington, Lancashire
57. The Butcher’s Tap and Grill, Marlow, Buckinghamshire
58. St Kew Inn, Bodmin, Cornwall
59. The Drapers Arms, Islington, London
60. The Olive Branch, Oakham, Rutland
61. The Bridge Arms, Canterbury, Kent
62. The Bay Horse, Hurworth-on-Tees, Durham
63. The Black Swan, Devizes, Wiltshire
64. Marksman Public House, London
65. The Plough, Coton, Cambridgeshire
66. The Silver Cup, Harpenden, Hertfordshire
67. The Purefoy Arms, Preston Candover, Hampshire
68. The Rose Inn, Wickhambreaux, Kent
69. Anchor & Hope, London
70. The Brewers, Rattlesden, Suffolk
71. The Heathcock, Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales
72. The Wild Rabbit, Kingham, Oxfordshire
73. The Woolpack Inn, Slad, Gloucestershire
74. The Blind Bull, Buxton, Derbyshire
75. The Cross, Kenilworth, Warwickshire
76. The Boat Inn, Lichfield, Staffordshire
77. The White Post, Rimpton, Somerset
78. The Compass Inn, Lower Chicksgrove, Wiltshire
79. The Cross Keys, Chelsea, London
80. The Five Elms, Weedon, Northamptonshire
81. The Mash Inn, Radnage, Buckinghamshire
82. The Ship Inn, Elie, Fife, Scotland
83. The Tamil Prince, Islington, London
84. The Audley Public House, Mayfair, London
85. The Brisley Bell, Brisley, Norfolk
86. The Clarence Tavern, Stoke Newington, London
87. Greyhound Inn, Pettistree, Suffolk
88. Parlour, Kensal, London
89. The Greyhound, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire
90. The Three Hills, Bartlow, Cambridgeshire
91. The Newbury, Newbury, Berkshire
92. The Pelican, Notting Hill, London
93. The Suffield Arms, Thorpe Market, Norfolk
94. Dylans – The Kings Arms, St Albans, Hertfordshire
95. The Alford Arms, Frithsden, Hertfordshire
96. The Bakers Arms, Thorpe Langton, Leicestershire
97. The Barrington Boar, Ilminster, Somerset
98. Hare & Hounds, Aberthin, Glamorgan, Wales
99. The High Field, Edgbaston, Birmingham
100. The Sandpiper Inn, Leyburn, Yorkshire