Top 50 gastropubs 2019 revealed
…And Berkshire's triple-cooked chips stacked up nicely with more shortlisted foodie pubs than any other county outside the M25. Roomy pants on? Let's go.
Berks has reached gastronomic greatness! Of course we knew this already and are totally biased, but the UK’s top foodies and pub pros seem to agree, having placed FIVE of the royal county’s gastros in The Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropub Awards – more than any other county outside of London. Add this haul to our 12 Michelin stars and, well, the culinary crown is ours.
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. Our foodie five are: The Beehive, White Waltham; The Crown, Burchetts Green, The Royal Oak Paley Street; and new kids on the chopping block The Blackbird in Bagnor and The Oxford Blue, Old Windsor. They all take advantage of local, seasonal ingredients, offering outstanding plates of food in a relaxed, rural setting. And three of them have a shiny Michelin stars too.
Have you tried them yet? Let men know your thoughts
The Beehive, White Waltham (No.8)
Sitting pretty in the top 10 for three years on the trot, The Beehive, is a real labour of love for Head chef and owner Dom Chapman whose mantra is ‘to feed you and make you happy’. Nestled in the village of White Waltham, this is still very much a pub where as much attention has been lavished on booze as the food. The kitchen sources locally, but it also aims to represent the UK’s larder. This means ingredients from the country’s uplands and pastures, its meadows, woods, hedgerows, rivers and seas. Having worked at The Royal Oak Paley Street and Heston’s Fat Duck and The Hind’s Head, Dom is passionate about creating beautiful food in a real English pub. Don’t miss The Beehive’s debut at Pub In The Park in May.
Crown Burchetts Green, Maidenhead (No.13)
Believe the hype! The Crown at Burchetts Green debuted in the Top 50 in 2016 and went on to be awarded a Michelin star. It has since gone from strength to strength, and is now ranked 14 in the list, Simon Bonwick’s French bourgeoisie cooking is certainly getting the attention of foodie pilgrims. While the small bar is filled with local drinkers, the two relaxed dining rooms is where the magic happens – showcasing seasonal dishes made with top notch UK and French ingredients. Having previously worked at Albert Roux’s Waterside Inn in Bray and Tom Kerridge’s Hand and Flowers, the service is outstanding. Despite all well-deserved fuss about Simon’s food, The Crown maintains its status as a pub – with a resident ghost. The bar area is haunted by a small bearded man with a pony, who also enjoys pottering about in the gastropub’s cellars…
The Royal Oak Paley Street, Maidenhead (No.26)
After the disappointment of losing its Michelin star this year, The Royal Oak Paley Street is back with bang, climbing a whopping 19 places in the Top 50 list this year. Located in leafy Littlefield Green near Maidenhead, is famously known as ‘Parky’s pub’. But it’s now stepped out from this showbiz shadow and is a foodie destination run by Sir Michael’s son Nick. So what makes it special? Well, punters love it for its unpretentious menu with old favourites cooked to perfection whether it be a classic steak or roast lamb. There’s a real emphasis on using seasonal, local ingredients wherever possible. Don’t expect anyone to roll out the red carpet, it’s a place to relax and enjoy great food in good company.
The Blackbird, Bagnor (No.32)
Berkshire’s best kept secret is well and truly out (damn it). Just a few months ago The Blackbird in Bagnor was awarded its first Michelin star and now it’s been voted one of the Top 50 Gastropubs. Chef Dom Robinson (Tom Aiken’s former head chef) and his wife Marliz took on the tired village pub just over a year ago, brought the place back to life so Dom can serve his food, his way. A renaissance of classic cuisine using local, seasonal ingredients. I reviewed it last May (you can read the review here) and could not have loved it more. Batty nana chic decor, relaxed fine dining and a cracking 80s choon. A Muddy favourite.
The Oxford Blue, Old Windsor (No.48)
We called it! Having scooped the Best Newcomer award at this event last year, The Oxford Blue in Old Windsor, has snagged the 48th spot in the Top 50 . Congratulations to Chef-proprietor Stephen Ellis (protégé of Gordon Ramsay) and his cracking team. I have loved The Oxford Blue since it opened in 2017. Stephen lurrrrrves game (handy with Windsor Great Park on the doorstep) and that’s reflected in the menu of fancy British fare. His wife Ami makes mean pud and you always get a warm welcome Daniel Crump and his wife Margariet – the pub’s wine wizard (and Muddy BFF, hic!). If you’ve not eaten here, book up. You’ll love it.
Wanna know how the neighbour’s got on?
The Coach, Marlow– no.2
The Hand & Flowers, Marlow – no.14
Kingham Plough, Chipping Norton – no.22
The Magdalen Arms, Oxford – no.28
The Nut Tree Inn, Murcott – no.37
The Wild Rabbit, Chipping Norton – no.38
The Longs Arms, Bradford-on-Avon – no.36
The Beckford Arms, Gifford – no.39
See the full list of Top 50 Gastropubs here