Top 50 Gastropubs 2021 revealed
What better week for the reveal of the country's best gastropubs than the start of lockdown easing? Here are the four winners in Berkshire - phones at the ready to bag your table.
With the timing perfection of an expertly cooked fillet steak, along comes the list of the country’s finest gastropubs just when we’re itching to get some pub lunches, dinners and drinkies in the diary.
Oh, gastropubs, how we’ve missed you. We’re salivating over the thought of that pan-fried trout/crispy pork belly/stick toffee pudding, washed down with some fabulous vintage from the perfectly selected wine list.
In the spirit of the gift that keeps on giving, Estrella Damm has this year decided to name 100 pubs instead of the usual 50.
We’re delighted to find that there are three Berkshire pubs in the top 50 and one more in the next best 50. After what has been the toughest year for many of the nation’s pubs, forced to shut their doors or reinvent themselves as farm shops and takeaways, we feel it’s our duty to work our way around the cream of the local crop.
So here they are, the Berkshire’s fab four. We’ll race you to the table…
NEW ENTRY: The Pheasant Inn, Shefford Woodlands (No. 38)
Unfortunately for the locals, The Pheasant‘s secret is out. It’s long been a foodie destination (review the Muddy review here), but booking a table could get tougher now that it’s made its debut on the Top 50 Gastropub list. This recently refurbished inn on the outskirts of Hungerford has 11 boutique rooms and prides itself on an “adventurous” drinks menu and modern British cooking. Run by Jack Greenall since January 2016, the ethos of this foodie destination is steeped in locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients. They also offer a ‘Build your own hamper’ service, daily breakfast and anyone spending £100 in the restaurant on a Sunday evening can rest their weary heads free-of-charge in one of its rooms. Jack’s busy preparing to open his first pub in London, The Surprise in Chelsea and The Pheasant will reopen on 17 May. Congrats to the whole team, a well-deserved accolade.
The Beehive, White Waltham (No. 11)
Chef Dom Chapman’s pub, The Beehive, is a Top 50 Gastropub regular – and for good reason. Nestled in the village of White Waltham, opposite the cricket ground, the pub is a real labour of love. 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 The Fat Duck and The Hind’s Head, Dom is passionate about creating beautiful food in a real English pub. Dom has remained open during the pandemic serving takeaway and @ Home dining for the locals. The garden is ready to welcome visitors from 12 April.
Crown at Burchetts Green, Maidenhead (No. 17)
The Crown Burchetts Green is on a roll. Believe the hype! The Crown at Burchetts Green debuted in the Top 50 in 2016 and holds a Michelin star and Michelin’s Special Service Award. It’s a foodie destination pub that’s gone from strength to strength and is now ranked 17 on 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. 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…
NEW ENTRY: The Dew Drop Inn, Hurley (No. 88)
If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise – and it’s no teddy bear’s picnic. Nope, perched at the top of a hill in Hurley, surrounded by woodland is The Dew Drop Inn. It’s a quaint 17th Century pub, rumoured to have been one of dandy highwayman Dick Turpin’s haunts. Luke, Charlie and Joseph built up a fantastic foodie reputation with their home-cooked, unpretentious dishes. The gastropub is set to reopen under new management so keep your eyes peeled for news.
Sadly, two of last year’s gastro greats The Oxford Blue in Old Windsor and The Royal Oak at Paley Street are both culinary Covid victims and have permanently closed.
Fancy nipping over the border? Better make a reservation at one of these beauties…
The Hand & Flowers, Marlow (No. 7)
The Coach, Marlow (No. 9)
The Mash Inn, Radnage (No. 89)
A special mention also goes to Muddy favourite, The Greyhound at Beaconsfield, which was honoured with the ‘One to Watch’ award – no doubt an endorsement of even greater things to come.
The Wild Rabbit, Chipping Norton (No..34)
The Kingham Plough, Chipping Norton (No. 68)
The Nut Tree Inn, Murcott (No.69)
The Magdalen Arms, Oxford (No. 72)
The Wellington Arms, Baughurst (No. 77)
The Anchor Inn, Alton (No. 86)
The Thomas Lord, Petersfield (No. 93)
The Longs Arms, Bradford-on-Avon (No. 24)
The Potting Shed, Crudwell (No. 90)
The White Hart, Whitley (No. 84)
See the full list of Top 50 Gastropubs here