The Boot Inn, The Garrison, The Foxhunter, Red Lion Inn and The Sportsman
21 The Boot Inn
Old Warwick Road, Lapworth, Warwickshire. Tel:01564 782464, www.thebootatlapworth.co.uk
Owner Paul Salisbury puts the Boot Inn's success down to his unwavering mission to serve good quality food. And he's turned the success into a mini-empire as he has five pubs on the go.
The Boot is the gastro pub in portfolio and Paul prides himself on having created a traditional pub accentuated by modern touches that sells tremendous food, in terms of both quality and value, and cask ales and wines from around the world.
He has a loyal band of local followers, but equally attracts visitors - he is in easy reach of the M42, M5, M6 and also the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.
Paul says: "The Boot's a lovely old pub in a village with lots of chimney pots. It's surrounded by high socio-demographic areas. It's quite an aspirational place to live, where local people want to get out and spend their money."
Behind the scenes at...The Boot Inn
Owner/licensee: Paul Salisbury
Head chef: Matthew Reynolds
Wet:dry split: 40:60
Covers a week: 1,500 to 1,600
Covers for diners: 60 in the pub, 80 in the restaurant
Best-selling dishes: Crispy Oriental duck with salad; lobster & scallops; sheperds pie.
On the menu: Chicken liver parfait, apple chutney & warm brioche (£5.95); duck confit & white bean cassoulet (£12.95).
Top tip: "Do not compromise on the quality of food just because you run a pub."
Best business ideas/innovation: "I've developed four variations of the Boot - the gastro pub, the bistro, the classical and Italian-style. They are all quite close to each other but all offer something very different."
22 The Garrison
99-101 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XB. Tel:0207 089 9355, www.thegarrison.co.uk
The Garrison is slap bang in the middle of a highly-populated residential area in London, but it prides itself on an intimate dining experience that brings customers back again and again.
Head chef Blair Macann, who trained under Marco Pierre White, says that the Garrison has built up a loyal following of customers who enjoy the predominantly British fare.
"We offer a good product in a very pleasant environment and relate well to our customers," says Blair. "It's vibrant but comfortable and we have plenty of regular customerswho we treat as friends."
As well as enjoying the main offering, which includes rib-eye steak, guinea fowl and cod, customers can choose from a selection of canapés. It costs just £8 for four choices from the canapé menu, which includes quail's eggs, scotch eggs, coconut saffron king prawns, and artichoke, red onion and sun-dried tomato tartlets.
Behind the scenes at...The Garrison
Owner/licensee: Adam White and Clive Watson
Head chef: Blair Macann
Wet:dry split: 48:52
Covers a week: 1,100
Covers for diners: 75 in dining room, 25 in private room
Best-selling dishes: Apricot chicken, almonds, dauphinois and curly kale; potted duck paté, cornichons, green tomato chutney and toast.
On the menu: Halibut pavé, truffled Savoy cabbage and salsify with Dorset cockle cream (£12.50); roast guinea fowl and rosti potato with sauce poivrade (£9.50); warm Norfolk apple & treacle tart with clotted cream (£4.80).
Best business ideas/innovation: Private cinema room in the basement that seats 25.
23 The Foxhunter
Nantyderry, Monmouthshire. Tel:01873 881101, www.the foxhunter.com
The Foxhunter was a run-down local pub selling £5, ready-meal lasagnes when head chef and owner Matt Tebbutt bought it four years ago.
Matt and his wife, Lisa, transformed the old Victorian pub near Usk in South Wales with a mix of original features and contemporary comfort. The informal setting combines Welsh flagstone floors and log-burning stoves with bare, solid-beech furniture and crisp linen napkins.
Matt - who trained under Marco Pierre White, Sally Clarke, Alistair Little and Bruce Poole - and Lisa moved to the country to set up their own pub and start a family.
He says: "We're in a tiny little hamlet that's so small you'll miss it if you blink. We originally lost all the local tradebut have really grown the business over the past four years by word of mouth. Using local ingredients is vital as everyone wants to know where their food comes from these days."
Behind the scenes at...The Foxhunter
Owner/licensee: Matt and Lisa Tebbutt
Head chef: Matt Tebbutt
Wet:dry split: 20:80
Covers a week: 250
Covers for diners: 50
Best-selling dishes: Loch Fyne scallops, Welsh black T-bone steak and spiced apple tarte Tatin.
On the menu: Home cured gravadlax, pickled cucumber, dill & mustard dressing (£7.95); braised organic mutton, Jersey cream mash, roast marrow (£17.95); summer berry jelly, vanilla custard cream (£6.95).
Top tip: "Perseverance and patience. Don't cook for yourself or the guidebooks - cook for your customers."
Best business ideas/innovation: "We sell home-made jams and bread to take home."
24 Red Lion Inn
Red Lion Street, Stathern. Tel:01949 860868, www.rutlandinnco.co.uk
The Rutland Inn company's Red Lion Inn has been open for four years now and has created quite a name for itself. It may not have achieved the same Michelin star grading as its big sister the Olive Branch (number 10 on our list), but it has a Michelin Bib Gourmand.
"Our philosphy is to creat pubs with an informal and relaxed environment, good quality local ingredients and affordable prices," says chef director Sean Hope.
The team have created something for everyone at the Red Lion with a traditional local bar serving real ales, lagers and speciality bottled beers, an informal lounge with comfy chairs and sofas for customers to catch up on the latest newspapers and magazines, an informal dining area and a more formal, elegant dining room.
Sean says: "We're in a beautiful part of the world here. We have our locals coming for a drink at he bar adn there's a good crowd that come because of the quality of our food.
Behind the scenes at...The Red Lion Inn
Owner/licensee: The Rutland Inn Co. (Sean Hope, Marcus Welford, Ben Jones)
Acting head chef: Philip Lowe
Wet:dry split: 30:70
Covers a week: 400 to 500
Covers for diners: 70
Best-selling dishes: Whitebait; pork pies.
On the menu: Warm tartlet of spiced aubergine and pan-fried red mullet (£6.25); char-grilled rib-eye steak with onion rings, garlic mushrooms and home-made chips (£14.50); Red Lion rum baba with prune and Armagnac ice cream (£4.95).
Top tip: "Create a place where you would love to eat and don't make it too expensive."
Best business ideas/innovation: "Our in-house cookery demonstrations: for £30, customers have a three-course meal with a glass of wine."
25 The Sportsman
Faversham Road, Seasalter CT5 4BP. Tel: 01227 273370
Stephen Harris sticks rigidly to the English cuisine de terroir mantra at the Sportsman.