Budweiser Budvar Top 50 Gastropub Awards 2015: winner’s reaction

By Jo Bruce

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Anglian country inns, Public house, Inn

Steve Harris, of top pub the Sportsman, picks up his award from Tom Kerridge and Budvar's Peter Gordon
Steve Harris, of top pub the Sportsman, picks up his award from Tom Kerridge and Budvar's Peter Gordon
The chef/patron of the top pub in the Budweiser Budvar Top 50 Gastropub Awards has spoken of his delight on winning the award.

Steve Harris of Shepherd Neame tenancy the Sportsman in Seasalter, near Whitstable, Kent, said: “To get top spot is fantastic. I am very happy and proud. There are so many amazing pubs that could have won. It is a special thing to win.”

He said he believes the key to success is to stick to what you believe is right. He said: “If you have an idea of what you want, don’t let anyone deflect you. Stick to what you feel is right.”

The Sportsman was announced as the number one pub in the Top 50 list, which are voted for in an extensive poll of industry experts, at an awards lunch hosted by chef Tom Kerridge, who has just been named in the The Debrett’s 500 which recognises the most influential and inspiring people living and working in Britain today.

Pubs are the future

Kerridge told pub operators at the event: “We are the face of change in British food, we are the future of dining. The pub sector in many circles is talked about in a negative fashion with many pubs closing, but in terms of craft ale, small distilleries and fantastic food led businesses, the pub industry continues to go from strength to strength.

 “I am so proud to be a member of the pub industry and as a collective force, we are building a worldwide reputation and becoming a worldwide recognised movement. If everyday, all of us strive to be just a little bit better than the day before, the only way is up for the pub.”

Sportsman menu

The Sportsman, which has been run by Phil and Steve Harris for the past 15 years, has ranked second in the list for the past two years. The pub has held a Michelin star for nearly eight years and the menu focuses on locally sourced ingredients including seaweed from the local beach.

 As well as the main menu, a £65 tasting menu is also available featuring new dishes mixed with classics which have been featured on the site’s menu in the past 15 years.

 An average 100 covers a day are served at the site, with best-selling dishes including Whitstable native oysters (£2.95); Slip sole grilled in seaweed butter (£9.95); roast gurnard fillet with a bouillabaisse sauce and green olive tapenade (£21.95); smoked, maple-cured pork loin with wholegrain mustard tartare (£19.95); cream cheese ice cream with pear purée, meringue and ginger cake crumbs (£7.95); apple soufflé with burnt cream (£7.95).

Organised by the Publican’s Morning Advertiser, the award’s event was held at Anglian Country Inns’ site Hermitage Rd Bar & Kitchen in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. Anglian Country Inns has won the Best Food Offer award in the Publican Awards for the past two years.

Other winners

Josh and Holly Eggleton’s Pony & Trap in Chew Magna, Somerset, was voted into second place and James and Kate MacKenzie’s Pipe & Glass in South Dalton, Yorkshire was third. The pub also won the Wine List of the Year Award, selected from all the pubs in the Top 50 and special award finalists, by a panel of industry experts, including Good Food Guide editor Elizabeth Carter and Inn Places managing director David Hancock.

The Highest Climber Award went to James Durrant’s Plough at Longparish, Hampshire. He was a winner of BBC Two’s Great British Menu last year.

Highest New Entry went to Andrew and Mary Jane Fishwick of the Truscott Arms in Maida Vale, London. The pub also won the Newcomer of the Year award, which was open to pubs to enter themselves.

The other award from the Top 50 list was Gastropub Chef of the Year which was won by Andrew Hill of the Red Lion in Britwell Salome, Oxfordshire.

Winning Front of House Manager of the Year was Mo Gherras of the Michelin-starred Royal Oak in Paley Street, Berkshire and the Business Innovation of the Year Award went to the Richmond Arms in West Ashling, near Chichester, West Sussex for its WoodFired vintage pizza van and pizza restaurant.

Ones to Watch

New this year is the Ones to Watch Award, recognising pubs that are not yet in the Budweiser Budvar Top 50 Gastropub Awards list, but are tipped for wider recognition and ongoing success in the future. The three winners are Dominic Chapman’s Beehive, in White Waltham, Berkshire; the Tanner Brothers' Kentish Hare, Tunbridge Wells, Kent and Nathan Outlaw's Mariners in Rock, Cornwall.

Related topics: Chefs

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