Meet the GBPA nominees: Best Food Pub sponsored by Booker/Makro

By Ed Bedington

- Last updated on GMT

Great British Pub Awards 2017: The winners will be revealed at the Hilton on Park lane on 7 September
Great British Pub Awards 2017: The winners will be revealed at the Hilton on Park lane on 7 September

Related tags: Best food pub, Restaurant, Inn, Great british pub awards

The last in our first set of previews for this year’s John Smith’s Great British Pub Awards is the Best Food Pub category, sponsored by Booker/Makro.

This category seeks to recognise pubs for whom food is at the heart of their success. 

The Compasses Inn, Crundale, Kent

The Compasses Inn, in Crundale,  near Ashford, is a real gem of a country pub. Hops hang from the ceiling’s wooden beams, enticing smells waft from the kitchen and regulars sit laughing and drinking at the bar.

As well as being shortlisted for the GBPA Best Food Pub of the Year for the second year running, owners Rob and Donna Taylor managed to secure 17th place on the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list this year.

The pair took over the pub three years ago and pride themselves on their work ethic. Following a complete overhaul, the venue has become a hub for locals and destination diners alike.

The Compasses Inn has been something of a hidden gem in the past, but is now a must-visit for foodies from across the country.

The Durham Ox, Crayke, North Yorkshire

Locality is a recurrent theme at the Durham Ox, which takes advantage of produce, meat and other ingredients from its surroundings to create hearty, tasty dishes.

From breakfast to brunch and lunch to dinner, all aspects of the Durham Ox, which also has rooms, revolves around food.

The dog-friendly venue, situated on an ancient Celtic trackway from Scotland to York, has panoramic views over the Vale of York where the towers of York Minster can be plainly seen.

An a la carte menu celebrates a wide range of local meat, vegetables, fish and seafood, which changes to suit the season and what’s available. Bread, petit fours and desserts are all made in house and the daily-changing blackboard offers specials.

The George Restaurant and Bar, Molash, Kent

Formerly a coaching inn, the George is now a well-established, family-run business. Views of the North Downs, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, lends the perfect setting to the pub’s food, which is locally-sourced.

The George recently won Kent Dining Pub of the Year and offers a daily-changing menu, which sticks to a simple philosophy of good food and good service in a beautiful location.

They say: “We take great pride in the fact that all of our dishes are freshly prepared in house. We know that to produce good food, you need to start with good ingredients and we firmly believe that wherever possible, all our ingredients should be locally sourced and responsibly produced.

“Fortunately, the abundance of quality produce from local suppliers makes this philosophy a reality.”

The Kentish Hare, Bidborough, Kent

Celebrity chefs the Tanner brothers, who have run the Kentish Hare since 2014, have grown the business from strength to strength, even securing a listing on the 2016 Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list.

Formerly the Hare and Hounds, the pub was bought by Sir Keith and Lady Maureen Mills three years ago, since when brothers Chris and James have been very conscious about keeping the operation running as a great food pub, producing sublime dishes from the kitchen.

The pub overlooks a valley, so is in a prime spot to be noticed,  but it’s the food offer and the pull of an inviting place for a pint that keeps customers coming through the door.

“Consistency, that’s what really drives it,” say the duo. “We get staff to put lots of ideas in to the melting pot so we don’t restrict their creativity.”

The Turks Head, Hasketon, Suffolk

Though this little gem sits off the beaten track in a small village, the Turks Head is at the centre of the community and is also a dining destination for many from miles around.

Every aspect of the menu is carefully thought out, from the balsamic-infused whipped butter to be spread thickly on bread while you wait, to simple and tasty vegetarian dishes that use fresh, local ingredients.

Dogs are welcome to visit the pub, which hosts regular dog-walking events, and there is a vast wine list, collection of gins and a healthy array of beers and ciders for guests who like to simply have a quiet drink in the pub’s beautifully designed interior.

But the food, prepared by head chef Mauli, is the main star of the show, allowing his experiences of working in kitchens around the globe to influence the menu design elegantly and subtly.

The Roebuck Inn, Lewes Road, Laughton, East Sussex

An historic coaching inn with rooms in the heart of the East Sussex countryside, the Roebuck also serves up mouthwatering meals. From the straightforward, such as beef hash, to the more exotic, chefs at the pub know how to turn out an inspired plate of food any diner would happily chow down on. There are no fancy powders or gels, rather simple, high-quality ingredients that are allowed to speak for themselves.

The menu changes daily to incorporate local ingredients, which are mainly supplied by neighbours in the village. Meat is free-range and a wide range of the menu is also vegetarian.

But the fun doesn’t stop there, this pub is also a hub for drinkers who can choose from a wide variety of ales – many from local suppliers – which pair perfectly with a lot of the dishes.

Tickets for the Great British Pub Awards can be bought by phoning 01293 846508. For more information about the event visit its dedicated website.

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