t’s almost hard to believe that for a decade we’ve been celebrating the best food pubs the UK has to offer, but it is true. In January 2019, we’ll be observing 10 years of this wonderful list and event that both strive to showcase the glut of gastropub greats in the UK.
In true Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs form, we’re kicking the 2019 awards off in style with our famous and exclusive celebratory lunch, which this year will be cooked by superstar Tom Kerridge and team from across his growing gastronomic empire.
Kerridge’s two Michelin-starred Hand & Flowers pub in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, has played a part on the list pretty much since launch. His second Michelin-starred site – the Coach, also in Marlow – entered the list in 2016, two years after opening, as the Highest New Entry and has remained there since.
Champions of great cuisine
The Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropub Awards are voted for by top foodies and hospitality experts. These include gastropub operators (who can’t vote for their own pubs), food writers, pubco catering development managers and executive chefs, celebrity and top hospitality industry chefs, pub guide editors, industry chiefs and food operators. The voting criteria ensures the list really is decided on by the industry.
To ensure each region in the UK has an equal opportunity for their pubs to shine, our voters are broken down into six geographical regions, with an equal number of votes collected in each by the Top 50 Gastropubs Voting Academy.
Top 50 Gastropubs editor Nicholas Robinson says: “I know it’s a cliché, but we’ve all come such a long way in the past 10 years and have done a lot with the list and awards in that time.
“I am so, so proud to be a small part of this incredible sector and will continue to do everything I can to ensure we celebrate the real champions of great British cuisine: you and your pubs. It has always been our goal to showcase the best and that will continue to be the case over the next 10 years and beyond.
“We are very excited to have Tom and his superb team cook for us at the event, like everyone on the list, he has been an important part of our history and continues to show the world that gastropub cuisine is both sophisticated and accessible.
“But now it’s up to you. We’re once again setting out to discover which gastropubs deserve the coveted titles of Newcomer of the Year and Front of House Team of the Year. The winners of these entered-for awards, the only part of the Top 50 Gastropubs event that has outside influence, will be celebrated alongside the 2019 listees. So, what are you waiting for? You can enter at wrbookings.top50gastropubs.com.”
Reclaimed top spot
Front-of-House of the Year award
If your pub has the best front-of-house manager and team in the trade, they deserve recognition from their industry peers.
Winning teams of this category will be in sync with one another in order to run the best customer-focused food pub. The team’s contribution to the running of the business will be visible through upselling, add-on sales and great dining reviews.
Those who enter the category will also face a mystery diner round of judging, so you must be confident about your team’s skills.
Last year’s winner was the team at the Unruly Pig, in Bromeswell, Suffolk, for the outstanding work the team at the pub puts into ensuring every visitor has the best experience.
The front-of-house team doesn’t just tick all of the boxes when it comes to customer service, but goes that clichéd extra mile for every guest.
To enter the awards for free, visit wrbookings.top50gastropubs.com.
Looking back to the start of 2018, when the current list was revealed, Stephen Harris’s pub, the Sportsman in Seasalter, Kent, reclaimed the top spot from Andrew Pern’s the Star Inn, Harome – both Michelin-starred venues.
Pern hosted the big lunch and list reveal at his York city centre restaurant the Star Inn the City, which was followed by a cruise down the River Ouse and a grand party held in a teepee in the grounds of Pern’s restaurant. Headline sponsor Estrella Damm kept the beer flowing and cocktails were provided by partners Schweppes 1783 and Slingsby Gin, while Yorkshire Tea warmed guests’ cockles with a much-needed brew.
Plans for 2019’s celebrations are well under way, with Kerridge’s meal forming a big part of the day. As Kerridge is cooking, the event will be hosted in a Berkshire manor house and will run from lunchtime until late in the evening, with many surprises thrown in along the way.
Plans for the future of the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list and how the brand is going to further help those pubs involved will also be outlined.
Elite food explosion
Publisher of the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs and The Morning Advertiser, the pub industry bible that powers the event, Chris Lowe, says: “It’s now 10 years since we launched Top 50, and the market for elite food in a relaxed atmosphere has exploded.
“Our website tool, helping consumers find a gastropub continues to grow, producing about 2,000 covers a month for all the pubs on the list – we are now looking to invest in this element and see how else we can help increase the exposure and digital footprint for every gastropub on our list. Our hope is that we can inspire more pubs to aspire to be one of our Top 50.”
The Top 50 Gastropubs is brought to you in partnership with Estrella Damm, Schweppes 1783 and Yorkshire Tea.
Newcomer of the Year
This award recognises stand-out pubs that have been open for 18 months or less. Judges will look for details on investment in the business; successful food and drink promotions; strong marketing and PR; and any future development plans.
Last year’s winner of this coveted award was the Oxford Blue in Old Windsor. The pub makes the best of the chef’s excellent relationships with local suppliers, which is reflected in specialist game cuisine on offer.
If you think your pub has what it takes to be named the best newcomer in 2019, we want to hear from you.