Top 50 Gastropub wins Restaurant of the Year award

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Top gastropub: the Fordwich Arms opened its doors in 2017 (image credit: Facebook)
Top gastropub: the Fordwich Arms opened its doors in 2017 (image credit: Facebook)

Related tags: Pub, Pub food, gastropubs

Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropub – the Fordwich Arms near Canterbury, Kent – took home the title of AA Restaurant of the Year (England) 2019-20.

The pub entered the list at number 42​ this year where it was hailed as one of the loveliest gastropubs in the country.

The AA Hospitality Awards were held last night (23 September) at Grosvenor House, central London, and hosted by BBC journalist Kate Silverton.

About the Fordwich Arms, AA Hospitality said: “Chef-patron Daniel Smith has worked in some of the country’s top restaurants, including Jason Atherton’s group and The Clove Club for five years. There is also strength in the pastry section and front of house.

“The seasonal menu focuses on provenance, showcasing the best of local Kentish ingredients, sourced direct from local farms and producers.”

Charm and character

It added: “The food is delivered in a relaxed, comfortable and welcoming style, perfect for all-year-round and every occasion. This refurbished pub and restaurant is in Britain’s smallest town, just outside Canterbury.

“With a lovely 1930s bar and oak panelled dining room with three open fires, there is bags of charm and character here.

“Additionally, in the summer months, the riverside location provides a beautiful dining terrace and garden with views over the River Stour. A year from opening, the team has already gained acknowledgement.”

This year’s AA Pub of the Year England award was won by the Three Daggers in Edington, Wiltshire. This pub opened as the Paulet Arms in 1750, the Lord Edington Manor, locals quickly christened it the Three Daggers after the family’s coat of arms.

It’s now a pub with its own microbrewery complete with viewing gallery, farm and farm shop. The pub has bare tables, mismatched wooden chairs, exposed brick and heritage colours, in a bid to add to the informal country pub feel, alongside the seasonal modern cooking.

Menu options

The menu includes Downland’s black pudding Scotch egg, braised haricot beans and tomato sauce, lamb and rosemary pie; and dry-aged 28-day steaks from Stokes Marsh Farm, just a couple of miles down the road from the pub.

Pub of the Year Wales was awarded to the Glynne Arms in Hawarden, Flintshire, which was described as a “charming pub with quite a deliberate unfinished feel to décor and ambience”.

Its food was hailed as straightforward but very well executed including wonderful fresh fish and chips.

The Meikleour Arms in Meikleour, Perth & Kinross, won the Pub of the Year Scotland award. The venue welcomes locals and visitors who come to the area for fishing and shooting.

Its attractive restaurant has a private dining room, serving high-quality local produce.

The full list of award winners:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Robin Sheppard, Bespoke Hotels
  • Hotel of the Year – England: Chewton Glen, New Milton, Hampshire
  • Hotel of the Year – London: The Landmark London, west London
  • Hotel of the Year – Scotland: The Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterader, Perth & Kinross
  • Hotel of the Year – Wales: Grove, Narberth, Pembrokeshire
  • Hotel of the Year – Northern Ireland: The Fitzwilliam Hotel, Belfast
  • Eco Hotel of the Year: Carbis Bay Hotel, St Ives, Cornwall
  • Large Hotel Group of the Year: Park Plaza Hotels
  • Housekeeper of the Year: Ankica Korzelius – St Ermin’s Hotel
  • College Restaurant of the Year: Academy, Cheshire College South and West
  • Chefs' Chef: Jason Atherton
  • Food Service Award: The Ritz Restaurant, west London
  • Restaurant of the Year – England: the Fordwich Arms, Canterbury, Kent
  • Restaurant of the Year – Scotland: Sugar Boat, Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute
  • Restaurant of the Year – Wales: Bryn Williams at Porth Eirias, Colwyn Bay
  • Wine Award – England: Hampton Manor, Solihull, West Midlands
  • Wine Awards – Scotland: Castle Terrace Restaurant, Edinburgh
  • Wine Awards – Wales: Penmaenuchaf Hall Hotel, Penmaenpool, Dolgellaw
  • Pub of the Year – England: Three Daggers, Edington, Wiltshire
  • Pub of the Year – Scotland: Meikleour Arms, Meikleour, Perth & Kinross
  • Pub of the Year – Wales: the Glynne Arms, Hawarden, Flintshire

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