Top 50 gastropubs 2021 revealed
What better week for the reveal of the country's best gastropubs than the start of lockdown easing?Here are the seven winners in Bucks and Oxon - phones at the ready to bag your table.
With the timing perfection of an expertly cooked fillet steak, along comes the list of the country’s finest gastropubs just when we’re itching to get some pub lunches, dinners and drinkies in the diary.
Oh, gastropubs, how we’ve missed you. We’re salivating over the thought of that pan-fried trout/crispy pork belly/stick toffee pudding, washed down with some fabulous vintage from the perfectly selected wine list.
In the spirit of the gift that keeps on giving, Estrella Damm has this year decided to name 100 pubs instead of the usual 50.
We’re delighted to find that there are three Bucks and Oxon pubs in the top 50 and a further four in the next best 50. After what has been the toughest year for many of the nation’s pubs, forced to shut their doors or reinvent themselves as farm shops and takeaways, we feel it’s our duty to work our way around the cream of the local crop.
So here they are, the Bucks and Oxon fab seven. We’ll race you to the table…
The Hand and Flowers, Marlow (No.7)
What they say: Tom Kerridge’s two Michelin-starred pub The Hand and Flowers has gone from strength to strength and remains a spectacle in the culinary world, visited by eager foodies from across the country. Guests who don’t want to journey home after visiting the Hand & Flowers can take advantage of the gastropub’s 11 bedrooms, situated in cottages nearby.
What we say: Dishes here aren’t a sentence, they’re an entire paragraph, with local provenance and originality high on the agenda. But the interiors are still unpretentious and there’s a relaxed vibe. Ideal for a special occasion especially the private dining room for up to nine (with mains at the £50 mark, this is definitely somewhere for a treat). Taking bookings from 17 May.
Try this: Dean Timpson’s Duck Egg “Ambassadrice” en Cocotte with Puntarella and Truffle Brioche £24.50
The Coach, Marlow (No. 9)
What they say: Tom Kerridge’s second site, The Coach, was 2016’s Highest New Entry on the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list and has maintained its position in the top ten for a second year. The site, a sleek, modern bistro-style pub that sits just down the road from Kerridge’s double Michelin-starred pub the Hand & Flowers in Marlow, is a force to be reckoned with and was awarded its own Michelin star in 2017, which it has held on to since.
What we say: The Coach has maintained its flexible, accessible approach but does allow tables to be booked on the day for lunch or dinner. Phone lines open at 9am so trigger fingers at the ready! The vibe in this small 40 cover restaurant is buzzy, the room open-plan, and with mains from £10.50, that’s a Michelin steal.
Try this: Rotisserie Beetroot Salad with Yorkshire Fettle, Horseradish and Hazelnut Dressing £8.50
The Wild Rabbit, Chipping Norton (No. 34)
What they say: Hopping seven places in the 2021 list, this elegant Kingham inn, near Chipping Norton, is owned by Lady Bamford, who is also behind the Daylesford organic café, deli, cookery school and spa complex near the pub (no not literally, can you imagine Lady B serving your flat white?). The restaurant combines the traditional British country-dining scene with more modern, urban touches. The Wild Rabbit has 12 rooms located in the main building and four dog-friendly garden rooms.
What we say: You can tell that the Daylesford touch is all over this restaurant-with-rooms – The Wild Rabbit is cosy Cotswold chic at its finest with nooks of seating around huge log fires and stylish pared back interiors. There’s also private dining in ‘The Chicken Shed’ for up to 20 but you can expect more than a handful of corn. Local ingredients feature highly in summer the terrace has a BBQ/grill menu. Outdoor dining from 12 Apr – 17 May, walk in only.
Try this: Cornish Pollock, salt baked carrots, salted pollock fish cake, sea herbs, shellfish sauce £28.50
And the Bucks and Oxon gastropubs in the next top 50…
The Kingham Plough (No. 68)
You’re spoilt for choice in Kingham with The Plough and The Wild Rabbit… we feel a foodie break coming on. This pub-with-rooms offers innovative modern British dishes with Mediterranean influences from head chef, Jonny Pons. Dishes on the sample menu include Cornish Moules Mariniere and fries, as well as roasted butternut squash risotto, chestnuts, pearl onion and parmesan.
The Nut Tree, Murcott (No. 69)
This pretty village pub has held its Michelin Star since 2008 thanks to a menu that balances British gastro pub classics with modern twists. Main courses on the pub’s sample menu include Blythburgh pork belly porchetta cauliflower, pear, Iberico chorizo.
The Magdalen Arms, Oxford (No. 72)
This corner of Iffley is becoming a bit of a foodie paradise with this quirky pub at its centre. Alongside hosting flea markets the pub serves cracking seasonal dishes with a twist such as slow cooked lamb shoulder, dauphinoise gratin and pickled red cabbage.
The Mash Inn, Radnage (No. 89)
Sorry kids – no under 16s allowed – this pub is strictly for grown-up fun. The ethos of open kitchen cooking on a bespoke wood-fired grill is used to great effect but forget pizza and steak, think more like ‘Aparagus, Bog Butter’ or ’24hr Short Rib, Tacos’. The succinct dish names belie what’s actually complex and subtle flavours, with many ingredients coming from the pub’s own kitchen garden. You can book now for a table in the stretch tent on the terrace during April and May.
A special mention also goes to Muddy favourite, The Greyhound at Beaconsfield, which was honoured with the ‘One to Watch’ award – no doubt an endorsement of even greater things to come.
Fancy nipping over the border? Better make a reservation at one of these beauties…
The Beehive, White Waltham
The Crown, Burchetts Green
The Pheasant Inn, Hungerford
The Dew Drop Inn, Hurley
The Oxford Blue, Old Windsor
The Bell Inn, Langford
The Longs Arms, Bradford-on-Avon
The Potting Shed, Crudwell
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