Top 100 gastropubs 2021 revealed
What better week for the reveal of the country's best gastropubs than the start of lockdown easing? Here are the two winners in Wiltshire - phones at the ready to bag your table.
The gastropub is a fine invention. Amazing food, well-sourced wine lists, rustic furniture and all with a relaxed enough vibe that should you be wearing your Hunters and be accompanied by a muddy Labrador, they’ll still find a place for you somewhere in the bar. Who could ask for more on a wet Sunday?
But alas, as with most of our cherished pastimes (is eating gourmet Scotch eggs a pastime?), Covid put paid to us rooting out the gastro gems in our area. So, we are pleased, nay, delighted that not only has Estrella Damm just announced the UK’s top 50 gastropubs and the best 50 runners up (allowing us to locate the winners near us) but that the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown has decreed that pubs can now open for outdoor dining from 12 April. It’s like Christmas. Except that it’s spring.
And if that wasn’t enough hearty news, it turns out that a much-loved Wiltshire establishment has nabbed a top spot in the top 50, and another county gem has secured a place in the top 100. It’s been such a tough year for pubs – and so many have had to adapt to survive – that we feel it’s only right to visit as many as humanly possible in the coming months.
So here they are, the two Wilts gastropubs that charmed the Estella judges – and links to the other winners in neighbouring counties. Race you to the table…
The Longs Arms, Bradford-on-Avon (No.24)
What they say: A beautiful country pub, The Longs Arms in South Wraxall serves cask ale and fresh, seasonal food in a relaxed environment with warm and friendly service. It’s a real find.
What we say: The Longs Arms is not short of awards, having been recipient of – deep breaths – Best Chef and Best Food Pub finalist in Thetford Reader Awards 2016, a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, and the Gastropub award in the Bath Life Awards 2016. And lockdown hasn’t stopped the team either: hot takeaways are available to preorder Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays, Heat @ Home three-course menus are also available and a bakery has been supplying locals with mouth-watering fresh bread and pastries. The work ethic is undeniable as is the quality. We’ll be popping in as soon as we’re allowed.
Try this: Spring lamb, olives, feta, fondant potato, sweet peppers, IoW tomatoes, mint, £26.00
The Potting Shed, Crudwell (No.90)
What they say: Three words sum up The Potting Shed – creative, British, seasonal. Menus at the pub, which Tom Parker Bowles hailed as “one of the best pub lunches had for years”, feature a plethora of some of the finest locally sourced ingredients and seasonal produce.
What we say: Cosy interiors, gorgeous food made with seasonal, local produce – the Potting Shed is the sort of pub you return to every weekend just because it’s really just a really nice place to hang out. Wills and Kate used to drink here before they were married, and if it’s good enough for them, it absolutely is good enough for us. The team have been running a takeaway during lockdown on Fridays between 4.30 and 8.30pm (lamb kebab with garlic and chilli sauce anyone?) so they’ve been able to keep ticking over. We look forward to kicking back in the large garden under the weeping willows. Bliss.
Try this: Pan fried cod, sautéed potatoes, green beans, capers, crab & prawn butter, £19.00
Want to try out the neighbouring counties’ winners? Of course you do. Grab your driving gloves and make a day trip out of visiting one of these…
The Beehive, White Waltham
The Crown, Burchetts Green
The Pheasant Inn, Hungerford
The Dew Drop Inn, Hurley
The Oxford Blue, Old Windsor
The White Lion Inn, Bourton
The Bell Inn, Langford
The Wellington Arms, Baughurst
The Anchor Inn, Alton
The Thomas Lord, Nr Petersfield
The Wild Rabbit, Kingham
The Kingham Plough, Chipping Norton
The Nut Tree Inn, Murcott
The Magdalen Arms, Oxford