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Kent’s top gastropubs

Foodies rejoice! 4 of Kent's fabulous pubs made the cut in the national Top 50 Gastropub Awards (this is the list that matters - as voted by industry experts). We love these wonderful eateries. Book your table now!

The Top 50 Gastropub Awards just took place – celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit of that food-led phenomenon, the great British pub that serves awesome grub. Organised by the Publican’s Morning Advertiser and voted for by industry insiders this is the shortlist that really matters in the pub grub world. This year 4 of Kent’s fabulous pubs made the cut – each very wonderfully different in their offering. Book your table now!

The Sportsman, Whitstable – No.1

This Michelin starred pub is very low key – even describing itself on Twitter as the ‘grotty rundown pub by the sea’. But this is a bit tongue in cheek as it’s been hovering around the top spot for some years now. They just don’t buy into pretentiousness and there’s a really laid-back, relaxed atmosphere. Mr Muddy and I visited on a weekend trip last May. The menu was simple but perfectly executed and the fish could not have tasted fresher (it’s right by the sea just outside Whitstable). We had one of the most relaxing and delicious lunches followed by a walk along the beach. It felt like we’d had a mini break all in the space of about 5 hours!

The Sportsman, Faversham Rd, Seasalter, Whitstable, Kent CT5 4BP, Tel:01227 273370;

The Compasses Inn, Canterbury – No. 21

This rural pub is found deep into the chocolate-box depths of the Kentish countryside, down narrow winding country roads tucked away in the village of Crundale, between Canterbury and Ashford. Having  heard great things, I visited last year, keen to stuff myself silly and file a full report, which you can read here. Husband and wife team, Rob and Donna Taylor describe their pub as a ‘muddy wellies and fine food kind of place,’ which sums it up perfectly.  Since they took it over five years ago, they’ve transformed the menu and refurbished the restaurant a bit but very much kept the country pub style – garlands of hops, low beams and inglenook fireplaces.

The Compasses Inn, Sole Street, Crundale, Canterbury, Kent, CT4 7ES, Tel: 01227 700 300,

The Fordwich Arms, Canterbury – No. 42

The Fordwich Arms got the national food journalists panting into their plates earlier this year just after its launch in December 2017. Run by Dan Smith, former The Clove Club and winner of the Observer Young Chef of the Year, with his fiancée, pastry chef, Natasha Norton and sommelier, Guy Palmer Brown (also ex Clove Club), Fordwich Arms is the winning mix of a great Kent pub that just so happens to serve exquisite food (the pheasant dumplings are a must, trust me) which affirms once again why it’s really not that bad living in the sticks.

The Fordwich Arms, King St, Fordwich, Canterbury CT2 0DB, Tel: 01227 710444,

The Kentish Hare, Bidborough – No. 43

With 2 AA Rosettes, and a whole host of other awards under its belt since James and Chris Tanner saved the pub from demolition just a few years ago, The Kentish Hare is a real foodie gem and a Muddy favourite. Stylishly designed with the hare theme and quirky furnishings dotted around the place. There’s lots of pockets of different space, which we really like in our eateries. You’d be just at home here having a grown up meal out with the mother-in-law/a group of girlfriends in the main dining room, or feeding your kids in the more relaxed bar area. The kids menu is spot on, there’s a beer garden, Fish’n’Chip FryDay and even better all kids under 5 eat free. Whatcha waiting for?

The Kentish Hare, 95 Bidborough Ridge, Bidborough, Tunbridge Wells TN3 0XB, Tel: 01892 525709,

See the full list here.

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