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Top 50 Gastropubs 2021 revealed

Whose tripled-cooked chips have got them into the gastropub hall of fame? Roomy pants on, let's tuck in because FOUR of Kent's pubs made the grade.

The hospitality industry’s been battered by the pandemic, so this year’s gongs for gastropub greatness feels more than just a pat of the back for an exceptional triple-cooked chip. It’s also been about their drive to survive. So as pubs prepare to reopen on 12 April, the timing of The Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropub Awards could not be more timely. The judges (the UK’s top foodies and pub pros) have scoffed and quaffed between closures to bring you the best of the best.

Organised by the Publican’s Morning Advertiser, The Top 50 Gastropub shortlist really matters in the foodie pub world, as it celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit of the great British pub that serves awesome grub.

ALL 4 Kent destinations were listed in the top 20, with The Sportsman at Seasalter in at number one!

Have you tried them yet? Be sure to leave a Comment when you do!

The Sportsman, Whitstable – No.1

Only number 1!!! This Michelin starred pub has long sat at the top of the chart and rightly so. On the surface it’s very low key – even describing itself on Twitter as the ‘grotty rundown pub by the sea’. All a bit tongue-in-cheek obviously – more that they just don’t buy into pretentiousness and there’s a really laid-back, relaxed atmosphere. When I visited the menu was simple and perfectly executed – the fish could not have tasted fresher (it’s right by the sea just outside Whitstable). Book now!

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

The Compasses Inn, Crundale – No. 8

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. 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 several years ago, they 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 Kentish Hare, Bidborough – No. 13

Tunbridge Wells’ the Kentish Hare came in at number 13 galloping up the poles from number 28 last year! Winner of Best Destination Pub in the 2019 Muddy Awards this eatery is stylishly designed with the hare theme and quirky furnishings dotted around the place, there’s lots of pockets of space here and you’d be just at home having a grown up meal out with the mother-in-law 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,

The Fordwich Arms, Canterbury – No. 16

Just sliding up one whole spot from number 17 to now number 16, they’re heading in the right direction! The Fordwich Arms near Canterbury was another Kent pub which jumped a significant number of places this year – from 42nd to 17th. 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,

See the full list here.

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