Top 50 Gastropubs


The Sportsman

Seasalter, Kent

Many foodies the world over have made a holy pilgrimage to the Sportsman in Seasalter, Kent, to sample the delights served within its walls.

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Top 50 Accolades
  • No.1 on the list five times since 2015

The venue has been widely acknowledged as one of the best gastropubs in the UK for several years now, heading the Top 50 Gastropubs list in 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2021.

Sportsman chef-patron Stephen Harris is “obsessed” with ‘terroir’ – the idea that a restaurant’s menu should religiously reflect its surrounding geography, history and produce – and as such, produce served at the Sportsman is sourced almost exclusively from the land surrounding the pub.

Harris, a completely self-taught chef, who abandoned a high-flying career in the city to open his “grotty boozer by the sea”, picks seaweed from the Sportsman’s adjoining beach, makes his own salt from the sea, and uses meat from the bountiful farms of the Seasalter area.

Harris’s slip sole grilled in seaweed butter is famous and a must-try for any visitor. Although the chef himself has repeatedly expressed his dislike for the idea of ‘signature dishes’, this would be his. It’s the purest expression of what makes the Sportsman fantastic: simplicity, thoughtfulness and, most importantly, it is delicious.

The Sportsman is also remarkably affordable for an eatery of its standing and now offers one menu – a five-course tasting menu – celebrating small, seasonal dishes that showcase the local environment.

Menu highlights from the past have included roast saddle of Monkshill farm lamb with mint sauce; thornback ray with brown butter, razor clams and sherry vinegar dressing; and braised brill fillet with mussel and bacon tartare.

Desserts include chilled chocolate mousse cake with raspberries and raw cream; rhubarb soufflé with rhubarb ripple ice cream; and summer fruit salad with lemon verbena ice cream.

Be warned, however, it remains a tough pub to get a seat in because the popularity of its cooking stretches the world over, so plan before visiting.

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