- Highest New Entry 2020
The Boat Inn has since become an absolute belter of a venue.
Gastropubs in the Midlands have not had a fair representation in recent years on the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list. However, changing that is chef-owner of Lichfield’s the Boat Inn – Liam Dillon.
One year after opening, the Boat was crowned Newcomer of the Year at the Top 50 Gastropubs Awards in January 2019, a category that saw many newly opened food pubs vie for the prestigious title.
In 2020, the chef catapulted his pub into the Top 50 Gastropubs list for the first time and was the Highest New Entry, joining the party at number 20.
However, judges noted Dillon’s intelligent approach to cooking and the impressive stories he told on the plate.
But why launch a gastropub and why in Lichfield? “For me, I wanted to open a gastropub. This site lends itself to being one because it’s a big pub,” explains Dillon. “Growing up in Lichfield, there weren’t a huge amount of high-quality restaurants in the area. That might sound a bit big-headed, but that’s what we’re trying to achieve.
“I was looking at sites in Birmingham because that’s where I thought I needed to be. But looking closer to home, it all kind of just fell into place and the dream or mission statement is to create a quality-led food and beverage hub in Lichfield, Staffordshire.”
The idea, while strong and developed with good intentions, was a risky one as the pub sits next to a busy A-road and is by no means in the centre of the action from the nearby town. That said, Dillon and his growing team has seen trade grow dramatically since the launch.
The pub has since grown into an outstanding venue that serves some of the very best food in the country and in a setting that oozes class and sophistication.