The Sportsman has been widely acknowledged as one of the best gastropubs in the UK for several years now, topping the Top 50 Gastropubs list in 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019 and now for 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.
He was last year’s head chef at the Top 50 Gastropubs list reveal and, along with his outstanding team, delivered a worthy banquet for the UK’s top chefs and pub owners.
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.
Menu highlights include 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.
Don’t forget to try Harris’s famous slip sole grilled in seaweed butter. 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, deliciousness.
The Sportsman is also remarkably cheap for an eatery of its standing. Tasting menus start at £60 and à la carte dishes rarely breach the £30 mark.
Although, it remains a tough pub to get a seat in because the popularity of the cooking stretches the world over, so plan before visiting.
The Sportsman / CHEF
I never had any lessons. I’d only worked in a few restaurants before I set up the Sportsman