Top 50 Gastropubs

What it takes to be One to Watch

With the One to Watch category opening for entries 23 October, we take a look at last year’s winner to find out what it's all about.

By Amelie Maurice-Jones | 19/10/2023

The One to Watch category gives pubs a chance to put themselves forward to be part of the Top 50 Gastropubs list. You can enter your pub here.

The category will be paper judged before being visited by an expert judge with the winner being announced alongside the list at the live event in January.

Whether you've been open for six months or six years, the One to Watch award gives all pubs a chance of joining our prestigious list.

The Victoria at Oxshott, a community gastropub in Surrey, bagged the title at the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropub Awards 2023, with experts impressed by its stellar food and drink offer.

Guests can expect a stellar dining experience that is quintessentially British at the gastropub.

Simon King and Matt Larcombe founded the Victoria in 2021. Having worked with the likes of Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsay, the pair are creating what they believe is the kind of gastropub they would like to visit.

Co-owner King said the pub had “really expanded” its exposure from being named One to Watch, with visitors travelling far and wide to dine at the pub – from Cotswolds, to Yorkshire, to London.

King continued: “What is so flattering is that people have all the options in London and jump on a train, we are only half an hour away from Waterloo, and come to see what the fuss about here.

“We wanted to combine] the levels of [quality and service] you get in London and replicate it outside of the capital. Especially now, people don't commute to work as much as they used to and there’s obviously more demand as well.”

He said the pair saw an opportunity to start a food and beverage-led pub of a certain level that hasn’t got much around it in Surrey.

The neighbourhood pub offers elevated British classics and fine wine, and is comprised of a traditional bar area, roaring fire, dining areas and a garden.

The menu has included dishes such as wild halibut, clams, mussels & foraged sea vegetable broth; braised ox cheek, beef fillet, crispy potato, turnip and mushrooms; crispy pigs head, piccalilli, carrot and cucumber.

The format of the menu is traditional, and it includes three course options as well as sharing dishes at snacks.

However, it’s a menu that’s written on a daily basis, and the team maintains “great connections” with suppliers. It’s also seasonally driven.

A lot of the cooking techniques are influenced by the Fat Duck chef Heston Blumnethal, as Larcombe studied his work for a decade.

Often, the pub puts a “little twist” on things, according to King. For instance, it’s done its own special interpretations of British desserts like Jaffa Cakes and Marathon Bars.

The wine list at the pub has been curated by sommelier Michael Engelmann, and aims to showcase small but quality lesser-known wine producers as well as future stars, established household names, and blockbuster wines.

Entries for One to Watch are now open, you can enter your pub here.