In 2001, a country inn made history as the first pub to bag a Michelin star. In the two decades since, a number of gastropubs have shot for the stars and achieved the prestigious award.
We’ve rounded up a list of Top 50 gastropubs that have been celebrated in the Michelin Guide, and we’ve asked chefs what secret ingredients make their pubs a cut above the rest.
Tom Kerridge’s flagship the Hand & Flowers opened in 2005 and is the only pub in the UK to hold two Michelin stars. It gained its first star within its first year of opening, and its second in the 2012 list.
The Michelin Guide says the pub uses “exemplary” ingredients, with “first-rate” presentation and bold, natural flavours that are given room to shine. The result is dishes that are “rich, rewarding and memorable”.
The à la carte menu, priced at £175 per head, has featured west country chicken, mushroom, hazelnut & pistachio ‘pie’ with Scottish girolles, baby onions bacon & sauce vin jaune, as well as ‘fish du jour’ with Chablis braised squid, sourdough ink cracker, sweet grapes & roasted bone butter sauce.
Head chef Tom De Keyser said the Hand & Flower’s best-selling dishes at the moment are Cornish ‘Tin Mine’ tart with spiced date sauce, soft cheddar & crispy beef, 30 day dry aged fillet of beef with potato buttermilk waffle, crème fraiche & chive butter and sauce Bordelaise, and banana souffle with vanilla custard ice cream, milk chocolate and plantation original dark rum sauce.
Speaking to Top 50 Gastropubs, he added that it is a “warm welcome from a hugely talented front of house team” that sets the gastropub apart, as well as its 15 uniquely designed bedrooms that provide guests with an “incredible gastronomic overnight stay”.
The Michelin Guide describes this gastropub as a small yet lively local pub serving great food, great wine and Timothy Taylors award-winning real ales.
Wit surrounds an elegant menu and interior at the White Swan, which is apparent from the pub’s website that describes chef Parker thus: “This is Tom. Among other things, Tom is very good at chopping chives. Tom cooks your food. Be like Tom.”
The White Swan offers just one set menu which is what makes the pub stand out, the pub’s co-owner Gareth Ostick told Top 50 Gastropubs, as it means Parker can focus on the dishes more and the quality goes up.
He said: “Some people might think that’s a negative, the fact there’s no choice, but for us it isn’t as long as the customer is prepared not to experiment, but to trust us”.
Tom Kerridge’s second site, the Coach, was 2016’s highest new entry on the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list and has maintained its strong place in the rankings since.
The gastropub was awarded its first Michelin star on 2 October 2017. Its menu has included dishes such as crispy pig’s head with garlic sausage, pineapple salsa & chorizo mayonnaise, and cider & onion soup with cheese scone and ham hock butter.
The Coach head chef Sarah Hayward said pub’s current best-selling dish a chicken Kyiv with cauliflower cheese, accompanied by chips with Bearnaise sauce.
The Coach treacle tart with clotted cream is a sweet option that is favoured all year round.
Speaking to Top 50 Gastropubs, Hayward said: There are many things which make us stand out, I would say the open kitchen where guests can sit on the counter and engage with the Chefs is one of the things that makes us special.
“Also, the fact that we offer a £15 Set Lunch Menu Wednesday to Friday which changes weekly and we have a delicious breakfast menu available at the weekend.”
The Coach recently rejigged its breakfast menu with delicious plates such as French toast with berry compote and clotted cream, and the Coach breakfast muffin, which comes complete with caramelised onion ‘sausage’, hash brown, fried egg, smoked cheese & gherkin ketchup.
The menu changes daily at this gastropub, which is nestled in the rural village of Bridge in the Nailbourne Valley.
The Grade II listed, 16th century pub, which was once a bathing house, offers dishes that focus on seasonality and provenance, using ingredients from ‘The Garden of England’.
The pub gained its Michelin star in February 2022. In the Michelin Guide it’s praised for its “highly skilled cooking” which is available in a range of forms, from buttermilk fried chicken to the multi-course ‘Chef’s Menu’.
At the charming site, characterised by low beams and fireplaces, chefs treat prime seasonal produce like line-caught turbot with “exacting detail”, resulting in beautifully seasoned dishes, according to the Michelin Guide.
This small pub was granted a Michelin star on Wednesday 16 February 2022, and is the only pub in Cumbria to hold Michelin-starred status.
The Michelin Guide praised the pub’s “down-to-earth service” and “hearty, satisfying dishes [which have] plenty of depth and flavour.” Chef-owner Ben Queen-Fryer, described by the Guide as “talented yet unassuming”, said the award came as a “shock”.
He said: “I want people to have a special meal because they’ve enjoyed it. I don't want it to be special because someone's spending a lot of money on the meal.”
Queen-Fryer’s advice to other venues seeking Michelin status was to make customers happy. “If they come back, you're winning already. If you're busy and making money, anything else that comes is a bonus.”
The Harwood Arms became London’s only Michelin-starred pub after securing the accolade in 2014.
It prides itself on being “not your average gastropub” and is hidden away in Fulham’s backstreets offering award-winning food and wine in a casual and relaxed environment.
The pub’s British menu includes Cornish monkfish with seaweed hollandaise and slow cooked sika deer with bacon & honey mustard glaze have featured on the menu’s roast options, and puddings have included early grey tart and pear trifle.
A roof garden provides fruit and vegetables including tomatoes, radishes and strawberries.
The Michelin Guide says the cooking does what pub food does best: leave you feeling eminently satisfied.
Britain’s smallest town of Fordwich in Kent is home to a stunning gastropub, the Fordwich Arms.
Dan Smith opened the pub with his wife, pastry chef Natasha Smith, in 2017 when they were both 26, and the pub won a Michelin star a year later.
Part of that success, also driven by his undeniable skills, is down to Smith’s use of local Kentish ingredients, which are sourced direct from nearby farms and producers. But it doesn’t all hand on Smith’s shoulders, as the pub has an outstanding team behind it, with each person highly skilled.
Dishes you’re likely to see on the à la carte menu have included rock oysters for snacks, raw Orkney scallop with apple, kohlrabi and vadouvan spices for starters and roast saddle of Chart Farm Sika venison with chestnut, celeriac and spiced fig for main, with many more dishes to select from.
The full tasting menu, which costs £11 a head for six courses and petit fours, includes duck liver parfait; raw Orkney scallop; and turbot with crisp potato, grape and lobster sauce.
Situated in the idyllic village of Bray, the Hind’s Head has been serving guests, and all manner of visitors, since the 1400s. Chef Heston Blumenthal has owned the pub since 2004.
The 15th century pub was awarded a Michelin star in the 2013 edition of the Michelin Guide and has retained it ever since.
Concise menus offer time-honoured British dishes presented in a clean, modern style, with punchy flavours and the occasional playful element, according to the Michelin Guide.
Dishes served at the gastropub have included pea and ham soup with ham hock, pork belly and mint oil; confit pumpkin tarte tatin with salt and vinegar pistachios, sherry caramel and goats cheese ice cream; and earl grey tea smoked salmon with sour cream butter, pickled cucumber and soda bread to begin.
Mains have included oxtail and kidney pudding with oxtail sauce; cauliflower macaroni with slow cooked hen’s egg, brioche crumb and smoked salt; and roast cod with greens, cider butter sauce and caviar for main, with a host of sides to choose from too.
The Masons Arms gained a Michelin star after Mark Dodson took over as chef owner in 2005.
The picturesque, thatched 13th century inn features exquisite local cuisine using only the finest ingredients. Its menus are seasonal and ever-changing, with all dishes presented with taste and style.
The latest Michelin Guide recommends roast quail with salted caramel shallot tarte Tatin and hazelnuts; fillet of halibut with potato crust, bouillabaisse style sauce and anchovy aioli and its trio of raspberry desserts as specialties, praising the pub for exuding “rural charm” and classing it among their “most delightful places”.
Hearty and moreish dishes are at the centre of the Pipe and Glass’ operation. Guests should expect freshly caught seafood, locally shot game and humungous Barnsley chops at the 15th century gastropub which gained a Michelin star in 2010.
Speaking of its food, the Michelin Guide says: “Head chef James Mackenzie knows the Yorkshire market well and the region’s larder is well-represented on the menus, with numerous daily specials reflecting what’s best in season.
“Unfussy, instantly recognisable dishes are meticulously prepared, packed full of flavour and have subtle modern touches.”
Star Inn at Harome, North Yorkshire
Situated just outside Helmsley on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors, the Star is an inn with rooms serving modern Yorkshire food make mostly from locally sourced seasonal ingredients like local game and fresh herbs from its own kitchen garden.
The pub, headed up by Andrew Pern, held a Michelin star from 2002 to 2011, and then regained the award in 2014. In November 2021 the pub was badly damaged by a fire, but despite this, the Michelin Guide states the thatched inn still oozes charm and character.
It has also held a place on the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list since its inception over a decade ago, taking the top spot on more than one occasion over the years.
This gastropub gained its star in October 2019, within Michael Wignall’s first year of taking it over.
Pub food is offered in a cosy environment, and guests can enjoy the stunning landscapes of the Yorkshire countryside as they eat.
The menu features dishes including Loire valley rabbit loin and merguez, salsify, trompette and poached pear to start.
Mains include Monkfish, quail, venison and garden-inspired vegetarian options including Jersey potatoes, parsnip, king oyster mushroom and lovage.
Desserts are just as sumptuous, with Tahitian Vanilla cheesecake with salted granola, buttermilk, roasted beetroot puree and yogurt; or how about caramel tart with poached pear, frozen custard and condensed milk ganache.
The Cross at Kenilworth was awarded its first Michelin star just 12 months after opening in September 2014, and it has retained the accolade ever since.
The charming 19C, Grade II listed inn operates under chef director Adam Bennett, and also boasts three AA Rosettes, and received a Good Food Award Gold Seal in 2021.
As one might expect from a pub of such a high standard, the cooking reflects the changing seasons and also the high-quality produce from its suppliers.
Mains could include dishes such as Hereford beef fillet cooked over coals with beef cheek and pickled walnut pie, glazed carrots, baked potato mash and ale sauce; breast of Creedy Carvery duck with fondant potatoes, apple, hispi, lingonberries and Madagascan pepper jus; and Cornish hake with salsify, grapes, black mushrooms, orzo pasta, pine kernels and verjus sauce.
This pub on the edge of the Cotswolds is headed up by husband-and-wife team Richard and Solanche Craven and offers what it likes to call ‘proper country food’ using seasonal produce such as wild meats and foraged ingredients from its home area.
The website of the gastropub, which gained its star in 2019, reads: “Our aim is simple. We want to tell the story of our community, the producers themselves and how we’ve utilised their ingredients.”
Wild meats can include local roebuck and pheasant, and fresh fish is dispatched straight from day boats, while pig’s head and black pudding lasagne with cider and hazelnut is a favourite. For dessert, chocolate dishes may be laced with sea-buckthorn and coriander, and the cheeses come from Neal’s Yard.
Headed up by Stephen Harris, chefs at this pub let the surrounding landscape dictate what they cook. Behind it, the Thames Estuary, leading out to the North Sea, provides oysters and fish, and in front, marshland, woods and fertile soils give it meat, vegetables and game.
It’s held a Michelin star since 2008, and has a daily changing five course menu which the Michelin Guide describes as “assured and satisfying, with seamless flavour combinations and an understated level of complexity.”