There were celebrations all round as the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs were recently announced at a ceremony held in Berkshire

Lancashire saw five of its leading pubs included in this year’s Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list.

Leading the pack was the Freemasons at Wiswell moving up from fourth place to number three on the list, with chef Steven Smith also taking home the accolade of Chef of the Year.

The Freemasons, described as an elegant Lancashire gastropub, has held its spot among the top five in the Top 50 list, for several years. The Top 50 Gastropub listing describes food at the Freemasons as being: “All about contrast – experimental meeting traditional. Smith fuses locally-sourced ingredients and love of the classics with wild, sharp world flavours. ‘Evolution not revolution’ is Steven Smith’s motto. The chef and his team don’t want to reinvent the wheel with their cooking, they’re just curious to see if they can make it spin a bit faster.”

The Parkers Arms was 2017’s highest climber in the Top 50 list shooting up a whopping 35 places – no small feat. This year sees the pub at number 16 in the Estrella Damm listings which says: “The pub’s isolated location works in its favour, commanding stunning views out of rolling hills whether you visit in summer or winter.”

According to its owners: “The White Swan is a local pub that serves food, real ales and fine wines. Nothing more.” But the Top 50 Gastropub judges say otherwise: “To the keen observer, this is a statement that reeks of modesty.” It adds that the White Swan’s elegant menu is cleverly curated with dishes that have included lobster soup, salmon, fennel and tarragon, Whitewell partridge and a stunning Valrhona chocolate soufflé in a hot chocolate sauce.

The 17th century coaching inn that is the Cartford Inn is surrounded by countryside, which offers a lot of inspiration to the chefs in the kitchen. The pub made it into the Top 50 Gastropubs list in 2013 for the first time and has won a series of awards including a Great British Pub Award since then. This year the gastropub has re-entered the list at number 40, voted for by chefs and food experts from across the UK. Dishes that have featured on the pub’s menu include Lancashire venison loin with winter fruit, shallot tarte tatin, butternut squash and chocolate.

The Grade II listed pub that is the Assheton Arms, sits in the picturesque village of Downham, and has long had a reputation locally for serving up some of the region’s best pub food. The kitchen specialises in ‘same day’ seafood, often served only hours after being caught, as well as top-quality, locally-shot game and the best produce the bountiful county has to offer. The Top 50 Gastropubs list says the The Assheton Arms’ ranking in the Top 50 this year marks the latest in a series of accolades for the pub and adds: “Menu highlights have included Southern fried cod with gem salad, avocado, lime and chilli mayo, steamed Korean buns with crispy duck, spring onions, cucumber and chilli relish and roast hake with smoked salmon potato pancake, steamed baby spinach and shellfish butter sauce.”



Tedd Walmsley

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