The Shepherd Neame lease, run by brothers Stephen and Phil Harris, won Gastropub of the Year at the Budweiser Budvar Top 50 Gastropubs Awards, which were held on Monday (26 January).
The Pony & Trap, in Chew Magna, Somerset, was placed second, while the Pipe & Glass, in South Dalton, East Riding of Yorkshire, was third. Each of the top three have moved up a place from last year.
Organised by BigHospitality’s sister publican the Publican’s Morning Advertiser, the Top 50 list is determined by top chefs, pub company bosses, food guide editors and journalists.
The awards, which were held at Anglian Country Inns’ Hermitage Rd Bar & Kitchen in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, were hosted by BBC Two Food & Drink presenter and two-Michelin starred chef Tom Kerridge.
Kerridge’s own Hand & Flowers, in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, won top gastropub for three years in a row, before it was retired to the Top 50 Hall of Fame this year.
Having held a Michelin star for eight years, the Sportsman focuses on locally-sourced ingredients including seaweed from a nearby beach.
Along with a main menu, head chef Stephen Harris offers a tasting menu that is a combination of new dishes mixed with classics featured on the site’s menu in the past 15 years.
Winner of the Best Food Pub at the Great British Pub Awards, the Michelin-starred Pony & Trap is run by chef Josh Eggleton and his sister Holly, who is front-of-house manager.
Also the holder of a Michelin star, the Pipe & Glass is run by chef James Mackenzie and his wife Kate, who is front-of-house manager.
The pub also won the Wine List of the Year award, which was one of a number of special awards chosen with the help of a panel of industry experts that included Good Food Guide editor Elizabeth Carter and Alastair Sawday's Special Places Pubs & Inns editor David Hancock.
The Top 50 Highest Climber award went to James Durrant’s Plough, in Longparish, Hampshire, for jumping 29 places to fourth. Durrant was a winner of BBC Two’s Great British Menu last year.
Highest New Entrant went to Andrew and Mary Jane Fishwick of the Truscott Arms in Maida Vale, London, for 10th place. The pub also won the Newcomer of the Year award, which was open for pubs to enter.
The Richmond Arms in West Ashling, West Sussex, was awarded Business Innovation of the Year for WoodFired, its vintage pizza van and restaurant concept.
Gastropub Chef of the Year was won by Andrew Hill of the Red Lion in Britwell Salome, Oxfordshire, and Front of House Manager of the Year went to Mo Gherras of the Michelin-starred Royal Oak in Paley Street, Berkshire.
Open to pubs not included in the Top 50, there were three Ones to Watch winners – Dominic Chapman’s Beehive, in White Waltham, Berkshire; the Tanner Brothers’ Kentish Hare, in Bidborough, Kent; and Nathan Outlaw's Mariners, in Rock, Cornwall.