Longstanding Mayfair haunt the Guinea Grill has been named as London’s best pub for food, according to this year’s edition of Estrella Damn’s annual Top 50 Gastropubs list. It is the first time the pub has triumphed over its competition in the capital.
The Guinea, which is run by landlord Oisin Rogers, placed seventh on the UK-wide list, up from 15 last year. The number one spot was bagged by The Unruly Pig, the Suffolk restaurant where Dave Wall is head chef.
Only a handful of other London pubs made it onto the list: at 15 is Fulham’s Michelin-starred Harwood Arms; at 16, Highgate’s celebrated Red Lion and Sun; at 21, Parliament Hill spot The Bull and Last; Soho’s beloved French House at 29; and finishing the London list, Stockwell’s Canton Arms at number 38. In total, only six of the 50 pubs were from the capital. Interestingly, none bar the Guinea is managed or owned by a major pub chain. The Guinea is part of the Young’s stable, and is famous for its steaks, pies and silver service.
Another London venture, the Blue Boar, was named as “One to Watch” by the judges. The Westminster pub sits inside the Conrad London St James hotel, next to the Pem restaurant, and has a menu put together by celebrated chef Sally Abé. Out east, The Princess of Shoreditch was named Newcomer of the Year; the head chef is Great British Menu finalist Ruth Hansom.
London pubs which dropped off the list include the Canton’s sister, the Anchor and Hope (last year at number 28) and the Marksman (number 29 in 2021).
There was good news as well for Adam Handling, the Scottish chef who’s been based in London for almost a decade, as his Windsor pub with room The Loch and the Tyne placed at number 27, making it the highest new entry on the list.
Handling said of the acknowledgement: "I’m so happy and proud that our little pub with guest bedrooms has made it in to the Top 50.
“This is our first time opening a pub and it’s been great fun to adopt our restaurant style into a super informal setting. Co-chef proprietors, Steven and Jonny, have worked for me for 13 years and have always wanted a pub, so to give them an opportunity to run one and for it to go straight into the Top 50 is bloody fantastic."
To top the list, the Unruly Pig moved up nine places, with owner Brendan Padfield saying: “For any UK gastropub this list is the ‘gold standard’. It’s the business. To be a part of such a prestigious group is a huge honour and a very real privilege.
“There are some very famous chefs and talented operators here… and for us to be a small part of this amazing list means so very much to all our team. They can rightly hold their heads up proud yet again as our listing is because of their dedication, loyalty and sheer hard graft.”
Last year’s winner, Whitstable’s acclaimed Sportsman, this year placed at six. Ahead of it now are the Freemason’s at Wiswell (five, up from six); the Angel at Hetton at four – though curiously it was named as the UK’s second best restaurant at Estrella Damm’s National Restaurant Awards last August – The Star Inn at Harome, which is at three but presently closed after a suspected arson attack “reduced it to ashes”; and at number two, Clitheroe’s Parkers Arms.
Top 50 Gastropubs publisher Chris Lowe said of the list: “After a tough two years for the hospitality industry, we are thrilled to see such a strong list of contenders this year, including a new number one and several new entrants. The Top 50 Gastropubs provides a platform for food-lovers to explore the very best offerings across the UK.
“I’m incredibly delighted for Brendan and everyone at The Unruly Pig to get the number one spot.”
For the full list, head to top50gastropubs.com