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Top 50 gastropubs 2021 revealed

What better week for the reveal of the country's best gastropubs than the start of lockdown easing? Here are the pubs in Cornwall that made the grade - phones at the ready to bag your table.

The hospitality industry’s been battered by the pandemic, so this year’s gongs for gastropub greatness feels more than just a pat of the back for an exceptional triple-cooked chip. It’s also been about their drive to survive. So as pubs prepare to reopen on 12 April, the timing of The Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropub Awards could not be more timely. The judges (the UK’s top foodies and pub pros) have scoffed and quaffed between closures to bring you the best of the best – Cornwall might just have one pub in the top fifty, but The Mariners in Rock did place fifth, a mighty achievement.

Organised by the Publican’s Morning Advertiser, The Top 50 Gastropub shortlist really matters in the foodie pub world, as it celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit of the great British pub that serves awesome grub. The top spot was taken by The Sportsman in Kent, btw, with the other spots in the top five in Yorkshire, Lancashire and London.

Have you tried them yet? Let me know your thoughts.

The Mariners, Rock, Cornwall (5)

An astronomical rise of 18 places for husband-and-wife team Paul and Emma Ainsworth to take fifth on the list and the highest place in Cornwall. The Mariners is the pair’s fifth site in North Cornwall with views over the Camel Estuary. Go for eight tasty menu options, including À la Carte, Children, Collection, Cornish Cream Tea, Gluten-Free, Sunday Lunch, Vegan, and Vegetarian. Check out our Muddy review here and book in from 17 May.

The Gurnard’s Head, Zennor (66)

A real Muddy favourite on the West Penwith peninsula, about as far away from anywhere as it feels you can possibly be, with excellent food for both lunch and dinner, with plenty of outdoor space for a quiet drink while you watch the cows march past the front door on their way to be milked. Seafood and locally foraged ingredients are on the ever-changing seasonal menu. Read our review here.

The Stargazy Inn, Port Isaac (71)

You’ll find the Stargazy Inn perched on the cliffs in Port Isaac looking out over the bay towards Tintagel, pretty much opposite Nathan Outlaw’s New Road. Seafood dishes on the lunch menu include a Cornish crab roll with gem lettuce, crispy leeks, radish salad and skinny fries, as well Fowey mussels, served with saffron, coconut, chilli, lemongrass and coriander.

The St Kew Inn, St Kew, Cornwall (78)

The address might say Bodmin, but it really isn’t – St Kew is a charming old village tucked into the beautiful countryside between the coast and the A39 and the pub is really just a village pub. The already good pub food has been lifted to the next level by woodfired chef, Andi Tuck. Dish highlights include ember-baked beetroot with whipped goats curd, wild chervil and burnt orange to start, followed by a cull Yaw ragu with lamb fat pagritta smoked old Winchester or Porthilly mussels with brown butter, sea greens, fries and sourdough.

Here’s what’s cooking over the border in Devon:

The Cornish Arms, Tavistock (18)

A thriving gastro pub in the heart of town, so called as it was the last Coaching Inn before Cornwall. Dishes are unpretentious and great value (it also has a Bib Gourmand), and this is their well-deserved eighth consecutive year in the top 50.

NEW: Pyne Arms, near Barnstaple (no.32)

A new one on the list and straight in at an impressive number 32 for this family-run destination pub in the foothills of Exmoor. Owners Ellis and Amie Pannell been getting a lotta gongs for the last few years, including Trencherman’s, Gold in Taste of the West and the Devon Life Food & Drink Awards. Expect locally sourced food with a modern twist, including everything from Sunday roast to speciality fish. Currently open for takeaway, back open on 18 May.

Cadeleigh Arms, Cadeleigh near Tiverton (no.37)

It’s all go for Nick and Tina who in true ‘keep calm and carry on’ fashion have leapt up 10 points in the gastropub ranks since 2020. Ever aiming to showcase the best of the South West, the regularly changing local and sustainable menu includes old school favourites lovingly prepared, including Newlyn caught fish, Devon pork, Sunday roasts, and afternoon tea, along with options choice for littlies and vegans. Pop in for drinks and light bites from mid-April and the full nosh-up from 19 May onwards.

The Masons Arms, Knowstone (no.44)

A Michelin-star holder for a whopping 15 years, The Masons Arms nabbed its place in the top 50 thanks to owners’ Mark and Sarah Dodson’s laser-eyed focus on local ingredients and creative presentation. And what a pretty spot it’s in – a thatched 13th century inn on the edge of Exmoor but with easy access from the Atlantic Highway too. Doors open from 19 May with new opening times, Tuesday – Saturday.

The Swan Inn, Bampton (no.50)

A pretty, whitewashed pub in a historic town on the Somerset/Devon border, with a cabinet groaning under the weight of awards, run by husband-and-wife team Paul and Donna Berry (they also own Spelt just up the road). The pair more than make the most of their bucolic Exmoor location, promising – and delivering on – seasonal, regional ingredients, and top-notch customer service. Open for bookings from 17 May.

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