Lancashire pub Parkers Arms named UK's best gastropub

Plus more northern pubs honoured at The Top 50 Gastropubs awards

By Kelly Bishop | 31 January 2023

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Parkers Arms in Clitheroe has been named the UK’s top gastropub as it earned the number one spot in the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list for 2023. 

Headed up by Kathy Smith and Stosie Madi since 2007, Parkers Arms is well loved for its homely, comforting food executed with loving finesse. Anyone who’s ever been will tell you all about the pies – the stuff of local legend – pastry expertly rolled by Kathy, fillings dreamed up and carefully created by Stosie. Pie fillings in the past have included lobster, scallops, crab and langoustine; asparagus and nettle; layered cheese and potato; and hearty beef shin and oxtail.

Stosie Madi’s menu is rooted in French technique and draws from Lancashire’s larder. Image: Top 50 Gastropubs

Half-French, half-Lebanese chef Madi was born in Senegal and grew up in Gambia, but her pub’s food is distinctly of its region, passionate as she is about ‘truly local’ cooking. Her style, she says, is rooted in French technique but she draws from every culinary influence she grew up with and uses produce from the Lancashire larder to keep things properly seasonal, with all ingredients at their best. 

Other dishes on the constantly updated menu span everything from the Lebanese-Lancs mashup of sourdough mutton manoushe, to a dish of delicate herb and elderflower vinegar infused tomatoes with crispy oysters, to Newton venison with local bramble and unpasteurised cheese. Seafood lovers have been known to tear up at dishes like charcoal grilled Morecambe Bay lobster with a sauce made from its own ‘head matter’. Are you hungry yet? No wonder this pub has been named the UK’s best foodie boozer.

With the menu a strict three courses for £45, it’s bloody good value too. 

The pies have it at Parkers Arms. Image: Parkers Arms via Facebook

Parkers Arms has been bothering the Top 50 Gastropubs list for years – it hit the number two spot in 2022 – but this is the first time it has been number one. Fans of the pub and its passionate team – that include national food critic Grace Dent who once called it “God’s own gastropub” – will no doubt be thrilled by the news. The only downside is it’s going to be tough to get a table there now for a while.

In other northern Top 50 Gastropub news, the brilliant Freemasons at Wiswell came in at number three this year, up from its number five position in 2022. Steve Smith’s spectacularly executed posh pub food is very much worth your time if you’ve never been. If you haven’t tried his Lancashire cheese fondue and truffled cheese hot dog, you haven’t lived.

Steve Smith’s Freemasons moved up to number three. Image: The Freemasons

Sixteen northern pubs made the list of 50 this year, up slightly from last year’s 13. These were Parkers Arms (1), Freemasons at Wiswell (3), The Angel at Hetton (6), The White Swan at Fence (7), Shibden Mill Inn (14), The Pack Horse, Hayfield (18), The Black Swan, Ravenstondale (new entry – 20), The Moorcock Inn, Sowerby Bridge (RIP – 21), The Rat Inn, Anick, Hexham (26), The Pipe and Glass, Beverley (27), The Black Bull, Sedbergh (new entry – 35), The Dog & Gun Inn, Skelton (new entry – 39), The Duncombe Arms, Ashbourne (new entry – 41), Heft, High Newton (43), The Broad Chare, Newcastle (44) and The Butchers Arms, Hepworth (new entry – 49).

The teams from the top three pubs celebrate at the Top 50 Gastropubs Awards 2023. Image: Top 50 Gastropubs

Top 50 Gastropubs Publisher Chris Lowe said: “We are thrilled to see such a strong list of contenders this year, including five new entrants. The Top 50 Gastropubs provides a space for food and drink lovers the opportunity to explore the best that the UK has to offer. We are delighted to host this year’s event at The Unruly Pig, showcasing the vast amount of talent across the UK”

The full Top 50 Gastropubs 2023 list is as follows:

  • 1 Parkers Arms, Newton-In-Bowland
  • 2 The Unruly Pig, Woodbridge
  • 3 Freemasons at Wiswell, Wiswell
  • 4 The Sportsman, Seasalter
  • 5 The Kentish Hare, Tunbridge Wells
  • 6 The Angel at Hetton, Hetton
  • 7 The White Swan at Fence, Fence
  • 8 The Hand & Flowers, Marlow
  • 9 The Fordwich Arms, Kent
  • 10 The Red Lion and Sun, London
  • 11 The Mariners, Rock
  • 12 The Cornish Arms, Tavistock
  • 13 The Harwood Arms, London
  • 14 Shibden Mill Inn, Halifax
  • 15 The Coach, Marlow
  • 16 The Beehive, Great Waltham
  • 17 The Cadeleigh Arms, Tiverton
  • 18 The Pack Horse, Hayfield
  • 19 Pyne Arms, Barnstaple
  • 20 The Black Swan, Ravenstondale
  • 21 The Moorcock Inn, Sowerby Bridge
  • 22 The Guinea Grill, London
  • 23 The Baring, London
  • 24 The Masons Arms, Knowstone
  • 25 Canton Arms, London
  • 26 The Rat Inn, Anick, Hexham
  • 27 The Pipe and Glass, Beverley
  • 28 The Longs Arms, South Wraxall
  • 29 The Dog at Wingham, Canterbury
  • 30 The Felin Fach Griffin, Brecon
  • 31 The Hardwick, Abergavenny
  • 32 The Loch and The Tyne, Old Windsor
  • 33 The Bull & Last, London
  • 34 The White Horse, Brancaster
  • 35 The Black Bull, Sedbergh
  • 36 The Swan, Bampton
  • 37 The Bell Inn, Langford
  • 38 Scran and scallie, Edinburgh
  • 39 The Dog & Gun Inn, Skelton
  • 40 The Duck Inn, Stanhoe
  • 41 The Duncombe Arms, Ashbourne
  • 42 The Black Bear Inn, Usk – Wales
  • 43 Heft, High Newton
  • 44 The Broad Chare, Newcastle
  • 45 Woods, Dulverton
  • 46 The Gunton Arms, Norwich
  • 47 The French House, London
  • 48 The Eagle, Farringdon, London
  • 49 The Butchers Arms, Hepworth
  • 50 Royal Oak, Whatcote

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