County Dining Pubs of the Year Awards 2013 - A-L
Every year the editors of the Good Pub Guide take the opportunity to rate the very finest Dining Pubs across Great Britain. The rise of the Dining Pub over the past 20 years has been one of the key features of the industry - and here we celebrate the very finest right across the country.
We have split the list in two - so here are the pubs in counties A - L. You can see the pubs in counties M - Z here.
View Good Pub Guide County Dining Pubs of the Year Awards 2013 in a larger map
Bedfordshire Dining Pub of the Year
Contemporary décor in old building, imaginative food, good wine list, and lovely garden with attractive terraces; bedrooms
The beautifully presented interior of this low beamed cottage is tended with loving attention to detail. It's been comfortably refurbished with warm mulberry and cream walls, fluffy cushions on comfortable banquettes, and red leather armchairs on modern wood-strip and stone flooring. Attentive staff serve Adnams and Fullers London Pride, over a dozen wines by the glass and good coffee from the long green slate bar counter. Outside, the various terraces with their individual furnishings and mature topiary give a pleasant garden room feel - one terrace is prettily surrounded by white wicket fencing and gives on to a neatly kept garden with a play area.
Berkshire Dining Pub of the Year
Handsome old inn by the village square with beamed and panelled rooms, lovely flowers, local beers, imaginative modern bar food, friendly service and seats in pretty garden; comfortable bedrooms
Under a newish owner, this is an elegantly handsome brick-built inn with a lot of civilised character. The charming rooms have plenty of space for an imaginative meal or a quiet drink and with the West Berkshire brewery actually in the village, the four real ales on handpump are on tip top form; the wines by the glass are well chosen. There are beams and panelling, an appealing choice of wooden dining chairs around interesting tables, some half-panelled wall seating, rugs on quarry tiles or wooden floorboards, plenty of prints on brick, cream or red walls, lovely flower arrangements and four log fires. Under the trellising in the walled back garden are wicker armchairs and tables and there are picnic-sets under parasols at the front. The light and attractive bedrooms overlook the village square or garden. The pub is only ten minutes from Newbury Racecourse and does get pretty busy on race days.
Buckinghamshire Dining Pub of the Year
Civilised dining pub with nice little bar, a fine choice of wines by the glass, real ales, good service, and excellent food
Always friendly and welcoming, this little white-washed pub remains as popular as ever with our readers. And whilst many customers are here for the imaginative food, you will be made just as welcome by the helpful staff if it's just a pint and a chat that you want. Locals tend to head for the low-beamed cosy snug, closest to the car park, which has three small tables, a woodburning stove in an exposed brick fireplace (with a big pile of logs beside it), Rebellion IPA and Smuggler (and Mutiny in summer) on handpump, 22 wines by the glass (all from Europe), nine pudding wines, a good choice of liqueurs and farm cider. Several attractively decorated areas open off the central bar: the half-panelled walls variously painted in pale blue, green or cream (though the dining room ones are red). Throughout, there's a mix of church chairs, stripped wooden tables and chunky wall seats, with rugs on the partly wooden, partly flagstoned floors, co-ordinated cushions and curtains, and a very bright, airy feel; thoughtful extra touches enhance the tone: a bowl of olives on the bar, carefully laid-out newspapers and fresh flowers or candles on the tables. Board games and background music. A sunny terrace with good solid tables leads to an appealing garden, there's a smaller side and a kitchen herb garden, and pétanque. Red kites regularly fly over.
Cambridgeshire Dining Pub of the Year
Imaginative food in pretty pub, extensive wine list, four interesting beers, a bustling atmosphere, and smart restaurant
After each visit, we start planning the next one' one of our enthusiastic readers tells us. And this well run, pretty pub is just the sort of place that customers do return to again and again as it cleverly manages to appeal to both drinkers and diners. The bar rooms have dark or white-painted beams, lots of contemporary pale yellow and cream paintwork, artwork here and there, fresh flowers and church candles, and throughout a really attractive mix of old wooden dining chairs, settles and tables. They've sensibly kept the traditional public bar on the left for drinkers only: an open woodburning stove on the raised hearth, bar stools, wall seats and a carver, steps that lead down to more seating, Brewsters Hophead, Great Oakley Wagtail and Welland Valley Mild and Tydd Steam Barn Ale on handpump, 17 wines by the glass and local farm cider; they hold a beer festival every August Bank Holiday weekend. In marked contrast, the stylishly simple spotless restaurant on the right - you must book to be sure of a table is set for dining with flowers on each table, pale wooden floorboards and another woodburning stove. There are seats and tables among stone troughs and flowers in the neat garden and lovely hanging baskets.
Cheshire Dining Pub of the Year
Civilised chatty dining pub attractively filled with good furniture in thoughtfully laid-out rooms; very enjoyable food, lovely garden with pretty views
A steady flow of enthusiastic reader reports confirm that this village pub is on terrific form. Although opened up and gently refurbished, its rooms retain a cosy cottagey feel and have an easy-going sociable atmosphere - there is a genuinely friendly welcome here. Neatly kept, they ramble gently around the pleasantly lit central bar. Cream walls keep it all light, clean and airy, with deep venetian red ceilings adding cosiness, and each room (some with good winter fires) is nicely furnished with an appealing variety of well spaced sturdy wooden tables and chairs, a couple of tall filled bookcases and just the right amount of carefully chosen bric-a-brac, properly lit pictures and plants. Flooring ranges from red and black tiles to stripped boards and some carpet. Service is efficient and friendly. Phoenix Brunning & Price Original, Timothy Taylors Landlord and three guests such as Adnams, Caledonian Deuchars IPA and Fullers London Pride are on handpump alongside a good selection of 17 wines by the glass from a list of about 70 bottles, and just over 20 malts. Sturdy wooden tables on the terrace and picnic-sets on the lawn in the neatly kept slightly elevated garden are lovely in summer, with views of the splendid church at the end of this pretty village, and the distant Peckforton Hills beyond.
Cornwall Dining Pub of the Year
Stunning position for carefully refurbished inn, a civilised, friendly atmosphere, character furnishings, a good choice of wines and first rate food; bedrooms with sea views
With a delightful garden that leads down to rock pools and on the edge of an old fishing village, this inn has been carefully refurbished by the owners, two brothers who also run the Gurnards Head (also Cornwall) and the Griffin at Felinfach in Wales, both much loved by our readers. We have high hopes for this, too. Throughout, the walls are painted in their trademark bold colours and hung with paintings of local scenes and sailing boats, the floors are stripped boards and the atmosphere is one of informal but civilised comfort. The Upper Deck houses the bar and the restaurant and there's a happy mix of antique dining chairs around tables of oak and distressed pine, lamps on big barrel tables and chairs to either side of the log fire, topped by its vast bressumer beam. St Austell and Skinners beers on handpump, a good choice of wine in two glass sizes, by carafe and bottle. The Lower Deck has glass windows that run the whole length of the building and several deep sofas and armchairs and shelves of books and games. There are seats on the terrace overlooking Mount's Bay and St Clement's Island and tropical palms and dracaenas in the garden. Most of the bedrooms overlook the water; they don't charge for dogs staying overnight and offer them free biscuits.
Cumbria Dining Pub of the Year
Emphasis on imaginative food but with local beers and thoughtful wines, a pubby atmosphere and a warm welcome from the helpful staff
Once again, we've had nothing but praise for this civilised and immaculately kept 17th-c dining pub. There's a cosy bar of charming antiquity with country pine and dark wood furniture, lots of brasses on the beams, church candles on all the tables and a good log fire in the attractive stone inglenook. Friendly, courteous staff serve Barngates Tag Lag, Hesket Newmarket Doris's 90th Birthday Ale and Tirril Old Faithful on handpump and around a dozen good wines by the glass, 12 malt whiskies and Weston's Old Rosie cider. Two restaurant areas have oak floors, panelled oak walls and heavy beams; background music. There are seats on the terrace and in the garden. They have a self-catering cottage to let and the pub is handy for Ullswater.
Derbyshire Dining Pub of the Year
Comfortable dining pub usefully placed for exploring the Peak District, with good food, beer and wine, waterside garden, and bedrooms
Readers tell us they have have felt very welcome and really enjoyed the food at this immaculately kept 16th-c inn. Still fairly traditional, the neat and tidy interior has rows of dark wood tables (with cruets giving away the emphasis on dining) and a long banquette running almost the length of one wall on bright tartan and oriental patterned carpets. There's a big log fire and a woodburning stove, decorative plates are displayed on terracotta walls and pewter tankards hang from a dark beam; quiet background music. They've a good wine list (with nearly two dozen by the glass), 25 malt whiskies, and Adnams, Black Sheep and Timothy Taylors on handpump. One of the most appealing aspects is the 9 acre grounds in a lovely spot on the banks of the River Derwent - the pretty garden slopes right down to the water and there's a lovely suntrap courtyard.
Devon Dining Pub of the Year
Spreading bar plus several other rooms in this pleasant inn, well liked drinks and bar food, and seats on three terraces
Very popular locally - always a good sign - this bustling pub is neatly kept and run by a friendly landlord and his helpful staff. The attractively furnished spreading bar with its woodburning stove has several different areas that radiate off the big semicircular bar counter: unusual windows, some beams, dark pine and other nice old dining chairs around solid tables and yellow leather bar chairs. Leading off here is a cosy little candlelit room with just four tables on the bare-boarded floor, a dark wood dado and stone fireplace. There's also a restaurant with a large stone fireplace and at the other end of the building, a similarly interesting room is split into two parts with a stone floor in one and a wooden floor in the other (which has a big woodburning stove). The old barn holds yet another restaurant with displays by local artists. Bays Gold, Otter Ale and St Austell Dartmoor Best and Tribute on handpump, 15 wines by the glass and several malt whiskies; background music. There are picnic-sets on three carefully maintained grassy terraces behind the pub.
Dorset Dining Pub of the Year
Charming thatched pub in pretty village, with real ales in airy bars, good, popular food, friendly staff and seats outside; comfortable bedrooms
A delightful setting, friendly licensees and terrific food all combine to make this 17th-c thatched inn a real winner. The beamed bar has wooden tables and chairs on flagstones, plenty of old black and white photos, a light oak counter with recessed lighting, and three local real ales from brewers such as Flack Manor, Ringwood and Sixpenny on handpump; TV in the public bar. The restaurant and conservatory are in an attractively reworked stable and the skittle alley doubles as a family room during the day; background music. Dogs are allowed only in the Carpenters Bar and in the comfortable bedrooms (in a modern block at the back). In fine weather, you can sit out in front or at teak tables in the back garden; there's also a wood-chip children's play area. The pub is next to the church in a charming village with a ford.
Essex Dorset Dining Pub of the Year
Lovely old historic pub with great food and very good range of drinks; attractive bedrooms
Although in the same family for over 70 years this beautiful Tudor inn is definitely not resting on its well deserved laurels - high standards are always a watch-word here. Although emphasis is on the good food, the heavily beamed bar maintains a strongly pubby appearance and stocks a great range of drinks. It's furnished with lovely high-backed antique settles and benches, with rugs on the flagstones and highly polished oak floorboards. Look out for the curious collection of ossified hot cross buns hanging along a beam in the saloon bar. The first was put there some 90 years ago to mark the day that Jack Turnell became licensee (it was a Good Friday). The hanging tradition continues to this day, but now the oldest available person in the village hangs the bun each year. During the war, privations demanded that they hang a concrete bun. The impressive range of drinks includes Bass (tapped straight from the cask), Crouch Vale Brewers Gold, Greene King IPA, Sharps Doom Bar and guests such as Batemans Hooker and Exmoor Antler and over a hundred well chosen wines (16 by the glass). You do need to get here early or book as tables are often all taken soon after opening time. Two giant umbrellas cover the courtyard, which is very pretty is summer with hanging baskets.
Gloucestershire Dining Pub of the Year
Handsome Georgian inn with a fine range of drinks, excellent food, friendly staff and lovely views from seats outside; smart bedrooms
This lovely pub never fails to delight' and what a gem of a place' are just two comments from our many enthusiastic readers about this particularly well run honey-coloured stone inn. The licensee brothers and their staff are unfailingly polite and friendly and you are made just as welcome if it's only a drink and a chat that you want rather than a leisurely meal (though it would be a pity to miss out on the delicious food). The pubby bar is light and airy with a nice mix of wooden chairs and tables on bare boards, stripped-stone walls, a good log fire, Goffs Jouster and guests like Cotswold Wheat Beer and Premium Lager, Festival Gold or Wye Valley Ruby Ale on handpump, local cider, and 20 wines by the glass. There are plenty of original features throughout. The large back garden has lots of seats under smart umbrellas and fine views over the surrounding countryside. It's best to get here early to be sure of a space in the smallish car park. This is a lovely place to stay. Batsford Arboretum is not far away.
Hampshire Dining Pub of the Year
First-class food and wines in gently upmarket village pub
If you love wine and chocolates, then this friendly and civilised pub is just the place for you. Every Tuesday they hold a Wine Club evening where for just £5 corkage you can bring a special wine of your own to eat with your meal and talk about with other interested customers; they also hold regular wine tasting events. The delicious truffles and chocolates that they sell are all made by the landlord's father. There are two pairs of smallish linked rooms, all with an easy-going country pub feel. On the left, the airy front bar has chunky tables, including ones so tall as to need bar stools, and a corner counter serving a fine changing choice of wines, as well as Andwell Spring Twist and Flack Manor Double Drop on handpump; this opens into a jute-floored back area with four dining tables and characterful mixed seats including old settles. The right-hand front room has red leather sofas and armchairs by a log fire, and goes back into a bare-boards area with three or four sturdy pale pine tables. An understated contemporary décor in grey and puce goes nicely with the informal friendliness of the service; there may be unobtrusive piped pop music. The sizeable sloping garden has well spaced picnic-sets, a wendy house and perhaps a big hammock slung between two of its trees; there are teak tables on a terrace sheltered by the pub. This is an attractive village, with nearby snowdrop walks in February.
Herefordshire Dining Pub of the Year
Terrific food using tip-top ingredients served in extensive dining rooms; real ales and a fine choice of other drinks, and two-acre garden and comfortable bedrooms
Our readers love this charming place and while the excellent food remains the main draw (this is one of Britain's top dining pubs, after all), it's still very much a pub rather than a pure restaurant and the staff are genuinely welcoming and courteous. The little bar (they hope to enlarge it at some point soon) is comfortably hospitable with a civilised atmosphere, a fine collection of 200 jugs attached to the ceiling, Wye Valley Bitter, Ludlow Gold and a guest such as Wye Valley Butty Bach on handpump, nine house wines by the glass (there's also a carefully chosen 100-strong bin list), local potato and apple vodkas, local gins, farm cider, and quite a choice of spirits. The two-acre garden has seats on the terrace and a croquet lawn. The accommodation is in bedrooms above the pub and in a Georgian vicarage four minutes' walk away; super breakfasts.
Hertfordshire Dining Pub of the Year
Thriving dining pub with a chic interior, good food from imaginative menu, and a thoughtful wine list
This pretty Victorian pub stands by a village green and is surrounded by lovely National Trust woodland. It's usually full to the brim with cheerful diners - though you might still find a few locals chatting at the bar. The fashionably elegant but understated interior has simple prints on pale cream walls, with blocks picked out in rich Victorian green or dark red, and an appealing mix of good antique furniture (from Georgian chairs to old commode stands) on bare boards and patterned quarry tiles. It's all pulled together by luxuriously opulent curtains; darts and piped jazz. All the wines on their list are european, with most of them available by the glass, and they have Sharps Doom Bar, Rebellion Smuggler and a guest brewer such as Tring on handpump. There are plenty of tables outside.
Isle of Wight Dining Pub of the Year
Happy pub with seafood specialities, good beers and wines, too
Readers enjoy the genuinely cheerful atmosphere at this nice old 18th-c former fishermen's haunt, and we think it gets better and better, with more attention to detail, from one year to the next. Its rambling rooms have plenty of character with warm fires, yachting photographs and pictures, boarded ceilings and scrubbed-pine tables on flagstone, carpet and slate floors. Sharps Doom Bar and a couple of guests such as Goddards Ale of Wight and Yates Golden are on handpump, and they stock over 60 wines; background music. As it's popular, you will need to book and there may be double sittings in summer; dogs are only allowed in areas with stone floors
Kent Dining Pub of the Year
Pubby beamed rooms of considerable individuality, log fires, imaginative food and pretty garden
The simple huddled down exterior of this appealingly civilised place, with its low-slung roof and little windows, is absolutely delightful, and its little low-beamed rooms have exactly the charmingly timeless feel you'd hope for. They are simply done out with plain wooden furniture and old settles on flagstones and coir matting, some harness and sporting prints on the stripped-brick walls and good log fires. The public bar on the left is quite down-to-earth, with darts, dominoes and cribbage. Adnams Best and Old and a guest from a brewer such as Franklins tapped straight from casks racked behind the counter, several wines by the glass, local Biddenden cider and apple juice and several malt whiskies. But don't be misled into thinking this place is in any way old fashioned. In fact, the candlelit bare-boards restaurant though rurally rustic in its décor is chatty and alive with customers and the style of dining is completely up to date. French windows open from the restaurant to a conservatory and garden. Sissinghurst Gardens are nearby.
Lancashire Dining Pub of the Year
Successful all-rounder with antiques in stylishly simple interior, great food, interesting range of beers, appealing rustic garden
Charming and stylish, this is a carefully run country pub with a friendly, civilised atmosphere. It's largely open-plan and discerningly furnished with a lovely mix of small old oak chairs, an attractive oak coffer, several handsomely carved antique oak settles (the finest apparently made partly from a 16th-c wedding bed-head), old hunting prints and engravings, and low hop-draped beams. There are red walls and coir matting up a step and oriental rugs on ancient flagstones in front of the fine old stone fireplace and counter; the pub's dogs are called Betty and Doris. Friendly young staff serveThwaites Original alongside five guests from brewers such as Copper Dragon, George Wright and Phoenix, a farm cider, decent wines and around 30 malt whiskies. They hold a popular beer festival over the first May bank holiday weekend. The gently rustic spacious garden has a well tended but unconventional bowling green, and beyond this, a wild area that is home to crested newts and moorhens. Selling interesting wines and pottery, the terrific shop housed in the handsome side barn includes a proper butcher and a deli.
Leicestershire & Rutland Dining Pub of the Year
A special place for an exceptional meal in comfortable surroundings, fine choice of drinks, and luxury bedrooms
The various small but charmingly attractive bars at this very thoughtfully run place have a relaxed country cottage atmosphere, with dark joists and beams, rustic furniture, an interesting mix of pictures (some by local artists), candles on tables, and a cosy log fire in the stone inglenook fireplace. Many of the books dotted around were bought at antiques fairs by one of the partners and are sometimes for sale; background music. A carefully chosen range of drinks includes Grainstore Olive Ale and a guest such as Timothy Taylor on handpump, an enticing wine list (with about a dozen by the glass), a fine choice of malt whiskies, armagnacs and cognacs, and quite a few different british and continental bottled beers. Outside, there are tables, chairs and big plant pots on a pretty little terrace, with more on the neat lawn, sheltered in the L of its two low buildings. This is a great place to make a weekend of it as their bedrooms (just opposite in Beech House with delicious breakfasts) are lovely. It can get pretty busy at peak times.
Lincolnshire Dining Pub of the Year
Handsome coaching inn, beautifully relaxed and civilised, with very good (though pricey) food and wines, and lovely courtyard and garden; bedrooms
You can choose from any number of places to settle down (and you probably won't want to leave) at this carefully preserved and rather grand old coaching inn, which is an exceptional place on all counts. Very civilised but not in the least stuffy, its various lovely areas are furnished with all manner of seats from leather, cane and antique wicker to soft sofas and easy chairs - there's a room to suit all occasions. The central lounge is particularly striking with sturdy timbers, broad flagstones, heavy beams and massive stonework. Though the York Bar is nicely pubby with a relaxed, local feel, you might not feel comfortable turning up in walking gear. There's an oak-panelled restaurant (jacket or tie required) and a less formal Garden Room Restaurant which has well spaced furniture on herringbone glazed bricks around a central tropical planting. The staff are professional and friendly, with waiter drinks' service in the charming cobbled courtyard at the back, with comfortable chairs and tables among attractive plant tubs and colourful hanging baskets on the ancient stone buildings. A fine range of drinks includes Adnams Broadside, Grainstore Triple B and a guest on handpump, an excellent choice of wines (many of which are italian), with about 17 by the glass, and freshly squeezed orange juice. The immaculately kept walled garden is beautifully planted and there's a sunken lawn where croquet is often played.
London Dining Pub of the Year
Top-notch gastropub, pricey but worth it, great views from the riverside terrace, plenty of character and history, well chosen wines
One of the main draws here is the long narrow terrace behind this busy riverside pub with uninterrupted views of the 02 Centre across a broad sweep of the Thames; heaters and huge umbrellas make it welcoming even on cooler days. The two rooms nearest the terrace are the nicest: a busy flagstoned bar for drinkers with antique guns on the wall and no tables - just a large barrel in the centre of the room that shares a log fire with the cosy red-painted room next door with its comfy leather sofas and armchairs, a stuffed boar's head, some modern prints, well stocked bookshelves and views on to the terrace. Crisp white walls and smart white tablecloths and napkins on tables at one end of the main bar contrast strikingly with dark wood floors and the black wood counter at the other. Adnams Bitter and a couple of guests from Dark Star and Sambrooks on handpump and several wines by the glass served by neatly aproned staff; background music. They may occasionally close the pub on Saturdays for weddings, and will keep your credit card if you are sitting on the terrace and want to run a tab.