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The Sportsman in Seasalter and the Compasses in Canterbury among Kent pubs named in Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list

A Kent pub has come second at the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropub Awards, with four more of the county's taverns also making the list.

Other than in the capital, Kent has found itself with the highest number of gastropubs in the top 50.

The Sportsman in Seasalter
The Sportsman in Seasalter

The Sportsman in Seasalter stormed its way through the competition to second place, only narrowly beaten by London's Harwood Arms, which was crowned the winner.

Run by brothers Philip and Stephen Harris - the latter also the restaurant's self-taught head chef - the Faversham Road pub has earned a multitude of accolades over the years, including holding a Michelin star since 2008.

It specialises in "serving good food in relaxed and informal surroundings" and has become a popular haunt for celebrities - including football star Gary Lineker.

Having been named gastropub of the year five times, including last year, the Sportsman prides itself in using fresh, local ingredients such as oysters and fish from the Whitstable coast.

The fertile soils in the area also give the pub meat, vegetables and game and the staff even grow some of their own food, meaning fruit and vegetables may have been picked just moments before serving.

Highlights of the menu include poached rock oysters with pickled cucumber and Avruga caviar; slip sole grilled in seaweed butter; and smoked, maple-cured pork loin with chorizo sauce.

The Compasses Inn in Canterbury came in at number six on the list.

Rising 15 places from last year's ranking of 21, the Shepherd Neame establishment has really impressed the judges this time round.

Hidden above the Downs, the inn is run by husband and wife team Rob and Donna Taylor who have a wealth of knowledge gained in some of the best restaurants and hotels in London and Australia.

With meats coming from as little as a quarter of a mile down the road, and vegetables, herbs and fruits from their own garden, much like the Sportsman, they really have grasped the concept of fresh, local produce.

Donna describes the Compasses as a "muddy wellies and fine food kind of place".

The Compasses Inn, Canterbury
The Compasses Inn, Canterbury

Crispy confit duck with liver parfait, red wine glazed prunes and toast; and stour valley venison loin with potato terrine, beetroot puree and pickled blackberries are two examples of delicious meals on the menu.

The Fordwich Arms near Canterbury was another Kent pub which jumped a significant number of places this year - from 42nd to 17th.

Boasting a 1930's bar and oak-panelled dining room with three open fires, the pub also sits right on the Stour riverside, which gives rise to a beautiful dining terrace and garden with views over the water.

Chef-patron Daniel Smith's seasonal menu focuses on provenance, showcasing the best of Kentish ingredients, sourced direct from local farms and producers, delivered in a "relaxed, comfortable and welcoming style".

Tunbridge Wells' the Kentish Hare came in at number 28, and the Dog at Wingham in Canterbury ranked 49th.

More than 400 gastropub owners, food critics, executive chefs and other industry experts voted to decide which gastropubs across the UK made the top 50.

Daniel and Natasha Smith of the Fordwich Arms
Daniel and Natasha Smith of the Fordwich Arms

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