The Shepherd Neame-owned pub restaurant, run by brothers Stephen and Phil Harris, picked up the title at an awards event on Monday, January 29, after receiving the most votes in an industry poll organised by leading pub industry magazine The Morning Advertiser.
The Sportsman, which holds a Michelin star, also topped the Top 50 Gastropubs list in 2015 and 2016, and has been recognised with numerous accolades in recent years, including winning first place in the 2017 UK National Restaurant Awards.
Head chef Stephen Harris makes full advantage of The Sportsman’s rural location near the seaside town of Whitstable, churning his own butter, making his own salt, baking his own bread and using produce from local farms and fishermen.
Morning Advertiser editor Ed Bedington said:
“The Sportsman is a worthy pub to once again top the list. Stephen Harris has worked tirelessly to build his reputation, which stands stronger than ever in the culinary world.”
“We are thrilled to once again be named Britain’s best gastropub. We never take any award for granted, and this one is particularly special as it is voted for by our industry counterparts. We are lucky to have a fantastic team of staff, not just in the kitchen, but also front of house, who ensure that customers receive a special welcome and enjoy their food in a relaxed atmosphere. This award is a great recognition of everyone’s hard work throughout the year.”
Another Shepherd Neame pub, The Compasses in Crundale near Canterbury, was also recognised at the awards, taking 44th place on the list.
Judges were impressed by the pub’s comfortable atmosphere and use of exclusively local produce, and praised head chef Rob Taylor for ‘skillfully elevating every ingredient to its most sumptuous’ with ‘flourishes of ambitious flavours’.