The top gastropubs near to Greater Manchester in 2021

It’s been a difficult year for the hospitality industry, with pubs across the country having spent much of the time closed.

As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, and the weather starts to get a little warmer, many of us are already booking in to our favourite pubs.

For those pondering about where to eat and drink first, the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs Awards couldn’t have come at a better time.

Whilst none of the gastropubs selected are in Greater Manchester, many of those that made the top 100 list, are just a short drive away from the city.

If you fancy a drive into the Peak District, or popping over the border to Cheshire or Lancashire, an array of pubs have been selected as some of the best in the country.

The “Estrella Damm” Top 50 Gastropub Awards were voted for by top foodies and hospitality experts.

These include gastropub operators (who can’t vote for their own pubs), food writers, pubco catering development managers and executive chefs, celebrity and top hospitality industry chefs, pub guide editors, industry chiefs and food operators.

The Morning Advertiser editor Ed Bedington said: “Winning or being shortlisted as a finalist is an excellent way of getting your pub – and yourself – the recognition that you deserve.

“Getting on this list is the jewel in the crown for foodie pubs across the UK. It’s the place to be seen.”

Votes are cast in a poll of hundreds of industry experts, including top chefs, food writers, pubco chiefs, pub-guide editors and top suppliers to bring you this definitive list of the best gastropubs in Britain.

Here are the list of top 100 gastropubs within an hour’s drive of Greater Manchester.

The Parkers Arms, Lancashire – no 4

The Parkers Arms

Situated on the outskirts of Clitheroe, the Parkers Arms’ isolated location works in its favour, commanding stunning views out of rolling hills whether you visit in summer or winter.

Menu highlights have included pheasant escalope in sourdough and Kirkham’s crumb with cranberry relish; Newton venison with local bramble and unpasteurised cheese; and Lancashire hogget hotpot with damson pickled red cabbage.

There are also a variety of pub classics available including top quality steaks; fish and chips; and of course, Madi’s famous pies.

Journey time from Manchester – around one hour

Freemasons at Wiswell, Clitheroe, Lancashire – no 6

The Freemasons at Wiswell

Food at the Freemasons is all about contrast – experimental meeting traditional. Smith fuses locally sourced ingredients and his love of the classics with wild, sharp world flavours.

Menu highlights have included foie gras with beer vinegar, blackberry and smoked eel; roast loin and kofta of Nidderdale lamb with BBQ gem lettuce, miso aubergine, mint and yoghurt; as well as butter-poached native lobster tail with crispy claw wontons, wild blueberry, coastal herbs and black pepper sauce.

Desserts have included rice pudding baked with vanilla, blackberry, sake and buttermilk ice cream; Amalfi lemon meringue pie; and dark chocolate with banana, black sesame and yuzu.

Journey time from Manchester – 50 minutes

The White Swan at Fence, Burnley, Lancashire – no 23

White Swan at Fence

To put it simply, the White Swan at Fence is a local pub that serves food, real ales and fine wines – and nothing more, according to the owners.

The pub is backed by brewer Timothy Taylor’s and fronted by fantastic foursome Gareth, Laura, Liv and a mischievous genius Tom Parker in the kitchen.

Wit surrounds an elegant menu and interior at the White Swan, which is apparent from the pub’s website that describes chef Parker thus: “This is Tom. Among other things, Tom is very good at chopping chives. Tom cooks your food. Be like Tom.”

Journey time from Manchester – 50 minutes

The Moorcock Inn, Sowerby, West Yorkshire – no 39

The Moorcock Inn

The Moorcock Inn at Norland Moor offers an ever-evolving seasonal menu alongside views over West Yorkshire’s Ryburn Valley.

The modestly self-proclaimed “cosy” pub champions traditional homesteading techniques, cooking over fire and the sourcing of high-quality local, seasonal and wild ingredients and purchases whole animals from a select few local small holdings that mostly work with the Rare Breed Survival Trust for its menu.

The Moorcock’s green credentials see it sustainably fish in native waters – never snapping up fish from trawlers – and use organic, sometimes home-grown, sometimes foraged, vegetables.

Journey time from Manchester – 45 minutes

Shibden Mill Inn, Halifax, West Yorkshire – no 48

The Shibden Mill Inn

Nestled in photogenic Shibden Valley, 17 th century West Yorkshire pub the Shibden Mill Inn in Fold, Halifax, made its Top 50 Gastropub debut on the 2020 list.

On the à la carte menu, you can expect to find dishes such as puffed cod skins with horseradish and crème fraîche; baked cheddar with ale bread and Marmite butter; and Shibden Ale sausage roll with caramelised apple ketchup to nibble on.

Starters have included barbecue turnip with white bean, apple and savoy; Yorkshire game pressing with pickled walnut purée, candied walnuts and turnip cream; and cured monkfish with pumpkin, dukkah spice and strawberry vinegar.

Mains have consisted of halibut loin with Romanesco, black pudding, apple, radish, potatoes confit in crustacean oil and bisque sauce; Waterford beef loin, Jacob’s Ladder, celeriac, malt and onions; and salt-baked celeriac with hen of the woods, baron bigod, hispi cabbage and burnt apple.

Journey time from Manchester – around an hour

The Cartford Inn, Preston, Lancashire – no 67

Food at the Cartford Inn

A previous winner of the Great British Pub Awards, this pub offers diners a strong range of pub classics and flavoursome modern dishes.

Previous menus have included a 8oz fillet of beef mains, with hasselback potato, bone marrow and chive butter, wild mushrooms, red wine and blue cheese croquette.

Diners could also enjoy a Goosnargh duck leg and bean cassoulet with Dijon mustard, black pudding sausage, and Cheshire oak smoked bacon.

Its grand fruits de mer lobster dish (for two people) includes (per person) half a lobster, half a crab or crab claws or dressed crabs, oysters, crevettes, prawns, langoustines, cold steamed clams, mussels with seafood cocktail sauce and crusty bread.

Journey time from Manchester – around an hour

The Roebuck Inn, Knutsford, Cheshire – no 70

The Roebuck Inn

Operators Mary Mclaughlin and Tim Bird transformed this site in 2016, focusing resoratiotion efforts on creating a ‘petit hotel and bistro’ atmosphere within a classic old English inn.

The inn, based in the village of Mobberley, boasts six boutique bedrooms.

Dishes on offer include tempura monkfish, served with Thai sweet and sour sauce, fragrant rice, carrots and spring onions, as well as slow braised lamb shoulder massaman curry, turmeric rice with onion seeds, garlic and herb naan.

On its pizza menu, diners can enjoy combinations such as dry cure back bacon, sauteed white onion and mascarpone with parmesan and basil.

Journey time from Manchester – 35 minutes

The Pack Horse, Hayfield, High Peak – no 76

Food at the Pack Horse, Hayfield
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

British, seasonal fruit and veg is a top priority at this contemporary gastropub.

Head chef Luke Payne says: “Everything we do is driven by my passion to provide a menu that highlights the best seasonal, sustainable, ethically-sourced British produce.

“We also aim to ensure our farmers and suppliers receive a fair deal for their commitment to providing us with quality ingredients that are nurtured and respected all the way form the farms, through our kitchen to your plate.

“Eat well and in good conscience.”

Fish dishes comes from boats off the north-west coast, caught using sustainable methods where possible.

Local lamb, hogget and mutton is specifically selected by local suppliers from an abattoir 4 miles away.

Here’s what we thought when we visited in 2019.

Journey time from Manchester – 45 minutes

The Fox and Barrel, Tarporley, Cheshire – no 80

The Fox and Barrel

One of Cheshire’s finest country pubs, as recommended in the Good Food Guide for many years, the Fox & Barrel is a freehouse offering dishes containing the highest quality ingredients and paired with a wide range of beers, local real ales and wines.

The dog-friendly pub prides itself on the friendly, attentive services in a traditional, relaxing atmosphere with beamed ceilings and welcoming open fires.

Executive chef Richard (Dickie) Cotterill uses only the best raw materials and locally sourced ingredients to produce fresh daily menus and a succession of superb dishes.

Diners can feast on chorizo and squid risotto served with Manchego cheese and squid ink tuile and beetroot tarte tarin with chicory, goat’s curd and orange dressing.

Journey time from Manchester – around 50 minutes

The Higher Buck, Clitheroe, Lancashire – no 92

The Higher Buck

Nestled on the edge of the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire’s Ribble Valley, this gem of an inn has a high reputation and loyal following for its good, honest dishes, fine ales and gorgeous bedrooms.

The pub is renowned for its culinary classics, innovative favourites, which are lovingly crafted from local produce of the highest quality.

Menu standouts include treacle-roasted pig’s cheek, served with champ mash and roasted onion or spiced butternut squash and chestnut pie.

For those who fancy something a little lighter, you can try the poached pear salad with pickled beetroot and goats cheese or the local Lancashire cheese souffle with dressed leaves and apple chutney.

Journey time from Manchester – around an hour.

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