The humble British gastropub now surpasses the French bistro in both culinary and service standards, according to veteran restaurant critic Egon Ronay.
Ronay's 2006 Guide to the Best Restaurants and Gastropubs in the UK rates 300 gastropubs, awarding 100 a one-star rating and 10 a top rating of two stars.
He said he had been "amazed" at the high standards demonstrated at what was a "thoroughly British institution". He added: "It all adds up to the conclusion that the top 300 British gastropubs surpass the majority of bistros in France, which offer humdrum food and surly service."
He said gastropubs had exploded around the country and were noticeable by their "surprisingly high standards of cooking and warm-hearted atmosphere - they're the biggest change in the catering scene in my 50 years' experience as a restaurateur and critic."
Ronay's Gastropub of the Year accolade went to one-Michelin-starred and three-times Catey winner the Star Inn at Harome in Yorkshire. The pub with rooms was commended for its "story-book charm" and chef-proprietor Andrew Pern's "admirably original" creations.
The guide's Restaurant of the Year title went to the recently opened China Tang at the Dorchester hotel in London.
Only four restaurants were awarded the maximum three stars, including Gordon Ramsay's Royal Hospital Road restaurant, which was controversially awarded only two stars last year.
Top UK Restaurants
- Gordon Ramsay, London
- Hibiscus, Ludlow
- Tom Aitkens, London
- Waterside Inn, Bray
Top UK Gastropubs
- The Alma, London
- Guinea Grill, London
- The House, London
- The Salusbury, London
- Balck Boys Inn, Hurley
- Bull's Head, Ashford in the Water
- The Star, Harome
- Three Fishes, Mitton
- The Waterdine, Llanfair Waterdine
- Yorke Arms, Ramsgill-in-Nidderdale
By Jessica Gunn