Hilltop pub in rural England named best in Britain

A country pub in a small village in rural England that gastro-ports diners back centuries with traditional British fare has been named the best in Britain.

Set high on a hilltop with an arresting view of the bucolic Northumberland and Tyneside countryside in the northwest of England, The Feathers Inn took top honors at the 2011 Great British Pub of the Year awards. The annual contest is organized by trade publication The Morning Advertiser.

Last week's win is the latest title for the Stocksfield tavern, helmed by a young couple who took over the pub just four years ago. Since taking over the kitchen, the Hedley-on-the-Hill eatery has enjoyed almost immediate success with mentions in The Good Food Guide 2009 as well as the Michelin Eating out in Pubs 2009 guide.

Using local ingredients and regional suppliers, the pub's dinner and Sunday lunch menus read like prose from a Jane Austen novel.

For example, a main course from the sample dinner menu - offerings change daily depending on seasonality - includes roast new season Minesteracres red leg partridge, roast potatoes, cabbage and bacon, chipolatas, bread sauce, fried bread crumbs, red currant jelly, watercress and game gravy. Minesteracres is a retreat center in Northumberland while chipolatas is a fancy word for thin, breakfast-style sausage. The main dish is listed as £15 (€17).

Then there's local rabbit saddle stuffed with black pudding, fondant potato, cream cider sauce, and buttered  kale for £12 (€14).

Judges chose the pub for its "excellent food offer," drinks range and community focus.

Meat and fish are purchased from ethical suppliers, the restaurateurs say: animal welfare is a priority when choosing meat suppliers; the pub does not serve endangered species or fish in its breeding season.

In addition to locally sourced ingredients, the pub also serves a range of small-scale micro-brewed ales, lagers and bitters, whiskies and bourbons in an intimate setting with open fires and exposed brickwork.

While most of the reader reviews on TripAdvisor.com are positive describing the pub as cozy, unpretentious and the food "expertly cooked," a few diners expressed their disappointment over the ‘hype.'

"The food was reasonable in quality, but not quantity and overpriced. Probably won't visit again," wrote one reviewer in August.

Here are the other winners of the Great British Pub Awards:

Best Food Pub - the Old Inn, Holton, Somerset?Best Gastropub - The Feathers Inn, Hedley-on-the Hill, Northumberland?
Best Family Pub
- The Saddle Inn, Lea, Lancashire?Best Tenanted/Leased Pub - The Hare & Hounds, Corsham, Wiltshire
Best Freehouse Pub
- The Carpenters Arms, Felixkirk, North Yorkshire?
Best Community Pub - The Five Bells in Colne Engaine, Essex?
Best Managed Pub -The Joshua Bradley, Gee Cross, Cheshire
Best Smoking Area
- Ye Olde Whyte Lyon, Locksbottom, Kent
Best Live Music Pub - The Brickmakers, Norwich, Norfolk
Best Entertainment Pub
- Ock 'n' Dough, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire
Best Sports Pub
- The Globe Inn, Chichester, West Sussex?Best Cellar - The Hut in Uxbridge, Middlesex?
Best Cask Beer Pub
- Old Spot Inn in Dursley, Gloucestershire
Best Newcomer - Justin Brown from The Sun Inn, in Dummer, Hampshire?
Best Turnaround Pub
- The Half Moon, Putney, London SW15

http://www.greatbritishpubawards.co.uk/

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