Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

Seaside Pub Beats London's Priciest in Top 100 Restaurants

The Sportsman chef Stephen Harris quit working as a financial adviser and taught himself to cook.

The Sportsman, a seaside pub where the menu is on a blackboard and main dishes cost about £20 ($26), was named U.K. restaurant of the year, beating some of the biggest names in British gastronomy in a Top 100 list otherwise dominated by London establishments.

Chef Stephen Harris cooks with local produce, much of it fish caught off the coast of Kent, where The Sportsman is situated on a quiet road in Seasalter. The daily tasting menu, costing £45, may feature dishes such as lemon sole fillets with pea sauce, and angels on horseback. Several wines are offered at less than £20 a bottle.

Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

Barrafina, a tapas bar in London's Covent Garden, slipped to second place from first, and the Ledbury, in Notting Hill, placed third. The tasting menu at the Ledbury costs £115, while tasting menus start at £85 at Hedone, which came fourth.

Harris was working as a financial adviser when he decided to teach himself to cook. He subsequently quit his job and went to work in a professional kitchen for £8,000 a year in 1996. He took over the Sportsman in 1999 and has held a Michelin star since 2008.

Som Saa, a new Thai restaurant in East London, was named one to watch; Social Eating House won cocktail list of the year; Noble Rot triumphed for its wine list; and Pierre Koffmann received the lifetime achievement award. Phil Howard was named chefs' ehef of the year.

The Top 100 is based on the votes of more than 150 industry experts, including chefs, restaurateurs, food writers and critics, including this one.

2016 Winners List: U.K. Restaurant of the Year

Last year's ranking in parentheses

  1. The Sportsman, Seasalter (2)
  2. Barrafina Adelaide St, London (1)
  3. The Ledbury, London (3)
  4. Hedone, London (12)
  5. Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Port Isaac (20)
  6. The Clove Club, London (11)
  7. Piquet, London (-)
  8. L’Enclume, Cartmel (7) 
  9. Lyle’s, London (6)
  10. The River Café, London (36)
  11. The Walnut Tree, Abergavenny (14)
  12. Casamia, Bristol (19)
  13. The Dairy, London (9)
  14. Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottingham (8)
  15. Lake Road Kitchen, Ambleside (77) 
  16. 64 Degrees, Brighton (24)
  17. Hoppers, London (-)
  18. Le Gavroche, London (44)
  19. A Wong, London (23)
  20. Frenchie, London (-)
  21. Noble Rot, London (-)
  22. Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, Gleneagles (28)
  23. The Waterside Inn, Bray (63) 
  24. Black Axe Mangal, London (-)
  25. The Quality Chop House, London (34)
  26. Bell’s Diner and Bar Rooms, Bristol (-)
  27. The Man Behind the Curtain, Leeds (-)
  28. Fera at Claridge’s, London (17)
  29. Duck & Waffle, London (70)
  30. 40 Maltby Street, London (25)
  31. Hibiscus, London (39)
  32. The Elephant, Torquay (73)
  33. The Hand & Flowers, Marlow (5)
  34. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London (32)
  35. Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London (10)
  36. Hawksmoor Seven Dials, London (-)
  37. Birch, Bristol (-)
  38. Northcote, Langho (41)
  39. Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Great Milton (27)
  40. The Hardwick, Abergavenny (54)
  41. Portland, London (-)
  42. The Palomar, London (15)
  43. Midsummer House, Cambridge (29)
  44. Bao, London (-)
  45. Gymkhana, London (4)
  46. Pollen Street Social, London (57)
  47. The Seahorse, Dartmouth (22)
  48. Ellory, London (-)
  49. Alyn Williams at The Westbury, London (-)
  50. Manchester House, Manchester (98)
  51. Paul Ainsworth at Number 6, Padstow (18)
  52. Pitt Cue, London (58)
  53. Brawn, London (74)
  54. Otto’s, London (83)
  55. The Smoking Goat, London (-)
  56. Simpsons, Birmingham (-)
  57. The Manor, London (-)
  58. Oldroyd, London (-)
  59. The Coach, Marlow (67)
  60. Ondine, Edinburgh (-)
  61. The Ninth, London (-)
  62. Bocca Di Lupo, London (-)
  63. Kitchen Table, London (31)
  64. Social Eating House, London (38)
  65. Fraiche, Wirral (-)
  66. Restaurant Story, London (13)
  67. Marcus, London (78)
  68. The Fat Duck, Bray (94)
  69. The Wolseley, London (-)
  70. Wright’s Food Emporium, Llanarthney (80)
  71. Chez Bruce, London (-)
  72. Lurra, London (-)
  73. Primeur, London (-)
  74. Sticky Walnut, Chester (30)
  75. The Kitchin, Edinburgh (46)
  76. Tyddyn Llan, Llandrillo (79)
  77. The Colony Grill Room, London (-)
  78. Castle Terrace, Edinburgh (52)
  79. The French, Manchester (93)
  80. Darsham Nurseries, Darsham (-)
  81. El Gato Negro, Manchester (-)
  82. Snaps + Rye, London (-)
  83. Deanes Eipic, Belfast (-)
  84. The Wild Rabbit, Chipping Norton (99)
  85. Ynyshir Hall, Machynlleth (-)
  86. Theo Randall at the Intercontinental, London (-)
  87. Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill, London (-)
  88. Parkers Arms, Newton-In-Bowland (-)
  89. The Chilli Pickle, Brighton (42)
  90. The Pipe and Glass Inn, Beverley (-)
  91. Carters of Moseley, Birmingham (87)
  92. The Flitch of Bacon, Dunmow (-)
  93. Silo, Brighton (-)
  94. MEATliquor W1, London (89)
  95. Sartoria, London (-)
  96. Wilks, Bristol (-)
  97. Berners Tavern, London (65)
  98. Cafe Murano St James, London (-)
  99. House of Tides, Newcastle Upon Tyne (62)
  100. Driftwood Hotel, Portscatho (-)

Richard Vines is chief food critic for Bloomberg. Follow him on Twitter @richardvines and Instagram @richard.vines

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