Top eating out guide praises trio of pubs

INSPECTOR'S FAVOURITE: Owner Richard Sunderland at The Crown in Stoke-by-Nayland.

INSPECTOR'S FAVOURITE: Owner Richard Sunderland at The Crown in Stoke-by-Nayland.

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Three village pubs have been named among the best places to enjoy quality food and drink in the country.

The Crown in Stoke-by-Nayland, the Pheasant in Gestingthorpe and The Swan in Monks Eleigh are all referenced as top places to visit in The Michelin Eating Out in Pubs Guide 2014.

The Crown gets a special mention in the guide’s inspector’s favourite list.

Owner Richard Sunderland said being named in the book was a reward for all the hard work his staff put into making the pub a success.

“We have consistently been in the guide and it is fantastic for the business,” said Mr Sunderland, who has run the pub for 10 years. “It is great for the staff.”

Mr Sunderland said the business, which includes a three-star hotel, employs 55 people.

“We have a multi-faceted hospitality business, combining the hotel with a casual pub dining element, which uses fresh produce and has a heavy emphasis on real ale,” he said.

James Donoghue, who runs the Pheasant with his wife Diana, said it was the first time the pub had earned a place in the guide.

“It is like getting into the Premier League of the catering world,” said Mr Donoghue, who is the pub’s chef.

“Being a rural pub, we concentrate on quality rather than theatre. We have an ethos of using local food and keeping it fresh and simple.”

Nigel Robson, who took over The Swan with wife Carol 14 years ago, said the recognition helped to put the pub on the map.

“You always strive to get into guides,” he said. “It is a great source of publicity as it helps to let people know we are here.

“We try to be ourselves, while producing good food, service and a friendly atmosphere.”

Mr Robson said getting into the guide was a “pat on the back”.

“It is about people walking through the door and recommending us,” he said.