TWO HAMPSHIRE pubs took home top awards after getting a visit from a mystery diner.

The Cricketers Inn, in Curdridge and the Purefoy Arms in Preston Candover, won bronze and silver awards respectively for Pub of the Year by the Beautiful South Tourism Awards.

Both pubs had a visit from a mystery diner, who, once finished their meal, handed the landlords a letter explaining they were finalists for this years awards, which took place on April 25.

Purefoy Arms landlord and chef, Gordon Stott said: “It feels fantastic. I wanted gold but silver’s good. They were good pubs to go up against so I’m pretty happy with silver.

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“We’re just trying to reinvent pub food. People can come here for a burger or fish and chips as normal or come for a seven course tasting menu, which a lot of pubs don’t offer.”

Gordon continues to push his own boundaries, where he took home the award for the Best Chef title at the Great British Pub Awards in October 2021.

He said: “I want to offer something that people don’t really get in any other pub. We’re just trying to push the pub industry a little further on and make it more modern and stand out from the competition.”

The Cricketers Inn Pub landlord Stuart Downie, who was awarded bronze said: “We knew we were finalists after a mystery shop a few months ago. At the end of their lunch we received a letter letting us know. We were really packed and a member of staff down, but they had a great time.”

The Cricketers competed against The Blue Anchor in Crowborough, who took gold, and The Purefoy Arms, who took silver.

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The award comes after The Cricketers won Pub of the Year at the South Prestige Awards, where shortly after, they also announced they will compete for the National Pub & Bar of the Year in the 2022 National Pub & Bar Awards.

Speaking of his success, Stuart said: “It’s lovely. My business partners say I don’t seem to acknowledge it. I am, but I never want to get complacent.

“I think every day we open is really important to keep standards high and it’s making sure we give the same food and service as we give seven days a week.”

Stuart continues to aim high for his pub, with ambitions to get into the Estrella Top 50 Gastro pubs in the UK. He said: “ Hopefully we can aim towards that. Apart from that, it’s about giving the customer a good experience when they come to the pub.”

Fran Downton, chief executive of Tourism South East, said: “Congratulations to all our finalists. Achieving excellence is not easy, particularly in these past years.

“The strength of our winners is testament to the incredible standards and unwavering quality of these exceptional businesses, despite the challenges. I was blown away by the quality, positivity, and innovation of the tourism businesses we have across the south east.”