Last week, the pub trade magazine The Morning Advertiser released its list of The Top 50 Gastropubs in England, Scotland and Wales. London managed eight establishments on the list - not bad going - with the top slot countrywide going to the wonderful The Sportsman in Seasalter.
Hot Dinners caught up with Robert Webster-Shaw who has stakes in two of the eight (Anchor and Hope and The Canton Arms) - and another - the Magdalen Arms in Oxford which is also on the list - to find out his winning formula. "Firstly we’ve always created pubs that we would want to go to," he told us. "There has to be a passionate owner working at each one so the ethos and care passes through the workforce. And we serve food that you would be happy to eat frequently, using the best ingredients and a dedication to making every dish taste as good as possible." Crucially he says it must still be a working pub. "Many people come to us purely for a pint or two as well as coming for dinner. We always have an eating area and a drinking area so the atmosphere is really bustling."
Here's the full list of London pubs that made the grade this year.
6. The Drapers Arms
44 Barnsbury St, London N1 1ER
Need to know: Run by landlord Nick Gibson, the Drapers Arms has a reputation far wider than the usual neighbourhood pub. In the kitchen is Head Chef Luke Frankie who was previously Head Chef at Stevie Parle's Dock Kitchen. The pub runs a number of hugely popular annual events including Drink The List and their festival to all things offal, Glandstonbury.
What to order? From the current menu Onglet steak, onions, Comté & chilli ketchup sandwich sounds like it would hit the spot as does a hearty starter of mussels, nduja and fregola.
10. The Marksman
254 Hackney Rd, London E2 7SJ
Need to know: Chef owners Tom Harris and Jon Rotheram reopened The Marksman in 2015, key to which was the opening of a wonderful, airy upstairs dining room.
What to order? Menus change all the time, but you don't want to go home without having tried the brown butter and honey tart which is deservedly famous. And right now, the chicken and wild leek pie for two sounds pretty fine too.
Book a table: call 0207 739 7393
16. The Anchor & Hope
36 The Cut, Waterloo, London SE1 8LP
Need to know: When this pub first opened it was A Big Deal, being one of the first modern gastropubs in London. Run by - as Matthew Fort described them "graduates of St John by way of the Eagle" - it was nigh on impossible to get a table here and - horrors - they didn't (and still don't) take bookings.
What to order? From the menu this week, Pressed chicken, ham and foie gras terrine served with pickled cherries spoke to us, as did the idea of brigade steamed pudding with custard.
Book a table: They only accept bookings for Sunday lunch - call on 020 7928 9898
22. Harwood Arms
Walham Grove, Fulham, London SW6 1QP
Need to know: Owned by The Ledbury's Brett Graham and TV chef Mike Robinson of The Pot Kiln, this Fulham pub with Sally Abe at the helm is still the only Michelin-starred pub in London.
What to order? First seen at the Scotch Egg Challenge back in 2011, the Harwood Arms' venison scotch egg is still one of the best of its kind.
25. The Red Lion & Sun
25 North Rd, Highgate, London N6 4BE
Need to know: Tucked in a side street just minutes of the A1, this Highgate gastropub definitely comes into its own in the summer with a huge garden. It's a local story too with even their meat coming from the local Highgate Butchers which may be why their Sunday Roasts look outstanding.
What to order? The fish and chips are great - and you can get them to takeaway too. But you'll want to settle in here for one of the best wine lists in London.
27. Guinea Grill
30 Bruton Pl, Mayfair, London W1J 6NL
Need to know: This ancient pub (there's been a pub on this spot since the 15th century) has always been a London classic, but the arrival of uber-landlord Oisin Rogers in 2016 lifted it into a different level altogether.
What to order? Jay Rayner described the Guinea's mixed grill as "the sort of thing open-top tourist buses should stop in front of." Meat is what you're after here, and that mixed grill has plenty of it in. If you're after something a teeny bit less hearty - how about one of their award-winning steak and kidney pies?
41. The Parlour
5 Regent St, London NW10 5LG
Need to know: Owner Jesse Dunford Wood, who made a name for himself at The Mall Tavern, describes this as "[not] a traditional pub. I like to think of it as a meeting place that serves great food and drink."
What to order? Dunford Wood's Chicken Kiev is utterly brilliant and is served up with hash browns and coleslaw. And you're going to have to leave room for classic (and crazy) takes on the Arctic Roll.
47. Canton Arms
177 South Lambeth Road, London SW8 1XP
Need to know: Run by a team who started at the Anchor & Hope - and also own the newly opened Stockwell Continental - the chef here is Trish Hilferty, who like owner Charlie Bousfield, trained up via the original London gastropub, The Eagle in Farringdon.
What to order? On the current menu, a starter of confit skate, leeks, soft egg and capers sounds like a comfort dish par excellence but you'll need to gather a group together for the best thing - seven hour Salt Marsh lamb shoulder comes with potato and olive oil gratin and serves five-ish.