A CHESHIRE pub has beaten competition from 2,500 boozers around the UK to be named Best Food Pub and it's only a short drive away.

The win is the third commendation for The Faulkner, in Hoole near Chester, in the last 12 months, with the pub also winning a Silver Award in the Taste Cheshire Food & Drink Awards and scooping highly commended for Cheshire Life’s Dining Pub of the Year Award.

Knutsford Guardian:

Licensees Darren and Kelly Lea at the pub with chef Andrew Jones.

The Faulkner’s food was marked against stringent criteria from its quality and presentation to staff knowledge and service and came out on top in every area.

The judges, of the awards run by Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars, described their visit as a “great dining experience: the menu is interesting but appeals to all, the food is restaurant-quality at pub prices and the staff are warm and welcoming.”

The Faulkner was singled out for using locally-sourced ingredients from named suppliers and for making everything – bar the bread, chips and pâté – from scratch.

In addition, the judges praised the pub for its regularly changing menu and seasonal produce, which ensure there’s always something new for regulars to try.

As well as offering à la carte specials, The Faulkner has popular home-made pizza and burger nights and runs regular tasting nights featuring cuisine from around the world.

The Faulkner is run by chef licensee, Darren Lea, and his wife Kelly, who took it over in 2011.

Since then, the couple have transformed its fortunes, investing £100,000 in refurbishments and putting it on the map as a top gastro pub and a much-loved community local.

Their team of 35 includes eight kitchen staff. Chef Andrew Jones started out with the Leas and creates the menus with Darren.

Knutsford Guardian:

The Faulkner licensees Darren and Kelly Lea.

Darren, who grew up near Chester, knew from the age of eight he wanted to have a pub and has worked in the industry for the last 30 years.

Darren said: “Hoole is a fantastic place and The Faulkner is at the heart of it; we feel very fortunate to have such a lovely pub. It’s our eighth anniversary here this month, so this award makes it a double celebration. It’s amazing to have this recognition - we couldn’t have done it without our dedicated staff and Cheshire’s brilliant suppliers and food producers.”

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Lawson Mountstevens, managing director of Star Pubs & Bars, added: “Darren and Kelly put their all into The Faulkner.

"They’re passionate about giving their customers outstanding food and drink and introducing them to the latest trends. The standard of pub food has never been higher but The Faulkner stands out. Whether you’re after a light lunch or a special celebration dinner, you’re in for a real treat at The Faulkner.”

Knutsford Guardian:

The Leas receive their award from Joel Dommett.

The Leas were presented with their award by actor, comedian and presenter Joel Dommett, host of the Masked Singer, at a gala ceremony at the five-star Luton Hoo Hotel in Bedfordshire.