Freemasons at Wiswell chef Steven Smith has never been afraid to do things a little differently from most. You won't find this straight-talking Lancastrian following 'trends' or using fad ingredients; nor does he believe in the need for signature dishes. And while 'locally-sourced produce' continues to dominate the contemporary chef's lexicon, Smith is open about his use of European and Asian ingredients.
For risk comes reward: The Good Food Guide has recently named Freemasons as the best pub for food in the UK, giving it a prestigious 7/10 rating and placing it 41st on their list of best UK restaurants.
It is a truly stunning result for the Lancastrian chef – especially when you consider some of the feted names that sit below Freemasons on the list: The Hand and Flowers, Clove Club, Northcote Manor, to name a mere few.
“It’s superb, it’s absolutely fantastic,” Smith comments. “Bookings have really picked up and people are very happy to see all the hard work that we have been putting in for five years has paid off.“
When Steven Smith opened The Freemasons in the summer of 2009, his was a new face to local epicureans. He didn’t come with a name-dropping CV or fresh from a stage at Noma or French Laundry. Instead, he had been quietly working his way around Lancashire and Yorkshire, serving his time in some quality kitchens and honing his talents.
Menus in the early days revealed a talented chef that was perhaps a little too eager to show off his skills. But by 2012, when The Guardian published a highly complimentary review of Freemasons, the product had been refined and Smith’s humble, eclectic style was beginning to come through.