IT HAS been voted one of the UK's top ten pubs and is Hampshire dining pub of the year.

Winchester’s famed Wykeham Arms is renowned for its mix of history, good food and fine wine.

But its owners are today reeling from a savage review by a national food critic claiming it has “gone utterly down the khazi”

and turned into a “shameful clipjoint”.

In a searing rant about the decline of the historic drinking den, “a pub I used to love”, outspoken journalist and broadcaster Giles Coren gave the cooking nought out of ten and urged people not to go there.

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Instead the critic, best known for appearances on TV’s F-Word with chef Gordon Ramsay, suggested diners visit Winchester’s Black Rat restaurant in Chesil Street, which he praised for its “ballsy cooking”.

But Coren was unrelentingly scathing about the Wykeham.

“Whoever the hell is running the place now has made a terrible mess of it,” he said.

“Not in the sense that it looks different, or that it isn't pretty much permanently full. It’s just that the food has gone utterly down the khazi.”

He described a succession of disastrous meals, particularly an order for ten steak sandwiches.

“What arrived were ten stinking, grey slabs of gristle slapped between two slices of, of all things, focaccia. Oh, the horror when cheap, ugly produce meets pretentiousness and ineptitude.

When asked which were the rare ones, the waitress said: ‘Chef cooked them all the same because they were thin.’ But they were not thin. They were thick as a sewage-worker’s hands, and twice as smelly. The meat was grey and chewy and appeared to have been boiled.”

He was even more scathing about owners the beer giant Fullers, which took over the pub when they bought out Hampshire’s Gales brewery in 2005.

“The Wykeham Arms is destroyed. They have turned a great old English institution into a shameful clip-joint. It is a shuddering, howling tragedy.

“They (and it is owned by Fuller's, so I guess that is who I mean) have decided to exploit the pub's reputation by slashing the quality, ramping the margins, and screwing every last penny they can out of mug punters with outdated guidebooks.”

A Fullers spokesman said: “It is one review out of thousands that we get and the vast majority are incredibly positive. We are surprised and disappointed that he felt it did not come up to scratch.”