Two food-led watering holes will find out later this month if they can shout loud and proud about not just being the best gastropubs in the North East, but the whole of the UK.
The Staith House on North Shields Fish Quay and the Angel of Corbridge in Northumberland’s Tyne Valley are both in the running for prestigious Budweiser Budvar Top 50 Gastropub Awards.
The Angel of Corbridge has been shortlisted in the Business Innovation of the Year category for its new on-site fish and chip shop which opened last summer.
It’s up against the Richmond Arms at West Ashling, near Chichester, West Sussex, with its wood fired vintage wagon pizza concept, and the Oast House in Manchester with its winter tepee.
Meanwhile, The Staith House, headed by Masterchef: The Professionals finalist John Calton, his wife Kimberley and family friend and work colleague James Laffan, is one of five Newcomer of the Year finalists.
The others are the Truscott Arms, Maida Vale, London; the Packhorse Inn, Moulton, Suffolk; The Talbot at Mells, Somerset; and the Jacobs Inn, Oxford.
The winners will be announced on January 26, along with their position in the Top 50 Gastropub list, at a ceremony in Hertfordshire hosted by celebrity chef Tom Kerridge, whose Hand & Flowers pub in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, has taken the top spot in the rankings for the past three years.
Other special awards to be announced on the evening, and drawn from the winners of the main categories, will be Gastropub Chef of the Year, Wine List of the Year, Highest Climber and Highest New Entrant.
The Angel of Corbridge converted and refurbished a 260-year-old outbuilding into a fish and chip shop to sit alongside the establishment’s predominantly locally-inspired and locally-produced pub food offering. The aim was to create a dining experience comparable with any of the best known fish and chip shops across the UK.
Looking forward to attending the ceremony, managing director Kevin Laing said: “It’s a huge award and a massive achievement for the Angel.”
Winning would be an even greater achievement and widely celebrated among Angel staff and loyal clientele.
The Staith House opened in what was the Dolphin Pub (its current name is the 206-year-old hostelry’s original title before being rechristened in 1853) in the late autumn of 2013.
In its first 12 months of business The Staith House saw itself listed as one of the UK’s best pubs in the Good Food Guide and also picked up the Great British Pub Award’s Best Turnaround Pub in the North East, Yorkshire and Scotland. It was also shortlisted as a finalist for the national Great British Pub Awards.
To celebrate its latest nomination – and hopefully a win, too – The Staith House is holding a special Top 50 Gastropub Awards Tasting Menu evening on February 5, showcasing the same six-course meal served to the judging panel.
It features creamy celeriac soup with local crab; pan roasted fillet of stone bass with crackling, smoked eel, shrimps and parsley; Shields haddock with prawn and oyster vinaigrette; seared North Sea halibut with Jerusalem artichokes, chanterelles and shiraz; roasted rack and braised shoulder of Longwitton hogget with leeks, onions and Ragstone goats’ cheese; and dark chocolate pave with amaretto.
Tickets cost £50 per person.
Jo Bruce, managing editor of publicans’ newspaper the Morning Advertiser, which organises the awards, says: “The quality of entries to this year’s awards has been exceptional, with some great entries from pubs all over the UK.
“The quality of food and drink these finalists are offering and the innovative ways they continue to drive their businesses forward is inspiring.”