The Staith House in North Shields scoops Best Food Pub 2015 at the Great British Pub Awards

The Staith House in North Shields scoops Best Food Pub 2015 at the Great British Pub Awards

A quick check in the dictionary reveals that a ‘staith’ is a structure sitting on the shore of a harbor – an instantly encouraging sign that a pub named after one is sure to serve some top-notch fresh fish. But it’s not just the delectable fishy offerings on the menu at The Staith House in North Shields that won it the coveted award of Best Food Pub 2015 at the Great British Pub Awards.

Run by MasterChef: The Professionals finalist John Calton, along with his wife Kimberley Calton and business partner James Laffan, The Staith House has a menu that the Newcastle Journal said “could be the best value, most honest, earthy, freshest-tasting menu on offer in our region”. So it’s perhaps no wonder the lessees extended Thursday tasting evenings to Wednesdays too, simply to keep up with the demand.

“The tasting evenings [priced at £50 per head] really give us a chance to showcase the best of our food and skills as chefs,” John says, while pointing to some of the delights that have recently featured including the Shields crab starter and Middle White pork main. It’s hard to imagine that just two years ago, when Star Pubs & Bars first partnered with The Staith House, this beacon of British cooking didn’t even have a kitchen.

Especially when you consider that the pub’s Sunday lunch now pulls in a crowd of 80 to 100 every week and shows off the best of British produce. Stone bass at £17.50 and lemon sole at £17 share the menu with locally sourced duck breast with black pudding at £18, roast loin of fallow dear at £23 and sirloin of Northumbrian Ryal Farm beef at £12.50.

But it’s not only the food that this pub prides itself on. John explains: “Our customers are of all ages and come from different backgrounds, which contributes to the vibrant atmosphere we create.” Live music, a cracking selection of lagers, as well as a good wine list and three cask ales ensure the punters are just as happy when they’re sat at the bar as they are eating dinner.

Social media has helped the pub spread its reach further afield. John says that before he partnered with Star “the pub had such a poor reputation that many wouldn’t set foot in there.” Now punters come from as far as Scotland and Lancashire and John reckons much of this success is down to social media. “It was vital to turning the pub around. It was all about generating a buzz by putting up our menus and photos of produce on Twitter. It’s a really good way of advertising.”

Cooking demonstrations at foodie events like the Tynemouth Food Festival give The Staith House’s food offering that extra air of gravitas, and the pub now proudly claims spots in the Michelin Guide, the Good Food Guide, Harden’s Restaurant Guide, Sawday’s Pub Guide and the Good Pub Guide.

Looking at where The Staith House has come from to where it is now, it seems the success of this foodie heart of the community can only continue.