Published on March 3rd, 2016 | by Alastair Gilmour0
Legends in their own lunchtime
Four North East pubs have made it into a national Top 50 Gastropubs list. Karen Errington from The Rat Inn at Anick, Hexham (number 13), answers a few questions
The Rat Inn was named number13 in the 2016 list – to what do you owe your success?
Keeping the food simple and seasonal, maintaining a great beer list in addition to regularly changing guest beers and having a hard working and personable team. And enjoying doing it.
The North East has been recognised for great pub food – how has that come about?
The pubs are quite diverse in terms of what they offer so there’s not a hard and fast formula. In general people have a good idea of which pubs are doing it right.
What do you do that’s different to other good food pubs?
I think it’s important to look at those around and try your best to do better. It’s also important to have a definite focus then devise menus which you have the skill and means to deliver successfully. We are influenced by our location and the ingredients available nearby and focus on flavour, not overly complex presentation, and keep the menu evolving.
Does it help business (daft question)?
It’s good in so far as it helps to keep your profile high and builds your reputation so it prompts some new custom and it gives everyone a massive motivational boost. So yes, there is a knock-on positive effect.
What’s next for The Rat Inn?
We recently extended our food hours to a seven-day operation. We’re also introducing a set three-course lunch menu which we hope will speed up service and alleviate pressure on the kitchen at busy times. As a result we’ve got two chefs positions to fill, so hopefully, the high ranking might help to attract applications.
And next year?
There were 17 new pubs in the rankings this year which means 17 good pubs went out from the previous year, so there is no guarantee – even if you’re quite high up in the list – that you’ll figure. It’s wide open, which is also good.