Published on February 20th, 2015 | by Alastair Gilmour


Isis, Sunderland

Step inside this 1885-vintage, Victorian, Grade II-listed beauty and gasp. The impression of opulence is amazing and an enormous transformation from where the pub had been abandoned before Jarrow Brewery got its creative hands on it.

It was once known as The Ship Isis in tribute to the city’s shipbuilding tradition (and not the Islamist rebel group whose occasional reference is a constant irritation to landlords Carol Graham and John Stubbs). Isis was an Ancient Egyptian goddess revered as the ideal mother and patron of nature and magic. She taught women how to weave, bake bread and – significantly – brew beer. She is commemorated on the pub sign, its interior mirrors, and the ship’s prow-like busts hovering at either end of the bar. Those mirrors sparkle, the large fireplace is an immediate attraction and heavy drapes offer an extra feeling of warmth. Isis is divided into two with a Select Room and Snug and Public Bar where immediate features are the wood panelling and stylish Art Deco-style lamps on the counter which add a touch of class. It’s twice winner of the Sunderland and South Tyneside Camra branch’s Pub of the Year – not a bad record in three years – and a new Premier Inn next door will do trade no harm either. Monday is quiz night (with free half-time buffet), and Wednesday’s music night attracts buskers and their followers, with “pints for players” an added extra.

Eight handpulls, three ciders and several keg fonts. Jarrow Brewery beers include Old Cornelius, McConnells Irish Stout and Rivet Catcher. Regular guests also keep the interest high. The list goes on through Staropramen, Brooklyn Lager, and San Miguel while bottled speciality beers and lagers further excite the palate.

An impressive menu is presented upstairs by Barnett’s At The Isis. It’s all home-cooked, very reasonably priced and invites comments such as “the best steak in Sunderland”. Sunday lunches are hugely popular but oysters in chilli and ginger, pan-fried wood pigeon and venison are unexpected – and very welcome – “pub grub” surprises. A real find.

WHERE IS IT?  Isis, 26 Silksworth Row, Sunderland, SR1 3QJ Tel 0191 514 7684, Landlords Carol Graham and John Stubbs (together Bottoms Up Leisure) lease the pub from Jarrow Brewery who converted it from one-room dilapidation in 2011 into a stylish, opulent, award-winning pub.

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Alastair Gilmour

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