Published on December 8th, 2015 | by Alastair Gilmour


They’re all star pubs

Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars has been recognising the most outstanding licensees from its 1,100-strong national pub estate. Categories at its annual awards ranged from family-friendly pubs to sports bars and also involved team training, food, responsibility and community categories.

And the region’s pubs did very well, with the eventual Star Pub of the Year being awarded to The Staith House in North Shields. The City Tavern in Newcastle took the Perfect Pint category, while The Mill, Stokesley, Teesside, was awarded Best Bar Team.

StaithHouseIn little over 24 months, The Staith House has risen from a pub that nobody would go near into a top-notch establishment with a soaring reputation, playing a major role in North Shields Fish Quay’s regeneration. It was also recently voted the country’s best food pub in the Publican’s Morning Advertiser Great British Pub Awards.

Relentless insistence on high quality, locally-sourced ingredients (such as roast loin of fallow deer), plus sell-out taster evenings keep local food enthusiasts’ interest high. Making their own bread, butter and cheese is also a huge commitment. Beers include Deuchars IPA and Krusovice from the Czech Republic.

The City Tavern in Newcastle is immediately stylish, but it also manages to fend off any preconceived ideas of exclusiveness. It’s friendly, embracing and welcoming. The transformation from its previous pub life has been described by Simon Theakston, chairman of family brewer T&R Theakston, as “the best pub refurbishment I have ever seen”, which isn’t a bad comment to have on your CV.

Among the eight handpulls are the hugely popular house ales City Tavern Ale and Bar Hound Ale brewed by Caledonian and Theakstons respectively – light and quaffing or copper-hued with a touch of malt. Whisky and gin are specialities and there are plenty of water bowls and doggy treats for four-legged companions.

TheMillIn the 12 months to April 2014, The Mill in Stokesley took £64,000 in drinks. In the same period to April 2015 the figure was just short of £350,000 – all down to Team Mill, says licensee Alex Cook. The team concept runs through everything the pub does. Everyone – customer, staff or passer-by – is involved in Team Mill. Alex Cook even has the words tattooed on his arm, along with the date he took over the pub (28.02.2014).

The food is high quality with the legendary Teesside parmos on the menu alongside duck breast and Barnsley chop.

The Mill is a particularly well-designed pub with a sun-trap beer garden and a range of beers that include Theakstons Lightfoot and Black Bull Bitter, leading The Mill to become a destination for folks from an area 30 miles distant, down to the surrounding affluent chimney pots.

And, you should see the toilets…


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Alastair Gilmour

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