Published on March 4th, 2020 | by Alastair Gilmour0
Unusual suspect earns top title
Something is rising from the patterned carpet. It’s nothing untoward, but what is apparent in The Marine in South Shields is that tradition is all-pervading, floor to ceiling. It’s a large, street corner pub – not a lot of them left when you think about it – plus a games area, separate rooms (sort of), handpulled beers, the low hum of conversation, patter and banter from loyal regulars and newcomers existing happily alongside those who prefer their beer in silent contemplation.
The Marine has been voted pub of the year by the Sunderland & South Tyneside branch of the Campaign For Real Ale (Camra). It sits at the seafront end of Ocean Road, opposite a run of B&Bs and small hotels, beside South Marine Park and close to the Westovian Theatre. Ocean Road is renowned the world over as a food paradise – Indian, Greek, Italian, Spanish outlets, plus classic British via Colmans award-winning fish and chips, so a neighbouring pub has got to have a pretty special beer and food offer to compete.
The Marine’s food is exceptional, according to the folks at the bar (its six cask ales and two ciders are on par with that observation). The menu is fairly long and at first glance, somewhat predictable – sandwiches and wraps, seafood, grilled steaks, burgers and pot pies – but one item on the Unusual Suspects list is an eye-catcher: Oxtail and tomato stew with bacon and raisins served with creamy mash. If the others match this, The Marine is a class act indeed.
Two dining areas are kept separate from the main bar – up a few steps, both quite sedate and rather old-fashioned in their way which is an absolute joy (bags the table with the view out to the seafront).
Beers are from Allendale, Titanic and Kirkstall breweries plus a couple from Credence, based in Amble, Northumberland, one of which is a porter that is out of this world. Sublimely made, beautifully kept. Class.
In the main bar, the counter top and frontage glow in honeyed oak, as does the back gantry, all of which adds warmth to the atmosphere. An eclectic mix of pictures bring the walls to life – old Shields, a framed Metropolis movie poster (Fritz Lang 1927), and a large Jimi Hendrix image. This is a reminder that pub owner Alex Chandler (with his wife Steph Oliphant-Chandler) is the son of the late Chas Chandler, Animals bass guitarist, entrepreneur and manager of Slade and the self-same Jimi Hendrix as in the picture frame. There’s no trading on the family name; the Chandlers plough their own furrow.
The Marine is a worthy title winner; may the North Sea blasts get behind her for forthcoming regional pub of the year deciders. AG