“It was a big surprise, really, really good,” said Rhian, who co-owns the pub, which is a 15-minute drive west of Newcastle, at Hedley on the Hill, Stocksfield, with wife Helen. “It gave us a lot of confidence and the publicity was great.”
As a result of taking the title of Best Gastropub of the Year and, subsequently, Great British Pub of the Year in 2011, the pub has gone on to win a host of other awards - 36 in total - including the 2017 national award for Best Sunday Lunch as part of Roast Dinner Week.
Good at the basics
No wonder Jame Oliver is quoted as saying, “If you eat at only one place in Northumberland, make it here”.
Richard said that winning awards is about being good at a range of things. “You’ve got to be good at the basics and you have to be good with food. In our case, without good food we would not make any money. We’re in an isolated area and people won’t come all this way just for a drink.
“You also have to be nice to people and have good service. We manage to get staff to do that even though they change quite a bit.”
Food then is at the heart of the pub, a freehouse that sits in glorious Northumberland countryside. It has been named County Dining Pub of the Year for the last two years by the Good Food Guide.
Its food offering, locally sourced to cut down on food miles, is branded as ‘fine British food, in a traditional setting, at a reasonable price’ …. modest perhaps given the quality of awards it has won. Provenance is important too, with the pub's website mentioning that it cares about the welfare of livestock and the condition in which it is reared. ‘By using local produce, we take into consideration animal welfare whilst also improving the flavour and taste of the food dramatically’ it says.
The deadline for entry for this year's John Smith's Great British Pub Awards is 18 May, and you can enter online here: www.greatbritishpubawards.co.uk.