Northumberland fish restaurant crowned country’s best

The Old Boat House in Amble.
The Old Boat House in Amble.
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A Northumberland eatery has seen off stiff competition to be crowned the country’s best fish restaurant in a prestigious competition.

The Old Boat House, based in Amble, secured the prize at the Fishing News Awards, which was held in Aberdeen last night. The awards are the only ones in the UK which celebrate the commercial fishing industry and those that support it.

More than a thousand votes were cast in the Coastal Fish Restaurant of the Year category by members of the public, with The Old Boat House storming ahead – taking more than a quarter of all ballots cast.

Famed for its picturesque harbour setting, The Old Boat House – which is owned by chef Martin Charlton – buys its fine selection of seafood directly from local fishing boats, supporting the fishermen in the area.

The awards were hosted by Sunday Brunch co-presenter Simon Rimmer. Simon is a professional chef and restaurateur, and is chef patron of two award-winning restaurants in Manchester.

Reflecting on The Old Boat House’s victory, Rimmer said: “As a chef myself, I know just how delicious fresh, local seafood can be, so it’s always exciting to see restaurants committed to sourcing and serving it.

“The Old Boat House puts a lot of emphasis on creating sumptuous meals from a variety of whichever fantastic fish are available on the day. Their philosophy behind serving seafood is something restaurants up and down the country would do well to take note of.”

Brought back after an eight-year absence, the Fishing News Awards celebrate the men and women who work long hours, in often extremely difficult conditions, to put healthy and sustainable food on our tables.

The restaurant category has been devised to recognise those who have demonstrated continued support of the commercial fishing industry in their local area, in addition to a menu that incorporates a good range of species encouraging diners to experience some varieties that deserve to be more popular.

In addition to the success of The Old Boat House, the North East saw further representation at the awards through Tynemouth-based Longsands Fish Kitchen, which put in a strong showing in the voting process, finishing in fourth place in the Coastal Fish Restaurant of the Year.

David Linkie, editor of Fishing News, which runs the awards, said: “It’s so important that seafood restaurants support their local fishermen, and The Old Boat House certainly leads by example in this regard. They’ve shown a real determination to showcase the great breadth of fish in this country while also proving a stable customer for fishermen in the region. They’re thoroughly deserved winners of this award.”

Fishing remains one of the UK’s most challenging occupations, with almost 12,000 fishermen still setting out to catch the 756,000 tonnes of seafood landed by British vessels each year.

Full list of winners: Demersal Fisherman of the Year: James Locker – Skipper, Our Lass III WY 261; Pelagic Fisherman of the Year: William Whyte – Skipper, Forever Grateful FR 249; Shellfish Fisherman of the Year: John Affleck – Skipper, Soph-Ash-Jay LH 60; Coastal Fish Restaurant of the Year: The Old Boat House; Technical Innovation of the Year: Lobster Pod/Brixham Trawl Makers; Boat of the Year: Guardian Angell LK272; Fish Processor of the Year: Flatfish Ltd; Fishing Port of the Year: Brixham; Safety Award of the Year: NFFO – Robert Greenwood, Fishing Safety Officer; Young Fisherman of the Year: Ian Shearer – Skipper, Courageous LK 470/ Harry Simper – Skipper, Silver Harvest IH 311; Lifetime Achievement Award: Billy Hughes.