The Granby Inn is the prawn cocktail of restaurants.
I don’t mean that to be derogatory, more in a homely, reliable, familiar kind of way.
The prawn cocktail has been a staple starter on pub menus since the 1960s, having see-sawed in and out of fashion throughout that time.
But it’ll always remain a favourite. That combination of flavours, the sweet, nutty prawns smothered in tangy, piquant sauce is many people’s guilty pleasure. It may be old-fashioned but its longevity is proof that it must be hitting all the right taste buds.
And so The Granby Inn is just that – a consistently-good, unpretentious, unspectacular eatery, a comfortable choice that won’t let you down.
It is a traditional inn, some may say dated, with all the trimmings of an orthodox, archetypal English country pub – the beamed ceilings, red-patterned carpet, large brass plates, white-washed walls and oak-panelling – all very predictable yet strangely comforting.
It’s sure to be a favourite with every granny and auntie in the kingdom. Even the grand-kids will find something on the menu that is not too offensive for their delicate tastes.
After ordering a pint of Caffreys and glass of red wine, we were shown to our seats in a lounge between the bar and a conservatory-restaurant, where we have eaten before.
Once in place, we perused the main menu, which held no surprises – just standard pub fare. But one thing that caught our eye was the set meal price of three courses for £17.95, consisting of the same regular dishes at an amazing price (Starters: Home made pâté with toast; prawn cocktail; soup of the day with roll and butter; potato skins deep-fried with a choice of dips. Main courses: Chicken breast in a cream sauce with paprika, white wine and herbs; scampi, chips and tartare sauce; baked salmon with white wine, cream and herbs; steak and ale pie with apple-braised red cabbage; rump steak; vegetarian options of pasta bake, risotto cake with roasted vegetables and broccoli and cream cheese bake. Desserts: A selection of sweets.)
Despite some delicious-sounding, more adventurous selections on the specials board (some of which are listed in the menu, right) we decided to look after our pockets on this occasion and go for the budget meal.
After taking advice from a very friendly waitress, the job was done. I had ordered, guess what, the prawn cocktail to start with a steak-and-ale main course. It had been a long time since I had plumped for such traditional fare. Comfort food does have its place!
Across the way, the request was placed for homemade pâté followed by the rump steak. Neither of us was disappointed with the quality of the food that was ultimately placed before us, nor the presentation, although we hadn’t given the chef much of a challenge!
According to the Granby’s website, ‘all meals are prepared using only the finest local ingredients delivered daily from a local family butcher, a local greengrocer and a North Shields fish merchant’. You can’t ask fairer than that.
My prawn cocktail did exactly what it has said on the tin all those years. The prawns were a decent size and the sauce more creamy than tangy, although there was plenty of it. The lettuce was a bit watery, but other than that, no complaints. It was accompanied by triangles of sliced and buttered brown bread. Quite twee, really.
The pâté was indeed homemade and very pleasant. And I’m pleased to report, for the second week running, butter pats in a ramekin. No foil in sight, hurrah!
The highlight of my meal was the steak and ale pie. The well-cooked meat and to-die-for gravy were topped by the flakiest of flaky pastry and the veg was beautifully cooked with just the right amount of bite left in them.
The chips were not hand-cut but were at least served in very modern wire baskets.
Likewise, Mrs L declared her steak the favourite part of her meal. It was ‘a lovely piece of meat cooked just how I like it’. It came with some whopping onion rings.
Desserts would never be our specialist subject on Mastermind but I indulged in homemade rice pudding, which was made with real vanilla pods judging by the delightful taste and the tiny, black seeds in the dish. It was a bit sweet for my taste and very filling. My wife’s Eve’s pudding tart was plain, simple and a fitting finale.
REAL RELAXING WAY TO SPEND SUNDAY NIGHT
It was great to see the Granby still serving food into Sunday evening. Most pubs and restaurants had long given up cooking after the Sunday lunch rush. It meant the place was quiet, but we often prefer it that way. It allowed us to enjoy Abba’s greatest hits, which were played on repeat all night long. I can think of worse bands to entertain us – the memories came flooding back! It was a quite relaxing experience, with the service being efficient, polite and not intrusive.
The three vegetarian dishes on the main menu were not the most imaginative and the choice would probably disappoint non-meat-eaters.
SELECTION FROM SPECIALS MENU
Salmon/smoked haddock fishcakes......£5.25
Scallop & king prawn mornay......£6.95
Baked mushrooms, bacon & Stilton......£5.45
Chicken, pan-fried king prawns, chilli & lime butter......£11.75
Penna paste, chicken & chorizo......£10.95
Seabass fillets, poached king prawns, lemon & thyme butter......£14.95
Loin of pork, stuffed with leek sausage, Stilton cream......£13.50
Seared breast of pigeon, wild berries and port wine jus, mash......£12.50
Seared duck breast, confit leg, crushed potatoes, orange sauce......£13.95
Grilled lamb chops glazed with mustard & brown sugar......£13.95
Sticky toffee pudding, homemade cheesecake, crème caramel
STAR RATINGS (out of 10)
Quality of food......8
Value for money......8½
Use of local food (according to the website)......8½
Access for disabled......7
Toilet for disabled......No
Verdict: Reliable, decent food, varied menu, specials look top-notch.
Contact: 01665 570228 to book a table or visit www.thegranbyinn.co.uk.