King Street Tavern, an 18th Century pub in the heart of Southsea, has been named a Good Food Award winner for the third time, giving it an official ‘Gold Seal’.
The national awards asses more than 500,000 businesses and recognise those who strive for culinary excellence within their field. They are free to enter and entirely based on merit.
King Street Tavern, well known for its authentic smoked and barbecue meats with great beer, is the only venue in Portsmouth to pick up the accreditation this year.
The venue, set up by Paul Mulholland and Sean Marshall in 2017, was forced to adapt to overcome the challenges of the past two years, but is now back and better than ever.
Sean, 53, said: ‘We are always sceptical about awards as some have no substance but these awards are different. They are independent and they review you properly.
‘We were delighted the first time we won, the second time it was like wow, but this year we didn't expect anything. It didn't even occur to us as it’s been so busy, relaunching our restaurant, launching our new pub across the road Scotts Tap & Keller, and getting back to a bit of normality while all the time looking after our staff, so to actually win, well we were stunned.’
Throughout lockdown the restaurant, which can normally cater for 45 covers and has a team of 14 staff, had to close so they took their services online and started a delivery service.
It proved popular and they were even delivering up to 130 roast dinners on a Sunday.
They set up a partnership with Aqua taxi drivers to get their food delivered and to support another Portsmouth business.
Sean said: ‘We had so many bad experiences with various delivery partners, they just didn’t care about giving the service, so we set up our own system.
‘It was great and it helped us to stay in business, helped another city business and helped us to reach our customers. We were delivering all over the island, all the way up to Anchorage Park.’
They also set up mobile catering company Bear Bones BBQ Co.
When the restaurant was allowed to reopen, the delivery service stopped, although Sean hasn't ruled out a return of some sort.
He said: ‘We are looking to do something, maybe another venue or maybe invest in a bigger industrial unit which would give us the bigger kitchen required to keep up with demand.’
Sean said his best sellers at the moment are the Bear Grills Sharers Platters, named after his nickname, which include smoked brisket, burnt end, chicken wings, ribs and sausages, plus more.
He also said the Sunday roasts are still proving popular – and they are often fully booked by Wednesday each week.
However, he said the team were delighted to receive the latest honour – and he thanks them and his customers for the continued support.
He said: ‘We are very grateful and humbled by the support shown by our customers, without them we would be just two old bearded men with a barbecue. We are also very grateful and humbled by the support of our wonderful team.’
The nearest other venues to pick up a Good Food award this year in the man category include: Suan Thai Restaurant in Romsey, La Regata at Town Quay Southampton and Spices and Spirits in Basingstoke.
For more go to kingstreettavernsouthsea.co.uk/menu/