Ivy House: Worcester Terrace, Sunderland

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IS it a good thing or a bad thing to live on the doorstep of your boyfriend’s favourite pub?

Last night I could avoid the question no longer, and found myself at The Ivy House, on Worcester Terrace, for my tea.

The pub is under new and independent management, which means it can sell what it likes drinks-wise, and serve what it likes for grub.

Hence, on a Wednesday night we found it doing a brisk trade in fresh pizzas and homemade burgers.

Not a frozen lasagne or oven chip in sight.

We really liked the look and feel of it too – a smart, carefully done refurbishment has made this a cosy place to be.

There’s comfy suede seating, a giant historical frieze of Sunderland on one wall, lighting adorned with stag horns, framed photos and a roaring log fire.

The menu is simple and the food is prepared in an open kitchen that you can look into between trips to the bar.

Knowing the food was made from scratch made us happy to wait and we enjoyed a couple of Samson cask ales to pass the time.

Our pizzas arrived on round wooden plates.

I chose the Kingston, which came with jerk chicken, green chillis, peppers and herbs.

It was spicy (but not macho spicy) and very tasty.

My boyfriend chose the Havana which had shrimps and crab meat for topping. Obviously, we did a taste test of each other’s and it was a happy verdict.

The dough was fresh and neither were over salted as you sometimes find.

We also had some nice wedges in paprika and a sour cream sauce and the table was furnished with two different types of olive oil, which we drizzled on our crusts.

It’s a rare meal where I eat past being full, but I forced myself to finish. It was just too good to go in the bin, though our waitress said we could have had it boxed up if we wanted it. Oh well, maybe next time!

The pizzas are all around the £7 mark, with burgers slightly cheaper. We saw the latter arrive on the next table and they looked really good.

By the end of our meal I had the answer to my original question: I’d very much warmed to the idea of having The Ivy House feature in our lives.

What they’ve achieved is no mean feat – a pub that will satisfy the trendy and the traditional.

I loved the atmosphere and the boyfriend, who’s been drinking there for ages, didn’t feel put off by the new look.

Both of us spent years working in pubs and we recognised that rare quality that makes you feel so at home you want to move in and live off the nostalgia.

The night was capped by running into an old friend and finding them well.

Isn’t this how it’s meant to be? Yes.

Alison Goulding