It’s been serving up pints in the shadow of Ryhope Village Green for around a century.
But earlier this year local pub The Albion embarked on a new venture when it reopened as bar and restaurant The Albion at Ryhope.
The new owners, who also run the Marina Vista Ristorante, at Roker Marina, have gone for a more upmarket feel than its previous guise as a pub - and it works.
Quirky artworks, such as a wall sculpture made from menus, a shelf made from books, and elaborate lighting, help to give it more of an identity of its own. Meanwhile, original features, such as the fireplaces and last orders bell, pay homage to the site’s history as a landmark fixture in Ryhope.
It still retains that local informal pub feel too with its warm welcome.
The menu, however, lifts it above your standard pub grub.
We chose from the a la carte version, but there is a more purse-friendly Happy Hour option which offers two course for £7.95 all day from Tuesday to Thursday and until 6.30pm on Friday and Saturdays.
The theme is English gastro pub fare, with a sprinkling of Italian flavour.
Starters include options such as mussels (£6.50), ratatouille (£5.95) and bruschetta (£4.95).
I chose the grilled black pudding (£5.95).
Once blacklisted as a breakfast food, it’s fast becoming a feature on restaurant menus. And so it should. Done well, it’s a great starter.
This version was grilled, so it wasn’t as greasy as those served in fry ups and it was elevated further with chunks of pancetta, a perfectly runny boiled egg and a peppercorn sauce which worked well with the blood sausage.
Mains are meat-heavy too with choices such as slow braised lamb shank (£12.95), Kiev-style chicken (£11.95) and cod wrapped with parma ham (£12.95).
I chose the fillet steak, which is reasonably priced at £14.95 for this prime cut.
There are few dishes quite as satisfying as a good steak. And this one certainly hit the spot.
I’d asked for it medium rare and it arrived as two butter-soft slabs, which my knife slid through with ease.
The sauce is almost unnecessary when the meat is a flavoursome as this, but I’d gone for peppercorn, which is served in a large ramekin so there’s plenty for those who like to smother their steak.
Service was swift and friendly with the owner popping round the tables asking if diners enjoyed their meal. You get the impression this is still a regular haunt for Ryhope residents who seem to be enjoying its renaissance as a restaurant.
Drinks prices are still at a pub level at £3.95 for a glass of house white and draught beers starting from £2.95.
Visit over Christmas and you have the added bonus of enjoying your pint while overlooking the 25ft Christmas tree which has been installed on the Green after villagers clubbed together for the festive fauna.