Tynemouth chippie is the plaice to be.
JUDGES have decided a fledgling chippie in Tynemouth is one of the three best in the country.
Longsands Fish Kitchen, North East chef Simon Walsh's first stand-alone venture, opened 15 months ago.
Now the restaurant and takeaway has made it to the final three in the Best Newcomer category of the 2017 National Fish and Chip Awards.
In September, Longsands featured on a longer list of the nation's Top 10 new fish and chip shops. Now Simon and his team will be frying for further glory in the 'Oscars' of the fish frying industry - the only North East establisment in the running.
He said: "We were delighted when we made it on to the Top 10 list of best new fish and chip shops. But to discover Longsands has been judged among the top three is out of this world.
"It is tremendous news for the Fish Kitchen, the Longsands team who have all worked incredibly hard to get us to this point and the village of Tynemouth.
"We will now be going all out to fly the flag for the region and bring this much sought-after title back to the North East, putting Tynemouth on the fish and chip aficionados' map.
"But win or lose, just to be recognised for the high quality and standard we are setting ourselves on a daily basis is amazing."
Longsands, which has been shortlisted against Stargazy Fish Bar from Tetbury, Gloucestershire, and North Beach Fish and Chips from Bridlington, East Yorkshire, will find out on January 26 if it has done enough to take the crown. Over the coming weeks the finalists will be scrutinised by an awards auditor who will assess all aspects of their business.
Marcus Coleman, chief executive of Seafish, which organises the annual competition, says: "Being shortlisted as a finalist at this stage in the competition is a fantastic achievement for any newly opened fish and chip business.
"It demonstrates their incredible talent, dedication and commitment - traits that have to be applauded."
Sponsored by Frymax, the Best Newcomer award was open to independent fish and chip businesses operating since October 1, 2014 which upheld the high standards of the trade.
Simon is best known for his years as executive head chef at the Close House Golf Resort in Northumberland's Tyne Valley.
But he left the world of fine dining behind in January 2015 to go it alone and open the Longsands Fish Kitchen. Offering a take-out service and a daily changing restaurant menu, it makes the most of the sustainably sourced seafood being landed at North Shields Fish Quay.
As well as traditional cod and haddock, Longsands serves more exotic dishes such as tiger prawns with chilli jam, salmon and smoked haddock fish cakes, and black pudding and smoked haddock Scotch egg with curry mayonnaise and chips.
Simon says: "We see this as just the beginning for us. We are determined to push fish and chips forward and make sure it remains a cool brand that will appeal to the younger generation."