Pub of the month – April 2015

This is a totally Peak District dominated post, because almost all of our April 2015 pub trips were during our week in Hope, and we had quite a few pub visits during our holiday.

One of our first lunch stops during the week was The Norfolk Arms in Ringinglow, during a walk from Redmires reservoir to Ringinglow and back. Walkers welcome. Muddy boots welcome. Cyclists welcome. On an improving (weather wise) Easter  bank holiday weekend Saturday there were still a good few tables available inside, and loads outside.

Lots of choice on the menu too. The burgers were very tempting, but in the end I went for the staple that is the club sandwich. Simple, but easy to get wrong. No errors here though, a very good club with a simple side salad and some chips. I’d already eaten half of it before I remembered to take a photo for the blog!

And a good selection of ales and bottled beers too, a pint of Stancill Barnsley bitter for me (a classic bitter) and a Timmermans Framboise for Mrs MOFAD:-

A lovely pub for lunch.

Another lunch pub next, The Scotsman’s Pack in Hathersage is a pub that we have visited many times. Mrs MOFAD & I came here for many Easter Monday meals over the years, until it became an inconvenient venue due to some stair issues.

On another sunny April day, we were meeting a friend here before going climbing on Stanage Edge, which is just around the corner. Despite still being in school holiday territory, the pub was pretty quiet, which suited us just fine. We ordered some drinks and then some food including this lovely wild boar burger topped with a fried egg. A winning combination without a doubt. Mrs MOFAD ordered a steak and ale pie. We actually wanted just some sandwiches, or something a bit more “lunchy” but they just have a standard menu at all times.

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Good marks for presentation (very cheffy blobs of mustard mayo), although marks knocked off for slates not plates, but this was all about the content – a really good flavoured wild boar burger, a perfect fried egg on top. Quality chips and some watercress too. It was probably the best burger I’ve had so far this year. Mrs MOFAD enjoyed the pie too.

This was accompanied by a pint of Archer Single Hop Amber Ale. A new micro brewery? No, just another part of the Marston’s empire. A pleasant enough pint though.

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A dinner pub next. After an excellent walk up Grindsbrook Clough, over the Kinder plateau and down Jacob’s Ladder, it was time for a well-deserved dinner at The Cheshire Cheese. Like The Scotsman’s Pack, this has hosted our Easter Monday meal at least three times if my memory is working correctly. There was a pub quiz on for our visit, and we booked in advance, just to make sure that we didn’t miss out 🙂

To begin, a pint of Kelham Best from the excellent Kelham Island Brewery, who, like their nearby neighbours Abbeydale don’t appear to be capable of brewing a bad ale 🙂 A classic English bitter with malt, caramel and a hint of hop.

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For dinner, it just had to be the double pork win of pork chop with bacon, mash and a fantastic mustard sauce (heavy on the mustard which is exactly how I like it). This was fantastic, and probably the best thing we ate all month. And all four of our party achieved Triple Pork Nirvana today!

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Brains were kept lubricated for the pub quiz with another good local ale, the pale and hoppy Farmers Blonde by Bradfield Brewery:-

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It was another second place quiz finish for “My Pointless Friend Richard.”

In second place in this month’s pub of the month, we have The Peak Hotel in Castleton,  owned by Rick who also owns the Old Hall Hotel in Hope (more on that in a moment). To kick things off, a pint of Black Sheep, in a proper dimple pot. This is a classic Yorkshire bitter, with malty and caramel notes. Again, this is one of those pints that just has a little bit extra when it comes from a pump.

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To eat, a very nice highland chicken (which had run out at The Old Hall earlier in the same week), chicken breast stuffed with haggis, wrapped in bacon and served with a whisky cream sauce. Lots of my favourite ingredients all bundled on to a plate with some nice roast spuds and veg.

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This was accompanied by another pint of that rather good Abbeydale Moonshine:-

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A good match for that whisky sauce. Another pint was needed to lubricate the brain, and it was back to the Farmer’s Blonde again:-

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The quiz had some fiendish questions and a few rather obvious ones (in our humble opinions at least). With some pretty obscure answers plucked from dark recesses of our brains (like why Cardiff City are the only Welsh team to have triangular corner flags), we were reasonably confident. But then we were confident on the previous 2 nights. Tonight was the night! It was victory for “My Pointless Friend Richard.” Read more about our quiz exploits and winnings here…

The winner for April 2015 has to be The Old Hall Hotel. Five visits in five days, and we were willing to return on the fifth day even though there was no beer festival on 🙂

Easter Monday’s lunch was very pleasant, so we decided to pop down for dinner the next night. This proved to be a good decision, as there were plenty of different ales available (they always have a good selection, beer festival or not), and more very good food.

A burger is always a solid choice, and a good test of any pub. This was another test passed, the “gourmet steak burger”:-

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An excellent burger accompanied by brie and a good onion marmalade, as well as some great chips. Definitely MOFAD approved, although a bit more effort on presentation wouldn’t go amiss, plates are preferred to chopping boards, and silly little baskets should not be employed.

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And if all of that wasn’t enough, there was also a pub quiz, interspersed with some bingo. And free sandwiches for pub quiz entrants (this is a theme of pub quizzes round these parts). “My Pointless Friend Richard” came second in the quiz.

A worthy pub of the month, I suspect there will be more entries about it in April 2017 🙂

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Beer of the month, April 2015

Another tricky month, with so much beer to choose from. A week away, 4 visits to a beer festival, three pub quizzes, a couple of comedy nights, and much more. Around 40 candidates this month, but we travel to Spain (figuratively, since the beer travelled from Spain, via Ales by Mail, to my house) for the winner.

Napar Pale Ale from Spanish brewer Naparbier is this month’s winner. Like most American pale ales, it is not pale, instead more golden in hue. Looks don’t really matter, what matters is that it is hoppy, fruity and very good. Spanish craft ale? Whatever next? Through to the final it goes, to ensure it will be an international battle at the end of the year…

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Ales by Mail

There are lots of statistics bandied around about how many people you tell about a good customer service experience, and how many you tell about a bad one. The numbers vary, but it’s something between twice as many or ten times as many people that you tell about a bad experience.

Today, I want to tell you about a good experience with Ales by Mail. I wonder if you can guess the nature of their business from their name? They state on their web site:-

“Our elves work really hard to ship all orders (that arrive before noon) on the same day they are placed (thereby providing you with next day delivery), but unfortunately we cannot guarantee this.”

Of all the suppliers that I had been looking at for my next beer order, Ales By Mail would appear to have the most chance of getting something to you the next day, so on Thursday morning, I popped my order off. However, by Thursday night there was no shipping confirmation. However, after a quick twitter chat with the elves they managed to find some other elves who could get the order shipped on Friday to arrive on Saturday. This was perfect, since I would have been unable to receive the delivery on another day.

And at 8:40am this morning, just as predicted by the e-mail sent by the courier an hour before, 2 boxes of beery loveliness arrived. An excellent choice of beers, delivered by an excellent choice of courier.


Absolutely top notch customer service, from very friendly people. The type of thing that will mean that I will be going straight back to them for my next order (might have to leave it for a little while), and you should check them out too. Ales by Mail are certainly 100% MOFAD approved!

Chilli’N’Spice, Swannington

Another comedy night, but this time with a difference. A new venue for us, the Century Theatre in Coalville (to see Susan Calman). This gave us an excuse for a Friday night curry (the Friday night tradition chez MOFAD) at Chilli’N’Spice in Swannington, where we’ve been a few times before.

It’s not perhaps the most obvious of locations for a great curry house, but you should never judge by location alone. The menu is very interesting, quite a few dishes that you don’t find very often, including several dishes dedicated to local residents, one of which is as follows:-

Chris Leach’s Death Wish

Extremely hot curry made with Bangladeshi naga chilli and fried bird’s eye chilli. This dish is not for the faint hearted. Subject to availability. The restaurant and its staff cannot be held accountable for any illness caused after having this dish.

Due to high health risks this dish is not available.

So we couldn’t have that one. Instead I opted for the Bengal Fish Bhuna (I usually go for fish curry when out, as it’s not something I would usually cook at home). Mrs MOFAD went for the chicken rogan josh. Both of these were excellent, with really good flavours, and very aromatic spices, not just silly amounts of chilli. We both had a coriander naan, which was also very good.


Chilli’N’Spice is very much MOFAD approved!

The Marquis Wellington, Leicester, April 2015

The Marquis Wellington is the favourite pre-show haunt of Mrs MOFAD and I. It is perfectly situated just around the corner from De Montfort Hall, where we spend a lot of time going to comedy shows (usually the bigger tour shows). I’ve lost count of the number of times that we’ve been here over the years, but thanks to the handy Untappd app, I can tell you that this is our 5th visit since February 2014. Mrs MOFAD also came last month with a friend, as I was unable to attend a show.

First and foremost, it is a chain pub, owned by Everards (a local brewery), but it does not really have that chain feel about it. Apart from the usual three or four Everards ales on tap, you don’t really notice it. As well as those, there are usually another three or four guest ales available, as well as a good few bottles of craft ale in the fridges. Tonight it was a pint of Out of the Dark for me, and a Liefmans Fruitesse for Mrs MOFAD.


The menu has some good choices too, and they have different “nights” during the week, including a fish’n’chip night and a burger night. Wednesday just happens to be pie and pint night, although invariably the pints will not be the ones that you want to drink 🙂 As well as the regular pies on the menu, they have some additional pies. As soon as we spotted what was on tonight, there was no contest. It had to be the chicken and pulled pork pie. We have had this before. We have liked it before. We had it again. We liked it again.


It is very densely packed with meat, accompanied by seasoned chips and some peas. There’s a nice little bit of sauce in there too. Whilst there is something of a pulled pork bandwagon right now (this will be covered in a separate post at some point, and Dara O’Briain, who we went to see afterwards also remarked on this during his show), it works really well in this pie. Although it appears to be more of a pulled ham (which is pork of course) but that’s just splitting hairs really. A very nice meal.

The Marquis is definitely MOFAD approved, and a MOFAD card was left 🙂 Will be back again in a couple of months.

The Regent’s Bar & Kitchen (Benugo), Regent’s Park, London

The Regent’s Bar & Kitchen is located in the middle of Regent’s Park on the inner circle – an excellent location for a break in perambulation. And that’s exactly what it provided today, after a sunny April stroll around. It was time for tea and cake. Apparently it also serves pizzas from a wood fired oven. Maybe another day…

 Today it was tea and a raspberry and white chocolate muffin, and coffee and lemon drizzle cake for Mrs MOFAD.

We’ll start with the cakes. They were pretty good. The muffin was full of fruit and chocolatey goodness, although perhaps a little on the dry side. Maybe they had been out for a while. The lemon drizzle cake was also nice and zingy. 

  

 The tea and coffee, however, not so good. The weird giant tea bag didn’t inspire confidence, and the tea inside was very poor. The coffee was of a similar ilk. Most disappointing all round. A great place for a stop, but not MOFAD approved.

Cea

What is cea? It is that weird combination of coffee and tea that you get in certain places when you ask for tea. It seems to be particularly prevalent in America, where tea is very much the poor relation to coffee (look at all the tea that was wasted when it was chucked in to Boston harbour – no respect for tea!)

It also happens in hotels, at conferences and various other places. This morning (hence this post) it has happened again on a train to London. It really is an odd flavour, just a brown liquid that has no more than a passing resemblance to tea. It is caused by tea being served from a pot that has previously contained coffee. It is tainted tea.

So, hot beverage purveyors, if you can’t make fresh drinks for your customers, keep your pots for tea and coffee separate. Treat them like you treat your chopping boards for meat and vegetables. Never the twain shall meet!

Here endeth this public service announcement.