Pub of the month – June 2015 – The George Inn, Chideock

We start with The Square Orange Cafe Bar. Does this count as a pub? I think it does. I will explain later.

The Square Orange is most unexpected. A little piece of Valencia in the heart of Keswick. Wooden panelling, terracotta paint, coffees, tapas – if you’ve ever visited a Spanish cafe then you know exactly what it will be like. And that goes for the menu too – lots of classic little tapas to pick and choose from, or a range of panini with a little salad on the side. And pizzas in the evening too.

Whilst not classically Spanish, I opted for the pulled pork panino:-

which was delicious. Proper pulled pork is a joy. A freshly prepared side salad too, with some nice olives. And this was accompanied by a lovely pint of Loweswater Gold:-

One of my favourite Lakes ales. Always a welcome sight at any bar. And there are also lots of interesting European beers available. If we visit of an evening I’ll certainly be taking myself on a tour of them. With all of these great beers on offer, it’s certainly more of a pub than some in the town. And if that’s not enough, look at this excellent Marvel wallpaper:-

A lovely little place, but we want plates!

In second place we have The Royal Oak, also in Keswick. Our evening started with a few drinks, a Catbells Pale Ale from Hesket Newmarket brewery, and a very good Strawberry lambicus from Timmermans

A couple of pub classics for our dinner, fish & chips (batter made with Wainwright ale), and a chargrilled chicken breast, with mushroom, plum tomato, onion rings, chips and some salad. Perfectly good pub grub.

As there was some handy wifi (and we had some walks to plan), we decided to hang around for a few more drinks. This was a Grasmere Gold from Tirril Brewery, a good golden ale.

When sticky toffee pudding is on the menu, it is rude not to.


A cracking pub in the centre of Keswick, well worth a visit.

For our winner this month, we have a long journey ahead. In celebration of regular MOFAD supplier and drinking companion Matt’s birthday, we were camping near Weymouth. It’s a long way when you live near to the point furthest from the sea.

From our camp site, we took a trip along the A35 to Chideock, upon the recommendation of the birthday boy, to the George Inn, a traditional Dorset thatched pub run by Steve and Emma who worked within Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage empire for five years. They try to keep everything fresh and local, which is pretty easy given where they are situated, so close to lots of great farms, local allotments, and of course the sea.

First up, a drink or two, and a few games of Uno for our party.

Following the local theme, a pint of bitter from Palmers of Bridport. It is described as an IPA, but has no IPA qualities. It’s a nice enough pint, with good malty notes but when I see the letters IPA, this is not what I am looking for.

For Mrs MOFAD, a Sheppy’s cider to begin, which is a classic English cider from Somerset.

After a good few rounds of Uno, which at some point got crossed with Baccarat and was played entirely in French, it was time for another drink before dinner arrived. Another Palmers for me, this time the 200, brewed to celebrate 200 years of brewing, and a good balance of sweet malt and a fruity bitterness.

And finally, to dinner. When beside the seaside, it has to be fish, a lovely piece of sea bass, great skin-on chips and nice big salad on the side. A delicious meal, and well worth the drive over from Weymouth (someone else did the driving, but it was worth it for them too). The silly tin bucket was soon disposed of 🙂

Well worth a visit if you find yourself along the Jurassic coast, and a worthy winner of pub of the month!

Beer of the month, June 2015

A feature that started out in January 2015, and the top beers of the month will go into an epic battle at the end of the year to be crowned beer of the year.

June was a competitive month (70 different beers and ciders sampled), as we were on holiday for the first week, which usually ensures a good few pub trips. And this holiday was near a Booths, which is the best supermarket, particularly when it comes to beer. We’ve also been camping twice, enjoying a tasty ale or two around the campfire, as well as a few pub meals out whilst away. As well as a trip to a local cider festival. I also visited a few London pubs last week.

However, in amongst all of this, there was a clear winner, and that was a 330ml bottle of Rhetoric Edition I by Hardknott brewery, found at Tebay services (told you they had good beer). Malty. Plummy. Raisiny. A hint of anise and some spiciness. A truly awesome beer. Strong and powerful, and one for savouring rather than a gentle session ale.

This could well finish in the top three at the end of the year…

Whisky Cabal 17 – The Next Generation

Since October 2010, a secret East Midlands cabal has been meeting to drink whisky and discuss the issues of the day, such as whether we should return to the gold standard. Shortly after our last evening of lively debate, one of our number decided to leave the area, and we waved goodbye to Bruce. However, this has not led to the demise of the cabal, so tonight we return, to taunt Doubting Bruce who thought that we would never meet again, and to raise a dram to absent friends. Let us begin. And we begin with the standard picture of what was to come…

Links are to our current supplier, Whisky-Online, or SMWS for their bottlings. Away we go.

Benriach 1999 PX, a 15 year old from cask 9150, priced at £65.95
Bottle 491 of 694, bottled in November 2014

On the nose : Sherry, raisins, treacle toffee, burnt sugar (all no surprise).
On the palate : Vanilla and a hint of marzipan.
The finish : Initially short, but then it comes back at you like a boomerang (our first Australian reference in tribute to Bruce).

The addition of water brings a touch of spikiness to the palate.

As Bruce has left the cabal, we felt the need to still hear his comments (for now at least), so we knocked up a quick bit of code to create BruceBot v.0.1

Comment from the BruceBot: reminds me of a random fruit from the Southern hemisphere that you guys have never heard of.

And finally, we finish with our marks out of 10. There has been much debate about our scoring system over the years, but we generally award marks between 6 and 10 (unless it’s some very poor bourbon that one of us has been given by a friend). Half marks are permitted, but one of our number prefers to go for smaller fractions at times.


G: 6 A: 6 R: 6 BruceBot: 7.5

A solid start and we move on to:-

Benriach 1999, a 13 year old from several casks, priced at £46.95
Bottled in 2014, matured in ex-bourbon barrels before being finished in Virgin American Oak casks.

On the nose : Toffee, treacle, a lighter Xmas cake.
On the palate : Smooth, with floral notes and a hint of nutmeg.
The finish : Smoother than our previous Ben, and a longer finish, as opposed to the “false fade” (80s vinyl reference from the BruceBot) of the previous Ben.


G: 7 A: 7 R: 7.5 BruceBot: 8

Another one that we would put on the mythical “pub whisky list”, a list of whiskies that we would be happy to find in any pub. Perhaps the BruceBot will start working on this now, as the real Bruce failed to deliver the goods. Next!

Laphroaig Triple Wood, no age statement (NAS), priced at £47.50
Quarter Cask bottling that has been finished in Oloroso sherry casks.

Aah, Laphroaig. The medicinal stuff beloved by pubs up and down the land. We did find one we liked once, Laphroaig PX, available in duty free outlets. How would this one stand up?

On the nose : Peat, smoke, frazzles (no surprises here).
On the palate : Err, smoke and peat. It’s not subtle.
The finish : A medium finish, and it doesn’t take long for that classic hit of TCP to arrive.

It’s the second drinkable Laphroaig, but as the BruceBot reminded us, it’s not as good as the Laphroaig PX.


G: 7.5 A: 5.5 R: 6 BruceBot: 5

At this point, we break for pizza:-

A random diversion. That piece of plastic in the middle of a pizza box. Have you ever thought about it?

Thirty years ago, Carmela Vitale of Dix Hills, New York, was issued a patent for a plastic 3-legged tripod stool that would sit in the middle of a box and keep the top from flopping on to your pizza, cakes or other foods kept in a box. Vitale called her invention a “package saver” and used that term also as the title of her patent, but it has since been renamed the “pizza saver” since that has become its most common use. The patent (#4,498,586) was filed on February 10, 1983, and issued on February 12, 1985. There’s even a song about her…

So, back to the whisky…

SMWS 66.64 A blacksmith at a barbeque, 10 years old, priced at £47.50
1st fill white wine hogshead from the Ardmore distillery

On the nose : Smoke, peat, burnt rubber, like standing next to Graham Dilley on the boundary.
On the palate : Sweet, spicy and fizzy, like mainlining sherbert dib dabs. A touch of madeira at the back of the mouth.
The finish : Take your time with this one, it’s very fighty but it does grow on you.

This is not a whisky to introduce your friends to. It does sound a bit poncy to say that this is one for the experienced drinker, but it really is. Adding a touch of water does soften it a touch, it retains spiciness but without fizziness.


G: 7 A: 7 R: 7.5 BruceBot: 7

With water:-

G: 6.5 A: 7.5 R: 7 BruceBot: 6

We should now take a random video break, as at this point in the evening, we started reminiscing about various former colleagues…

On to another from the SMWS crew…

SMWS 46.31 Sniffing a bee’s knees, 22 years old, priced at £82.20 (no link as it’s sold out)
Refill ex-bourbon hogshead from the Glenlossie distillery

On the nose : Musty, rising damp, a hint of citrus and some coconut.
On the palate : Citrus and cream soda, a sweet acidity.
The finish : It’s long, and smooths out with the addition of a little water.

This one is certainly an oddity. It’s weird in a good way, but as the BruceBot reminded us it’s not “Batshit Arse Mental Weird ™”.

Scores on the doors:-

G: 6.5 A: 5.5 R: 6 BruceBot: 6.5

Moving on. We arrive at:-

GlenDronach cask strength, batch 3, NAS, priced at £53
Combination of Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, bottled in 2013

On the nose : Raisins, burnt sugar, although more burnt than sugar
On the palate : Sweetness, but NMS. That’s “needs more sherry.”
The finish : Looooooooooonnnnnnnngggggg.

G: 6.5 A: 6.5 R: 7 BruceBot: 6.5

We have enjoyed many a GlenDronach dram over the years, but this one was not up in the top 10. There was no comment from the BruceBot at this point as it was too busy laughing at “Mr Tinarse’s failure to buy an awesome GlenDronach at last”…

It was at this point that we sought out our thoughts on the GlenDronach Parliament, recorded here. This was a revelation, as we found the following quote from the real Bruce:-

I’m also going on record to say I’ll produce a Pub Whisky summary within the next month. There, happy now? eh? bastards.

This has still never happened. And as the BruceBot is modelled on the real Bruce, we aren’t sure that we can rely on it to do the work either. So it looks like a case of shattered dreams for the cabal… Under the previous regime, this would be the point for a random YouTube video. We are happy to continue this tradition…


By this point in the evening, we had summarised that we had made our way through 6 solid performers, but nothing outstanding. A few samples of weird, but nothing weird enough to stand out. The winner was either the second Benriach or the SMWS 66.64. We believe that this was our first meeting featuring 100% unopened bottles. Due to our ruthless efficiency, we had time for one final dram, not pictured above. We move on to:-

Glenrothes 1998-2012, 14 years old, priced at £50
Bottled in 2013

On the nose : Vanilla and sugar
On the palate : Smooth, sweet, vanilla and some subtle spices.
The finish : Short.

G: 6 A: 6 R: 6 BruceBot: 6

A quality whisky for sure, very drinkable but nothing special. Another entry for the mythical pub whisky list. One day, maybe one day. We shall return for Cabal 18 at some point…

50th post, and a double 50th celebration

A mini-milestone for the MOFAD. After only a short time in the online world, The Minister of Food and Drink has reached 50 posts, mostly reviews of places visited, and a few other bits and pieces. There are at least 20 more posts lined up, and that’s just places visited in the last 6 months.

New ideas keep on coming too, such as the MOFAD map, conceived last weekend, and already taking shape. The idea is that it will eventually contain the locations of pubs, restaurants, cafes and shops across the country, so if you’re in an unfamiliar area, you can look on the map to see if there’s anywhere for you to visit.

The most popular post so far has been about the supermarket Booths, which is my favourite supermarket, and Triple Pork Nirvana is the most popular page (the first result on Google if you search for the term!) Visitors so far are from the UK, the US, Australia, Singapore, France and the Isle of Man.

The Facebook page has gained a good few followers without much promotional push, and this week saw the arrival of my 50th Twitter follower @londonbeervibe – you can find the Minister on Twitter @The_MOFAD

Lots more to come from the Minister of Food & Drink!

Voujon, Orsett

Although I grew up in Essex, it was a very long time before I had a curry there. When I moved away, curry started to become a regular part of my diet, and now it’s something we generally have once a week. You may have already spotted several curry house reviews. This is another of those.

Voujon is what now lives in the building that for almost all of my lifetime was known as the Orsett Cock. Apparently it dated back to around the 1820s, but it closed down in around 2010, and a curry house is now in its place. Swings and roundabouts. An appropriate turn of phrase, as the site is on the Orsett Cock roundabout.

A takeaway for us tonight, after a long journey down, we rang our order in from the M25 and picked it up on our way.

After 4 1/2 hours on the road, time for a little refreshment. This didn’t really touch the sides, but that’s ok, because I’ve had it 4 times this year already (hurrah for Untappd!)


Sadly there was a slight mix up on our order, and I ended up with a rather warm madras. It was nice, but not what I’d been looking forward to after battling the M1 for far too long. A Robinson’s Unicorn stood up to it fairly well, but it’s another case of NMH (needs more hops).


Very good curries and definitely worth a visit.

The Moon and Bell, Loughborough

Another comedy night out, this time a trip to Loughborough Town Hall, to see the brilliant Katherine Ryan. First, a quick food stop. We were a bit pressed for time tonight, so the safe bet is a Wetherspoon’s, and we now have two of those. The Moon and Bell is one, on the site of a former hardware store. The Wetherspoon’s chain are everywhere, and wherever you go, you know what you’re getting. Whether you’re in Hammersmith, Harlow or Hexham, you’ll find the same food menus and a great selection of real ales, bottled craft ales and some ciders, alongside the usual selection of fizzy watery stuff.

Refreshment for Mrs MOFAD was Abrahalls “Thundering Molly”, a good cider with a touch of sweetness:-

My choice was “Up T’Summit” from Brewsters Brewing Company, a nice golden ale, hoppy, floral and bitter:-

My food choice was the one I usually go for, the gourmet burger, with bacon, a cheese sauce, salad and onion rings:-

Always reliable, if you’re in a hurry or on a budget, your nearest Wetherspoon’s is a safe bet. Mrs MOFAD recommends the chickpea and spinach curry, which is usually her choice…

The Somers Town Coffee House, Kings Cross, London

Another classic London pub. Much like yesterday’s trip to The Alma, this was a convenient watering hole, after spending the day in the British Library. Again, like yesterday, wooden panelling, wooden floors and then some more wood give that classic feeling.

It is a pub, not a coffee house (a confusing name from history), but they do also serve coffee (looked good, but not sampled on this occasion). It’s about a quarter of the way up Chalton Street (heading NW from the Euston Road). Food is also on offer, but again, not sampled on this occasion.

When in London, why not start with a beer from Manchester? Two Hoots from Joseph Holt, first time not in a bottle, and all the better for not being stored in a clear glass bottle.

Keeping it more local (sort of) with a Young’s Blonde. Again, worth noting that Young’s is now part of Charles Wells who are from Bedford.

Just enough time for another before a short walk back to St Pancras to catch a train and then be home in just 80 minutes. The Somers is well worth checking out if you have a bit of time before a train from Euston, St Pancras or King’s Cross.