The Alma, Wandsworth Town, London

The Alma is certainly what I would call a classic London pub. Wooden floors, lots of wooden panelling, a bright and airy dining room at the back and a tiled finish on the outside.

It’s perfectly located directly opposite Wandsworth Town station (regular services to & from Vauxhall and Waterloo) and just a couple of minutes walk from the Express by Holiday Inn just on the other side of that same station (although The Alma has its own rooms too).

And a few local ales available too, which is why I stepped through the door. Well, technically local, since Young’s (the pub owner) is now part of Charles Wells who are from Bedford. First up was a Young’s Special, a very easy drinking and malty ale.

Next up a pint of Lazarus from Truman’s Brewery, an ancient London name that dates back to the time of the Great Fire of London. It disappeared in 1989, and then rose from the ashes in 2010, with a new brewery opening in Hackney Wick in 2013. This is good news for me, since I might be spending a few days in the area later on this year. Even better news is that this was a great pale ale with a hint of hoppiness. Paler than the photo suggests, this is what an IPA should look like. It’s not one, but it has the look.

To finish off, something even more local, a Wandle from Sambrook’s Brewery, just a short stroll along the south bank to Battersea away. An award winning ale apparently, but not tonight, as it was just rather average.

The Alma is a cracking London pub. I’d already eaten tonight, but the food does look good, so I hope to try some if I’m back in the area in the future.

Grand Union, Kennington, London

Summer has arrived. A lovely sunny day today, perfect for spending on a train, on the Underground, on the Underground again, and then another train. And then a short walk, another short walk, another train, another Underground trip, and then another short walk.

Thirsty work, certainly. Luckily there was a cool pint of Shepherd Neame’s Whistable Bay Pale Ale waiting behind the bar, to accompany plenty of good chat. There are several parts to this venue, including a large rooftop space, perfect for a London summer’s evening.

Next, a modern classic, BrewDog Punk IPA, lots of hoppy goodness, and fortunately (for me), the last one left in the fridge.

Luckily, there was another from the BrewDog stable in the fridge, a Dead Pony Club. No surprises here, a hoppy and citrus session hit.

There was also food on offer here, lots of mixed platters from the menu, nachos, pitta and hummus, slices of pizza, sweet potato fries and curly fries. If you’re in the vicinity of the Imperial War Museum, or taken by the need to do the Lambeth Walk, this is a nice little location for some refreshment.

The George Inn, Chideock

Our midsummer camping break continues, in celebration of Matt’s birthday. After a cracking day out, with some natural wonders at Portland Bill, and then some classic seaside pushy pushy tat at Weymouth.

For dinner, a trip along the A35 to Chideock, upon the recommendation of the birthday boy. This takes us to the George Inn, a traditional Dorset thatched pub run by Steve and Emma who worked at 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.

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 little 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).

Let there be no doubt, The George Inn is MOFAD approved! Worth a visit if you find yourself along the Jurassic coast…

The Royal Standard, Upwey

It’s a long way to go in order to get to the seaside. We live just a few miles from the “point furthest from the sea”, so it is a trek to get to the coast. North Norfolk is generally our coast of choice, but this weekend it was Matt’s birthday, and the venue was Weymouth.

After a longer than necessary journey (cursed by the M5 as usual being a nightmare), we arrived at the fantastic Higher Moor farm campsite, to be greeted by a very friendly welcome from the lovely people there. We quickly pitched, and settled down with a quick drink and some chat. And a trip to their award winning toilets 🙂

Soon, it was time for some dinner, and we headed up the road to The Royal Standard. Which just happens to be West Dorset’s only microbrewery pub. Another coincidence or just great planning? You might have worked out by now, planning is the key to great trips with good food and drink in the mix 🙂

First up tonight, a Stargazer from Yeovil Ales, a nice bitter to start off the evening. At this point, we broke out the Uno for a spot of gaming whilst waiting for dinner to arrive.

For Mrs MOFAD, a Sheppy’s Cider, from Sheppy’s Cider…

Moving on, a pint of “The Usual” by Milk Street Brewery (Uno continuing in the background), which went very well with…

…a lamb shank. This is a pub classic, and is something I will often go for if it is on. It is hard to mess it up, and if it’s cooked just right, then it’s very good. This one was indeed good, braised in a red wine and garlic jus.

Mrs MOFAD opted for the pie of the day. Pie is a controversial thing. Is the item pictured a pie?

I would say not. That is a casserole, with a pastry top. A pie should be totally encased by pastry, it’s not just some stuff with a lid on top. However, despite this controversy, it was very tasty, and The Royal Standard is MOFAD approved.

Gloucester Services (Southbound) (again)

A week is a long time in politics. It’s also a long time in service station visits.

Another Friday off work, another camping trip, another visit to that lovely M5. Just like last week, there was an oasis in this desert of tedium that we call the M5. A second visit to Gloucester Services.

In case you missed it last week, Gloucester Services are owned by the Westmorland Family group, who also own Tebay Services/Westmorland Farm Shops, near junction 38 of the M6.

Gloucester is a modern day carbon copy of Tebay. The grass on the verges still hasn’t grown yet (it’s a lot to expect in just a week).

Once again we stocked up on tasty provisions, to be consumed later in our journey, as well as some nice coffee to consume in the meantime. There was something immensely satisfying about buying really nice sandwiches and crisps and drinks and salad and what not, and then stopping at another service station later on to eat all of that nice stuff, before the final leg of the journey.

Weymouth is a long way from Leicestershire. At least there’s somewhere pleasant to stop along the way.

The Marquis Wellington, Leicester (again)

The Marquis Wellington is the favourite pre-show haunt of Mrs MOFAD and I, as I have previously written about.

Tonight it was another trip to De Montfort Hall, this time to see Reginald D. Hunter, who we last saw at the Melbourne Comedy Festival last year (you’ve probably worked out that food, drink and comedy are a big part of our lives).

Our visit didn’t get off to the greatest of starts, with several mix ups on our order, which was a very simple one. However, after interacting with three different staff members about it (one of them about four times) it did all get sorted out.

As usual, a good selection of ales available tonight, including something very new – Hop Rising, an IPA brewed on the premises. This was a no-brainer for me, and I went straight for it:-

Sweet and hoppy, and unlike most IPAs I’ve had. Very good nose, and the sweetness on the palate just adds a little something. I’m sure this won’t be for everyone, but I really liked it on a warm summer night. Although (as I usually complain about most IPAs) it does lack paleness.

As I also mentioned last time, Wednesday just happens to be pie and pint night, and this time there was a cider on offer for Mrs MOFAD (Symonds Founders Reserve). And just like last time, there was no contest. It had to be the chicken and pulled pork pie once more. We have had this before. We have liked it before. We had it again. We will probably have it next time. It is a very nice pie, and a manageable portion.

I still maintain that this is a chicken and pulled ham pie, but it is very nice whatever you want to call it. The Marquis is definitely MOFAD approved, but I don’t know what happened to the MOFAD card that was left last time. It wasn’t on display anywhere 🙂

Will be back again in just two weeks 🙂

Harveys beer haul…

Mmm, beers. A big thanks to MOFAD staff Hazel & Matt who just happened to find themselves in the region of Harveys brewery in Lewes last weekend. They just happened to mention this to me and asked if I would like any beer. Cheekily, I sent them a list of everything in their online shop that I’d not had before. “Just whatever you can carry” I said.

Luckily for me, they could carry the lot, and it made its way safely to our little weekend get together. Although the Copper Ale, Bloomsbury Brown, Bill Brewer and John Hop did not make it back alive… The interloping Cheltenham SPA ales in the picture were procured on our way to this rendezvous, during a stop off at the new Gloucester Services (from the lovely people who brought you Tebay Services)…