Pub of the month, May 2016 – The Needle & Pin, Loughborough

A busy month for pub visits, as spring thinks about turning in to summer. Most of these are from our trip to Yorkshire at the start of the month, where we were blessed with many great pubs. There’s a London one in there too, and something much more local.

We start at the Black Horse Hotel, Grassington. It had been raining all morning on the day of our visit, so we had a lie in before an afternoon walk to Linton Falls and back down in to Grassington.

Grassington is blessed with several pub options, we chose the Black Horse as it looked like the best one from our research. You can eat in the bar area (next to the lovely log burner) or in a separate restaurant area, it’s totally up to you. We chose the bar, grabbed a couple of menus and ordered some sandwiches for lunch (not all of the pubs in the village do sandwiches at lunch). The lunch was very nice, but we want plates, not boards and buckets!

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We travel back in time by 24 hours and to the New Inn, Clapham (Yorkshire, not London). Another moist day saw us venturing underground to Ingleborough caves and then up to Trow Gill. We headed back down into the village a little later, and were pleased to arrive at a pub after 2pm to be greeted by a menu offering lunch until 6pm. I know I bang on about this a fair bit, but it’s something that gets my goat.

No goat on the menu today, just tasty sandwiches. Breaded cod loin for me (super posh fish finger sandwich) and crayfish, smoked salmon and prawn for Mrs MOFAD. Both served with seasoned chips and a nicely dressed little salad. Just a shame there were no plates, although they do warn you in advance that they have forsaken the dear old plate. A lovely lunch in a lovely pub with a lovely log fire. Perfect for today!

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Forward a couple of days now, and we find ourselves on another walk. The weather has improved, and we walked from Malham Tarn, down into Malham and then back up to the tarn again, via Malham Cove (which, back in December 2015, saw water flowing over the top of it for the first time in around 200 years).

Malham is also blessed with plenty of pubs, and we had spotted The Lister Arms on our last visit, earmarking it for a future lunch stop. It’s another of those sensible pubs that doesn’t shut the kitchen at 2pm sharp (I’ll stop going on about this one day), so when we arrived at 2:30pm, there was no problem getting a table or ordering some rather tasty food.

This giant pulled pork focaccia certainly replenished lost calories from today’s walk, although the plateless trend continues…

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Fast forward around 5 hours, and we find ourselves back in Settle, at the Talbot Arms, the pub of the month from August 2015, and a contender in April 2016 too. On this visit, it was quiz night, and the fact that we won the quiz has nothing to do with the pub appearing in the nominations for pub of the month. It’s all to do with the fact that this is a brilliant pub in the lovely market town of Settle. Great beers as ever, a lovely home made cheeseburger, and plates! Yes, plates! We love this pub.

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To old Londinium town next, and another former pub of the month nominee, in the shape of The Alma, Wandsworth. Staying in the area for work once again meant that a return visit was definitely on the cards. In June 2015 I said “the food does look good, so I hope to try some if I’m back in the area in the future”. Today was that future. And the food was good. Everyone in my little group ordered the rump steak, a pub classic that is brilliant if you get it right. They got it right. A rare rump steak with garlic butter on top, served with shoestring fries, lambs leaf lettuce, a fried mushroom and a tomato. There was also some perfect English mustard on the side – an essential with steak! It was utterly delicious and devoured with vigour.

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So, on to our winner. The Needle & Pin has already appeared three times on the blog, and was nominated for pub of the month last month. May’s visit was not for any special occasion, just a chance to get together with the boys to drink good beer and eat good pizza. We did all of those things in the relaxed surroundings of Loughborough’s newest micropub, and definitely my new favourite town pub. Great beer, no gimmicks. A worthy winner for this month. Where else in town would you find “Hickey the Rake” by Wylam brewery, an attack of lemons and hops and full of good sharp flavours. Answer – nowhere!

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The unrivalled range of beers on tap and in the fridges (in our sleepy little town at least) make this a deserving winner.

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