The Royal Hotel, Hayfield, August 2016 #2

Hang on I hear you say. Weren’t you here last night? Yes, we were. After a rainy day out on the bikes we decided that a nice quiet evening in the pub was required. We had popped in to The Sportsman Inn but they were absolutely rammed, so we walked down in to the village again, and back to the Royal Hotel, as we had enjoyed it last night.

Same drill as last night, grab menus, sit down, order food and drink. First up a pint of Longdendale Lights by Howard Town Brewery, a good session pale ale:-

Dinner was well earned, despite a curtailed ride.  For me it was the Royal burger (beef and horseradish), topped with bacon and cheese and served with a salad garnish and chips, whilst Mrs MOFAD opted for the burger sliders – three mini-burgers of pulled pork, beef and chicken served with chips.

The sliders could have done with something else to accompany them (I donated my coleslaw), and the rolls were a little dry, but the fillings were all good. My burger was nice also, just a hint of horseradish, and a good brioche bun. Despite the silly mesh bucket, we did get plates, and a hint of salad garnish. A very nice burger.

This was accompanied by a Marston’s pale ale, typically average Marston’s stuff.

Thankfully, there was time for another Longdendale Lights since that was much better. There were a few other ales on that I’d had before too. Another nice night at The Royal Hotel, definitely worth popping in if you’re in Hayfield. Although they do stop serving food at 7pm on Sundays, which is slightly annoying on a Bank Holiday weekend! It does pretty much guarantee that we’ll be eating elsewhere tomorrow night though.

The Royal Hotel, Hayfield, August 2016

Hooray, hooray, it’s a bank holiday (weekend). Going camping for the duration is very much a thing we do. In 2015, we went to Settle (Yorkshire), 2014 saw cycling in Napton (Warwickshire), 2013 was Banbury (Oxfordshire), with a long detour via Dundee for me, 2012 brought Wareham (Dorset), 2011 was Uffington (Oxfordshire), and 2010 saw us camping near Eyam (Derbyshire).

So this weekend it was time for Derbyshire again, a trip to Hayfield, where we stayed at Easter a few years ago. Just up above the village is a very nicely kept Camping and Caravanning Club camp site, which was to be our base for the weekend.

Even better news is that it is just a few minutes walk away from The Sportsman Inn. However, this is a very popular pub for diners, so it’s sometimes hard to get a table.

We decided to wander down into the village (it’s very definitely down) to have some dinner on our first night. We settled on The Royal Hotel, where we’ve eaten on a few previous visits to Hayfield. We grabbed a couple of menus, found a table and ordered. A drink first, Mrs MOFAD opted for Aspall cider, which was on draught.

My first choice was DB Number One from Dorking brewery, with malts, a little hint of hop, and maybe a tiny amount of smokiness…

Dinner was soon served, and we both opted for “Italian chicken”, chicken breast stuffed with mozzarella and wrapped in parma ham, served on a bed of crushed new potatoes with a rich tomato sauce.

It was quite nice, but the tomato sauce needs a bit more work. It wasn’t “rich” as described, and a little bit watery. Another 5 minutes of reduction and it would have probably been about right. A bit under seasoned too – it’s rare that you’ll find me sprinkling salt on something other than fish’n’chips! A good selection of seasonal veg, and the chicken was good too, just needs a bit more work on the tomato sauce.

This was accompanied by a pint of Byatt’s “Marvellous English IPA”. If this wasn’t labelled as an IPA I would score it higher. It is writing cheques that it can’t cash. Nice beer but not an IPA.

A lovely first night in Hayfield in a nice village pub! I’m sure we’ll be back…

The Moon and Bell, Loughborough, August 2016

I have reached the point where I’m filling up with repeats. Some places were always bound to be repeated, especially favourites like The Needle & Pin and other regular hangouts. Some places get visited for specific purposes, usually on the way to something else.

The Moon & Bell is such a place. If we’re off to something at the Town Hall, then we’ll usually go here, because the food is quick and tasty, and there’s always something nice to drink. Tonight it was a pre-cinema dining venue. I can’t remember the last time that we went to the cinema in town. It’s probably been more than 10 years. Our local fleapit got run down and neglected, although it has allegedly upped its game.

However, we were off to visit the new kid in town, Cineworld, which is the centrepiece of a new development in place of our former town centre hosptial. It is full of chains that are also new to the town, but today we went for a familiar chain in the form of one of our two Wetherspoon pubs.

Some drinks first. Mrs MOFAD opted for a Milestone Brewing Co Raspberry & Wheat beer, which was pretty much all wheat and no raspberry.

As I’ve already mentioned, there are always plenty of beers to choose from, sometimes it’s hard to choose one. However, when I see the magic letters I, P and A they usually catch my eye. They are also very prone to false advertising though, and tonight there was another one falling in to that category. JDW Allegra IPAnema by Truman’s Brewery was a topical beer (Rio Olympics cash in) but nothing like an IPA. Sweet malts but no hops…

On to dinner. Something a bit different for once (the gourmet burger is my usual go to choice). Today it was salmon with bearnaise sauce, jacket potato and salad. It looks a little minimalist on the classic ‘Spoons plate (yay, a plate) but most importantly it was very tasty, with a piquant sauce (although they appeared to have forgotten to put any tarragon in).

Proof that you can eat healthily (I was just looking for some fish rather than a specific “health” meal) in a chain pub on a night out. You should probably leave the sauce alone if you are trying to be healthy though!

Going to the ‘Spoons is not all about a pint of Stella for breakfast, amusing though this stereotype is 🙂

The Priory, August 2016

We want plates!

I’m just saving time by summing up this review in my opening sentence. This is pretty much the same of all of my previous Priory reviews. They still aren’t getting the message that a plate is a thing.

So, on with the rest of it.

First, the new (to The Priory at least). Something other than Deuchars IPA (not an IPA) is now available. It’s Caledonian Three Hop, which is sadly false advertising. They’ve changed the glass design since I had it in The Snakecatcher, but they still haven’t put in the hops.

Next we play a game of “spot the deliberate mistake”. What is missing from this picture of a blue cheese and bacon burger?

Stupid metal tray instead of plate? Check!

Salad? Check!

Bacon? Check!

Blue cheese? Check!

Burger? Ah, err, no.

There was a bit of an error in the kitchen, and they forgot to put the burger in this burger. Luckily this was soon corrected, and the silly metal tray returned with a burger in the burger. As ever, it was very tasty, and very nicely done, but we still want plates!

Plates plates plates!

Quorndon Fox, Quorn, August 2016

Chain pubs don’t have to be bad. I talked about this when reviewing The Mitre, Oxford in May 2016.

Vintage Inns are another example of the good chain. We’ve been to them around the country, in Lincolnshire, Gloucestershire, Derbyshire and probably some other shires too. A Christmas visit to The Otter was my last trip to a Vintage Inn. You know what you’re going to get – decent food and usually a good few ales on the bar. The menu is the same up and down the country, and they change them regularly throughout the seasons.

Here’s an example of those good ales – Abbeydale Moonshine, a classic example of the session pale ale, light and hoppy.

You can also keep it light with a simple sandwich menu, offering things like chicken BLT -grilled chicken breast, sweetcure bacon, gem lettuce and tomato. There’s also chargrilled rump steak with horseradish mayonnaise, beer-battered cod goujons and samphire tartare sauce (posh fish fingers), prawn and hot-smoked salmon, Taw Valley cheddar and pickle or Yorkshire ham and grain mustard. These are  all served with “straw fries” (Stringfellows for all you 80s frozen chip children).

There are also steaks, burgers and pizzas as well as a main menu with classics like Hunter’s chicken, steak and mushroom pie, fish’n’chips etc.

I ordered the chicken BLT, which was a good bap with good chips. And served on plates!!! The little chip bowl had been heated up to keep the chips warm, so it served a purpose but I still tipped them out anyway.

On warm summer evenings there’s also a nice beer garden out the back to enjoy. We were dining in the garden, and you get to go and raid the fridge for condiments. No tiny sachets here, go and grab a jar of mayonnaise or tomato sauce or whatever from the fridge and spoon yourself some out.

A decent sandwich at a decent price with a decent price. The Quorndon Fox is indeed MOFAD approved!

Cloudwater DIPA v3

I’ve been using Untappd since the start of 2014. Everything I drink gets checked in there. It’s a great way to keep track of what you’ve drunk, what you’ve enjoyed, and, perhaps more importantly, what you’ve not enjoyed, and should avoid next time around.

As well as giving a score out of 5 (and you can now rate beers with quarters of a point, it used to be only halves), you can leave a short review of up to 140 characters. Most of the time, that is enough. Sometimes, the word meh is more than enough to describe what you’ve drunk. It’s amazing how eloquent some people can be with only 140 characters, and also how funny.

Anyway, why am I prattling on about all that? Well, because I decided that Cloudwater DIPA v3 probably deserved a little more than 140 characters to talk about it. I talked about Cloudwater on Sunday, so I won’t go into too much detail about them here.

This v3 was released on the 9th of April. I didn’t get any at the time, but did manage to snaffle a bottle when picking up my v6 and v7 at the weekend. There have been some recent reviews that suggest it is not as good as when it was fresh, but mine had obviously been stored well as it felt like it was in pretty good condition to me.

It’s a 9% double IPA (DIPA). It doesn’t taste like a 9% DIPA. With many beers of high strength, you can taste the alcohol, and sometimes it can overpower the flavours of the beer (often called “alcohol burn”). Not so here, it is very dangerously drinkable for a 9% beer. In fact, it’s wonderfully drinkable for a 9% beer. You should still try to sip it to appreciate it, but mine didn’t last all that long because it was so drinkable.

A lovely hop haze there. Juicy Citra and Mosaic hops mingle with Chinook and Comet. Vermont ale yeast makes a big contribution to this beer, bringing a peach flavour to do battle with the tropical notes from the hops. It would appear that over time the hops might have fought back a bit more than when everyone tried it back in April.

When you have a limited edition beer like this, that was so talked about on social media (not really hyped up by its creators though), it can often lead to disappointment. You can expect so many things from a bottle of liquid because so much has been said and people got whipped up in to a frenzy because they could only buy one bottle each (or whatever). Enough time has passed to be over the talk.

The only disappointment is that I’ll never get to have another bottle of this, because I bloody loved it. I love huge and flavoursome IPAs. This was very much one of those. I just kept sniffing it and drinking it. I have a sneaky feeling it will be beer of the month for August, but that could depend on when I open v6 and v7.

I just hope the others can live up to this one. A lovely beer.

Wagamama, Leicester, August 2016

I am using Wagamama throughout this post as I disagree with the lower case w at the start of their name.

I seem to be writing a lot about chains at the moment. Our travels over the last couple of months have involved visiting quite a few chain places, but they don’t always have to be bad.

Wagamama is another in the list of “good chains”. There’s been a lot written about the homogenisation of our high streets in recent years, but a little standardisation (although not too much) ought to be a good thing, because you can go to a new town or city and if you’re not prepared to take a risk, you can find somewhere to eat where you know what you will be getting.

Wagamama has been with us since 1992 when the first one opened in Bloomsbury. There are now over 140 of them around the world, with most being based in the UK. But you can also enjoy Japanese ramen style eating in Cyprus, Denmark, Kuwait, New Zealand and Slovakia, to name but a few.

With the redevelopment of The Shires shopping centre in Leicester, which became Highcross Leicester in 2008, a range of new cafe/restaurant/bar chains arrived. Wagamama was one of these. The redevelopment has left Leicester at the forefront of East Midlands shopping experiences, and it’s somewhere we often find ourselves when we actually have to leave the house to buy stuff (it’s nice to see the physical product on occasion).

Tonight we’d had a brief shopping trip so were looking for somewhere to eat without too much fuss and delay (because there are Olympic sports to be watched!) It took no time at all to decide to pop in here for dinner, and as it was a quiet Tuesday evening it took no time at all to get seated and order dinner.

Both myself and Mrs MOFAD went for our favourites. For me that’s chicken katsu curry, for Mrs MOFAD that’s teriyaki chicken donburi. Here’s that curry:-

They have also upped their beer game in recent times. One of the latest additions to the menu is this Hitachino Nest White Ale, a Japanese wheat beer. This is a very interesting beer indeed, with coriander, orange and nutmeg flavours lurking within.

As you might expect, these flavours go very well with Japanese cuisine. This might be the best beer match I’ve yet spotted in a chain restaurant.

Wagamama is a good chain. It works. A good choice of food, an excellent beer and when these both match up in a relaxed atmosphere, you have a great informal dining experience that works well if you’re watching the clock, but is also good if you have more time on your hands. If you have a choice of chains on your local high street, this one won’t let you down.