John Cooper’s Restaurant & Bar (JCs), December 2016

A student bar? Whatever next?

During the years 1992 to 1996, I spent a great deal of time in this particular one. It looked quite a bit different. There were certainly no craft beers back then, just Woodpecker cider and Harp lager (99p a pint!), and things like Castaway and Diamond White (that could be combined to form a “Blastaway”). I could spend a lot of time talking about the past (K “Cider”, the purple nasty, Hooch, Two Dogs, Mad Dog 20/20 and other nastiness) but this is all about now.

There was much uproar in 2016 when JCs was refurbished to wipe away any trace of the old cheap student bar that once stood here. There’s no horseshoe bar any more. There’s still a slight feel of spit and sawdust about it, and any visit to the facilities will soon remind you that you are in a Student Union bar, but they have tried to glam it up a bit with some “pre-distressed” panels.

It would be nice to show you a photo from 1992, but we didn’t have camera phones permanently attached to our fingers back then, so photographic records are sparse.

Back to the present day, and a glance through the menu shows plenty of lunch options, such as a selection of sandwiches (BLT, cheese, ham & cheese, club, steak), as well as burgers and pizzas.

Before we get on to the food (and the wait won’t be as long as the wait that we had), here is one of those aforementioned craft beers.

Nice glass, although the IPL (India Pale Lager) didn’t really live up to its name. Still the nicest lager I’ve ever drunk in 24 years of visiting this establishment though. About four times what I used to pay though!

On to the wait.

Still waiting.

We were dining in a large group (12). We were asked to pre-order. We did that. Once again, that seems to have served no purpose, as the food took ages to arrive, with big gaps between dishes coming out, a confusion over a couple of pizzas, and the longest wait was for my crispy duck pizza. I think they were trying to catch the duck.

I do like a crispy duck pizza, but so often they skimp on the duck. That was the case here, and they skimped on the hoisin too. Sprinkling the green bits over the top at the last minute doesn’t really work either, because they fall off when you pick up each slice.

It’s a student bar, so set your expectations accordingly. I think we expected too much.

Christmas gift ideas 2016 – Springhead brewery

Time is running out for my Christmas 2016 beer ideas, because there are not many delivery days left before Christmas.

Springhead are a relatively local brewery to me, over the border in Nottinghamshire. In September 2014, we were camping just down the road from The Bees Knees in Laneham, which just happens to be their brewery tap. There’s good food as well as the chance to sample their beers at the freshest. You can also pick up lots of beer to take home. Which we did, of course.

You can also e-mail or phone your orders through, and then pop in to the brewery for your beers, collect from their central Nottingham pick up point, or they can deliver the beers straight to your door within their normal delivery area, which includes most of the Midlands and South Yorkshire. They also ship canned and bottled beers nationally.

Here are some of their beers that I’ve had recently.  Outlawed was a well flavoured pale ale, whilst The Leveller is a Trappist style ale, a dark Belgian beer full of coffee, toffee and chocolate flavours. The Bees Knees is a golden beer made with local wildflower honey, golden and mellow and very easy drinking.

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Roaring Meg is their flagship beer that they have been brewing for over 20 years. A strong pale ale with a sweet citrus and honey aroma and a long dry finish. Maid Marian was first brewed in 2010 in honour of the new Robin Hood film, another pale ale with hoppy and fruity aromas. Ginger Pig is one that has divided opinion a bit. A pale beer based on a 13th century recipe that includes rosemary. It has subtle flavours of ginger, rosemary and lime. I loved it.

You can find some of these, and other beers, here:-

http://www.springhead.co.uk/beer-to-take-home