The Parcel Yard, Leicester, February 2017

Have you guessed? Another night out at the Leicester comedy festival. If you look back through February 2015 and February 2016 (and all “pre-MOFAD” Februarys) you’ll find this familiar pattern. The Leicester comedy festival goes from strength to strength, with this year’s shows stretching out through three and a half weeks, and a huge mixture of “standard” tour shows, work in progress shows, podcast recordings, new material nights and a few special events (such as Robin Ince’s only live solo show in 2017).

On then to our choice of dining tonight, The Parcel Yard. We came here last year before a show, it’s perfectly placed for Leicester station (which is why it was absolutely packed tonight, more on that in a moment). It’s also a short walk to De Montfort Hall, which is where we were heading afterwards.

Why was it so packed? Ah, that’s an easy one when you spot lots of striped rugby shirts inside. Leicester Tigers had been playing at home, having beaten Bristol 50-17. The pub closest to the station is very likely to be busy, as fans eventually make their way home, once suitably refreshed. And there were quite a few that were suitably refreshed.

This does lead to one other thing. A limited menu. This is a sound business decision, and a very sensible one. If you know you are going to be packed out, the last thing you can possibly do is offer a full menu and get all those hungry people fed in good time. So you limit your offerings in order to keep service speedy and customers happy. As a customer, if there’s nothing you fancy from the more limited menu then you can vote with your feet and go elsewhere.

There was something that we both wanted so I trundled off to the bar and ordered. My beer choice was a pint of Ruckin’ Flanker, a collaboration between Steamin’ Billy (owner of the pub) and Charnwood Brewery.

The limited menu contains a selection of burgers from the usual menu – not all of them, as there’s one missing, sadly the one I was going to choose. There are also “favourites” such as fish’n’chips, steak, vegetable lasagne and all day breakfasts, the full selection of pizzas, and some salads, sandwiches and sides. Plenty of things to choose from.

Because we were right at the front of the pub (it’s quite a long building), Mrs MOFAD was pondering how they would spot us to bring the food out (there are no table numbers, spoons with numbers, flower pots with numbers, wine bottles with numbers or any other identifying items). Thankfully (perhaps), the barman serving had entered “middle aged guy by front door” into the till, so they would know where to find their customer. I guess I can’t really argue with that.

On to the food. I am often a creature of habit, so I had the Q burger again, beef burger topped with pulled pork, crispy bacon, Red Leicester cheese, onion rings and pickles served with fries and coleslaw. Just like last year, it was very tasty. And just like last year, there was no plate, just this wooden tray that you’d expect to find in your greenhouse or shed. How do I sprinkle vinegar on my chips? Where does my blob of sauce go to dip those chips in? We want plates!

Mrs MOFAD had a pizza again, this time the Steamin’ Hawaiian, topped with ham hock, spiced pineapple chunks & mushrooms.

This was less good, as it appeared to have either been over cooked (although not burnt) or left under a heat lamp for too long, as the ham was quite dry, and the base was almost cracker-crisp in places.

We were soon fed and watered, and then wandered back up London Road to De Montfort Hall to watch Sue Perkins in “Spectacles” – some readings from her recent autobiography mixed with amusing photos and other stories, and a Q&A section in the second half.

An entertaining night out, which would have been even better if the chuntering women behind us could have kept their mouths shut for more than 30 seconds. When their mouths weren’t full of wine they were nattering away about nonsense, occasionally related to an on stage anecdote. It’s fair to say that there were a lot of people out tonight who had not been out to a comedy show before.