Harvester Wilford, April 2017

“Have you ever been to a Harvester before?”

“Yeah, loads of times.”

Although not so much recently. We live just 300m away from one, and used to go there a bit in our younger days. Times move on, people move on. I can’t remember the last time we went there together, although I’ve been there once or twice for work lunches, as it is close by.

Tonight, someone else had organised a get together at a pub outside Nottingham, which happened to be a Harvester. We trotted off up the newly widened A453 and soon found ourselves at the Harvester in Wilford to meet friends and catch up on what’s been happening recently.

The evening opened with a shock, a Marston’s beer with an actual hop profile. I hope you were sitting down when you read that.

This was 61 Deep, their newest beer, named after the depth of the well at the Burton brewery. Five American and Australian hops were needed for this, but you can at least taste some of the hoppiness. It’s probably my favourite Marston’s, which isn’t saying much, but it is a pleasant pint. You’ll spot their new branding on the pint glass too, the result of a one million pound rebranding project at the end of last year. I’m not convinced by it.

On to eating. The most famous thing that most people know about Harvester is the free salad bar when you order any meal. You can return to serve yourself with as much salad as you like. It’s not just tired bits of iceberg either, a good selection of salad items to choose from. You can spot tomato, beetroot, sweetcorn, pineapple, olives, tomatoes and the always popular crispy onion bits and red devil sauce. Some things have not changed!

The main menu has loads to choose from, ribs, burgers, the famous rotisserie chicken (available in various combinations with other bits of chicken and ribs etc.), fish, steaks and vegetarian and vegan options.

My choice was the peri-peri chicken burger, a grilled chicken breast with peri-peri mayo, smashed avocado and Monterey Jack cheese. With a chilli on top. I crunched this first, and it was nicely spicy.

It was a decent pub chicken burger, not spicy enough to put off the average palate, but with just a hint of piquancy. You can always slap on some more spicy sauce from the sauce bar. Decent chips too, and it was actually served on a plate (hiding underneath that horrid wax paper stuff).

A quick and convenient chain pub/restaurant, ideal for catching up with friends.

The Old Hall Hotel, Hope, April 2017 #3

We keep coming back. Tonight we came back for the pub quiz. You might have already worked out that we love a pub quiz.

First up a Peculier Pale Ale from Theakston, a cold, smooth and inoffensive keg ale from Theakston. Very middle of the road.

Food arrived soon afterwards. Tonight I went for the Derbyshire bacon and cheese steak burger, with red coleslaw and skinny fries.

Just one small problem. The bacon and cheese were missing, much like parts of yesterday’s lunch. And yesterday’s plates have been replaced with boards and a silly basket for the fries. It was a very tasty burger and a nice coleslaw, just a shame that there were bits missing.

It was accompanied by another Theakston brew, the Peculier IPA.

How on earth can you call this an IPA? In the same “class” as Greene King so called IPA. Ou est le hop? A pretty poor excuse for an IPA, just a very dull keg ale, all malt and no hops. If this was your first introduction to IPA, you’d never bother going back and be missing out on some stunning beers. This is not an IPA. Back to school for Theakston.

A nice dinner at The Old Hall, I think they just need to tighten up a bit in the kitchen at the moment as there appears to be a lack of attention to detail on the meals that are going out. It’s still a lovely village pub.

Oh, and the very worst bit? There was no pub quiz. It was cancelled for a private event. So we went back to the cottage instead.

Buxton Brewery Tap, April 2017

We’ve been here before. In May 2015 to be precise. Ever since that visit we’ve been wanting to come back. It took almost 2 years, but we made it 🙂

After a leisurely morning of strolling around Buxton, including a little shopping at Beer District, we were ready for some lunch. There was only ever going to be one place we were going to go. I had been singing the praises of Buxton Brewery Tap for a while, and with MOFAD drinking companions Matt & Steve as well as Mrs MOFAD, Hazel, Janette and Andy and Kerrie all in tow, I was hoping that there would be something for everyone here.

There was.

My choice was Myrica, a tasty session IPA with oaty smoothness and hazy hoppiness

Mrs MOFAD opted for the Sky Mountain Sour, a collaboration between Buxton and To Øl which has resulted in a nicely balanced sour ale. Mrs MOFAD was a fan of this.

Matt & Steve both had a Rednik Stout which was right up their street. Kerrie tried the Lemon Meringue Pie, which both Mrs MOFAD and I really like. She was not a fan, but surprisingly Hazel (the queen of tea who is not a beer drinker) liked it, and ended up with a bottle to take home.

On to that lunch, I had a buffalo burger with potato wedges, which was very tasty and a perfect portion for lunch. Mrs MOFAD opted for chicken souvlaki, marinated in yoghurt, mustard, lemon & oregano and served with sautéed peppers, tzatziki, sunblush salad & pitta breads. This which was also very nice. My burger came from the specials board, so it might not be available when you visit. Perhaps plates will be though, as this burger appeared on a board.

On then to the shopping. You can’t come here and not take away a bottle or two. Or ten. You’ll spot the “Belgians” on the left, a Bourbon Skyline (barrel aged Berliner weisse), another Sky Mountain Sour and Lemon Meringue Pie for Mrs MOFAD, a Trolltunga (just another gooseberry sour IPA), a Superluminal (sour IPA) and one more.

That last one is Bomba Generation 4, the sequel to Tsar Bomba Generation III which was almost beer of the year for me in 2016. Generation 4 of the Buxton Brett fermented Imperial Stout has been born. The yeast strain from 1978 is alive and well and has chewed relentlessly through the regular Russian Imperial Stout to bring us the Great Grandson of the original batch. This one will go into storage for a while, and come out on a special occasion. If it’s as good as Generation III then it will be rather special.

Matt & Steve also did some shopping, although none of us could convince the nice people behind the bar to thrown in a free glass, despite the amount that we were all spending…

Another great trip to the Buxton Brewery Tap. If you are ever in Buxton, go there. You will find good food and great beer to drink in and take away. End of.

Lamb and Lion Inn, York, April 2017

Dinner time in York once more. After a lovely day wandering around the walls, we headed back to our hotel for a rest and a cup of tea, and then headed back out across the city again. We fancied some good pub grub tonight, so followed our noses out to the Lamb and Lion, in the shadow of York Minster, and just a few yards from the walls (we looked down into the pub’s beer garden from the walls a few hours ago).

We found the last free table in the bar area, settled in and then ordered some food and drinks from the bar. This was a pint of Guzzler from the very local York Brewery, a gentle golden ale with a hint of caramel.

Our food arrived shortly afterwards, my choice was the Lamb and Lion burger, with bacon and cheddar, beer battered onion rings and a silly basket of skinny fries. This was really tasty, a cracking pub burger with lovely crispy onion rings.

Mrs MOFAD opted for the Cawood heritage tomato risotto with halloumi, which is not a dish I’ve ever seen before on a menu. It was also very tasty (if a little blurred as I was rushing to tuck in to my burger!)

We had another destination to visit, so didn’t linger any longer. The Lamb & Lion is a classic pub with great food and is well worth seeking out if you are on a trip to York.

Recommended.

Walmgate Ale House, York, April 2017

Another place that was on our “to go” list for York. Walmgate Ale House and Bistro is housed in a 17th century listed building on Walmgate. It was originally opened in 2001, as Melton’s Too, by Michael and Lucy Hjort. Their family has owned and run businesses in York since 1990. Before the Hjort family took over the building, it was owned by Ellerker’s. From 1795, Ellerker’s sold saddles, harnesses and rope. Ellerker’s was commissioned to make the hangman’s nooses for York Prison (now York Castle Museum). This led to the phrase “For me there is no hope – was Ellerker’s made this rope.”

Walmgate Ale House and Bistro has kept the horse’s head at the front of the building from the Ellerker’s days as a symbol of pride in the building’s heritage. The interior also reflects the history of the building with ropes, saddles and old photographs from the days of Ellerker’s.

Downstairs is the bar area, and you wait at the bottom of the stairs to be shown to tables upstairs in the restaurant area. There was a table free (we hadn’t booked) and so we were taken upstairs and sat down to order. I had a pint of Flummoxed Farmer by Ainsty Ales, a good session pale ale, hoppy and bitter, but light.

Mrs MOFAD had Yorkshire Cider from The Great Yorkshire Brewery, a pretty standard cider.

My choice was a fairly easy one – the pulled pork burger which was simple and tasty, with some good chips, and a little bit of slaw on the side. And on a plate, although it was made of wood like some medieval trencher.

Mrs MOFAD had the standard burger, which was less good.

We had more places to explore so asked for the bill. And then asked for it again, since someone else’s drinks had been added to it.

A pleasant enough meal in characterful surroundings, but with so many great places to choose from, you don’t have to settle for pleasant enough.

The Sherwin Arms, Bramcote, March 2017

It’s another trip to the pub with no beer. We came here twice in January and enjoyed some good chat with friends and some pleasant pub grub, but no beer, as Greene King “IPA” doesn’t count.

The same story tonight. Good chat with friends old and new, and pleasant pub grub. My “fusion” food was this chicken burger, which lacked the advertised bacon, cheese and BBQ sauce, but was perfectly pleasant. The fusion part came from the poppadom, which I was given by Mrs MOFAD, who had two of them with her chicken tikka (pleasant pub curry).

No drink review again, maybe one day they will have some actual beer or cider available here, but today was not that day. A pleasant pub to catch up with friends. As usual on a Thursday there was a pub quiz on, although the member of staff in charge was obviously not used to being in charge of a pub quiz, and was rather struggling. We couldn’t stay (work in the morning), so waved our goodbyes and left.

The Lansdowne, Leicester, March 2017

It’s a familiar thing, a pre-show dining post. Another Leicester night out, and a break from tradition, as tonight’s turn is a musical one, as opposed to the usual comedy that we go to at De Montfort Hall. We’ll come back to that in a moment.

My journey was a bit of an eventful one, with various public transport delays conspiring against me. So I arrived later than expected, but luckily Mrs MOFAD was on time, and had ordered me pint of Goose Island IPA. Nice to have this on draught for the first time, it’s something you’ve probably seen in bottles in Tesco or similar. Delicious hoppy bitterness.

Sometimes I fear change. Tonight was one of those times, so I had exactly the same meal as last time, the tasty chicken burger.

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Just as good as last time, juicy chicken, simple salad, and good pub chips (a mix of potatoes and sweet potatoes).

The Landsdowne is definitely our new “go to” pub for pre-show dining.

We headed off after this, up the road to go and see Elbow, who were absolutely brilliant. A great decision by them to return to smaller venues after so many big stadium tours, and they really work in a smaller venue like De Montfort Hall. A great night of music.