Handmade Burger Company, Leicester, November 2017

I can haz cheezburger? Yes I can, and it’s not even my birthday. In fact it’s regular MOFAD supplier (and sister-in-law) Jo’s birthday, and this was her choice. Who am I to argue with such a wise choice?

When I arrived, Mrs MOFAD and Jo were already sitting in a booth at the back. My journey took a while as it involved walking to the bus stop, bus to station, train to Leicester and then walking from the station to Highcross.

Mrs MOFAD had already predicted my beer and burger order and got it spot on. Which goes to show that I can be quite predictable, but when pulled pork is in play, it’s always going to happen. The beer part didn’t happen though, as just like last week, the beer that I wanted was out of stock. It also confused the waitress, who seemed to be new and not particularly aware of what beer was, let alone what was on the menu. No matter, just soft drinks tonight. When you know there’s a can of Chubbles in the fridge at home, why drink bad beer when you’re out?

Another decent burger at HBC. They’ve made loads of changes to the menu since the last time we were here, but they are still knocking out decent burgers. When they sort out their beer stocks, then the great beer and burger combination will be found right here.

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The Diner, Camden, November 2017

There are a lot of places to eat in Camden Town. Between this and the hotel I was staying in (just a couple of hundred yards away) there are 5 or 6 to choose from. Between this and the Underground, there must be around 30 or 40. The establishment that I left to come to this one (Brewdog) also does food.

Someone else was deciding tonight, a project team outing with the day job (this hobby blog has not been sufficiently monetised to make not having a day job an option). We settled on “The Diner”, a small chain that has a few London branches. It’s another of those Tex Mex style places that has proliferated our cities in recent years. The usual selection on the menu, dirty burgers, chilli dogs, nachos, burritos and the like.

I opted for a southern style chicken burger and some spiced fries, both of which hit the spot nicely.

There was a nice looking American IPA on the bottled beer menu, but that had sold out (this seems to happen a lot at the minute, where the most intresting beers are those with the lowest stock levels).

So I settled for this Pacifico Clara, the Corona that you’ve probably not heard of. Like its more common namesake, it comes with a lime in the top, even if you didn’t ask for it to be wedged in there. Hopless and largely flavourless, it’s not much more than some coloured water. Now you see the point of the lime – to add actual flavour.

It was a decent dinner, but nothing special, and with so much choice nearby, I wouldn’t choose this above anything else.

The King’s Arms, Hathern, November 2017

A second visit to The King’s Arms in the MOFAD era, although somewhere that we’ve been to a few times, usually for get togethers with walking friends. The same applied tonight, although we didn’t find out about tonight’s gathering until Saturday, as it had somehow slipped under our collective radar.

When you’ve got 30 odd people descending on a pub, you need a certain type of pub that can cope with such things. The posher chain pub wants everyone to be eating, the micropub doesn’t have quite enough room. So this is the level you settle for, a Marston’s chain pub, so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting. A range of different food options and several beers from the Marston’s empire, including Ringwood and Jennings and a few others that look like they are not from the empire, but they are. With a permanent 2-4-1 deal on food, you need to go with a friend if you don’t want to pay twice as much as everyone else.

Tonight’s beer choice was this month’s seasonal offering from Jennings, Pie in the Sky. It is alleged to be “a robust full bodied beer with pale ale malt and the finest roasted malts combined with whole cone English Fuggle hops to deliver a robust flavour”.

It was just so bland. Before they were owned by the evil empire, I liked Jennings. Hops? Malts? Where? I’m not looking for Cloudwater levels of hoppiness in every pint, but just a decent pint of cask ale would do. It was just so meh.

The food was standard chain pub fodder, I opted for the pulled pork burger, which matched the beer because it was also surprisingly bland. The pulled pork was naked, no sauce, no flavourings, just nude pork (that will get some odd hits for this blog post). It was all ok, but just that. And look at that cheese, it hasn’t even melted in the slightest.

Mrs MOFAD opted for the curry (she does like a pub curry), which was more interesting, although the naan bread was more like a tiny saddle cover for a bicycle seat. Her cider was more interesting, which is not something I thought I would ever say about Bulmer’s.

This does come across as a bit snobby, and it’s not meant to, but this was another of those nights when the company was more important than the food and drink. Again, there was nothing bad, it was just fairly non-descript.

Poppy and Pint, West Bridgford – November 2017

A return visit to this lovely community pub. We are back for the same event that brought us here last year, a mini film festival. After a quick bit of chat, it was off to the bar to order food and drink.

Drink first, a pint of “Sweet Chin Music” (a boxing reference) from Shiny Brewing, a small brew pub in Derby. A decent IPA with a tasty mix of Mosaic and Citra hops, which leads to a good balance of sweet and bitter.

Mrs MOFAD had Liefmans Kriek Brut, absolutely stuffed full of sour cherries.

Food next. Mrs MOFAD opted for the chicken burger which was very tasty:-

I went for a burrito, which I haven’t seen in a “normal” pub for a while, possibly even since the Swan was in its heyday. My burrito was very nice (odd choice of chips and salad to go with it though). We didn’t have long to linger, and were soon heading up the stairs for our film festival.

A decent effort, and another lovely trip to the P&P.

BrewDog Liverpool, September 2017

I can be a bit of a predictable creature. If you look at some of my recent city trips (Edinburgh, York, Newcastle and now Liverpool), you’ll spot a pattern. Whenever I arrive I go to BrewDog. I don’t *just* go to BrewDog, but it will usually be one of my first stops. Why? Well, it’s because I know what I’m going to get. I always want to check out local bars and brewery taps and the like that you don’t get in any other city, but I’m always happy to start off at BrewDog. As well as their always evolving line up, the range of guest beers is always interesting.

As a review printed on their new staff t-shirts says, “unless you’re into beers and trying new ones, this place isn’t for you”. I am into beers and trying new ones.

So here’s the first of those, Sidewalk Shark, part of the “Small Batch” project. It’s a light, effervescent German-style sour wheat beer; lemon peel, herbal lime leaf, notes of orange and a fresh bready malt base. Sharp, sweet and sour, with a tiny salty note – a lovely refreshing beer.

The other thing you will find in BrewDog bars is a food offering. In Liverpool, this is a burger and hot dog offering. I had the Patriot Burger, brioche bun, 6oz beef brisket patty, smoked bacon, cheddar, pickles, onion, baby gem & bbq sauce.

It was a decent juicy burger, good flavours and nicely put together. Unfortunately it was served on a silly tin tray with a silly tin cup of chips. We want plates.

To accompany this, another couple of beers. First, the Prototype Blonde Ale. I didn’t think BrewDog did bland, but this tasted of nothing. Nothing bad about it, just a very middle of the road blonde ale. I could go to most other pubs and bars in this city to find that, so I just don’t expect it here.

Thankfully, the last one was more interesting. Another of the Small Batch series, this time the Imperial Pilsner where a quintessential pilsner malt base and German lager yeast combine with some modern German aroma hops to make an interesting lager. You can feel the strength in this one.

As ever, a pleasant trip to BrewDog. Tonight was also the monthly bottle share club. Sadly I couldn’t stay as I had friends to meet elsewhere but I was sorely tempted.

Dog and Duck, Shardlow, July 2017

Another pub trip where the company was more important than the food and drink. Just as well really, as this was another classic poor chain pub effort. A Marstons pub, the usual below average selection of beers from the empire, a few bottles, and some rubbish “ciders” like Strongbow and Old Mout. So, another night on the lime and soda. No biggie, I have great beers at home for another night.

Maybe the food could make up for this disappointment. Although “two for one, all day every day” doesn’t always insipre confidence. Mrs MOFAD opted for curry again, she does enjoy a pub curry. Chicken tikka masala is an easy pub option, and pubs always chuck in the full works, rice, naan, popadom and alleged mango chutney (it’s never any good).

My choice was the BBQ chicken burger, which sounded nice.  Crispy buttermilk chicken goujons topped with Monterey Jack cheese and BBQ sauce, served with chips and coleslaw.

The best word you could find to describe this would be fodder. That’s all that it was. Very average damp pub chips (lots of seasoning required), a pointless little dish of alleged coleslaw (way too much onion), and an awful bread roll that had probably been hanging around all day, and. It disintegrated a little bit more every time you picked it up. Processed cheese added insult to injury, and a pitiful amount of alleged BBQ sauce didn’t help. No additional sauces available to help out either.

Chain pub eating at its lowest ebb. Meh food, no decent drinks. Luckily there were plenty of laughs to be had with friends.

Cosy Club, Leicester, July 2017

A rare weeknight shopping trip to Leicester. We are going to a wedding later in the year (a trip that shoud generate some interesting blog posts), and various items of clothing are required. Luckily, I’m not going to go on about that. Instead, I’ll tell you about dinner. As we have done on a few occasions recently, we found ourselves in the Cosy Club again (the same chain who run our local Centro Lounge).

Rather splendidly, they had a cask of Centennial Wheat Beer – Pattern #WB0002 from very local brewery Framework, who were the subject of last night’s craft beer hour (#craftbeerhour). So having spent an hour last night talking about their beers, tonight I had one. I’ve had one or two of them from the Needle & Pin, so nice to see them elsewhere in the wild. Centennial Wheat Beer – Pattern #WB0002 was a good mix of wheat, hops and malty sweetness.

On to dinner next, and it was burger time. The Brigadier burger with cheese, pulled pork and chorizo to be precise, and it was very tasty. The chips (probably technically fries) were soon removed from their silly metal cup, and deposited on the nice twee china plates that are favoured here. The slaw was also decent, not spoilt by being full of half a raw onion.

Another nice dinner at the Cosy Club, a good post-shopping place for dinner.