Centro Lounge, Loughborough, September 2017

Tonight is the beginning of our weekend. Regular MOFAD companions Hazel & Matt are staying with us tonight, as tomorrow morning we’re off on a road trip to Skipton. Mrs MOFAD and Hazel are off to Yarndale 2017 on Saturday, whilst Matt & I are indulging in a cultural walking tour of Skipton, perhaps checking out the odd hostelry on the way. Other regular companions Steve & Janette will be meeting us there tomorrow night.

Mrs MOFAD and I have been to the Centro lounge a few times this year, so we chose it for tonight’s dining venue.

Drinks first, and both Matt and I opted for the Bath Ales Dark Side, which is a nice easy drinking stout when it warms up a bit.

One of the advantages of Centro Lounge is that they serve their tapas menu every day, so if you fancy a mix of different things you can find plenty to choose from, rather than just plump for burger and chips or similar.

As I’ve noted before, they aren’t too tied down by the heritage of tapas, mixing traditional Spanish dishes like chicken and chorizo, albondigas (meatballs) and patatas bravas (roast spuds and tomato sauce) with dishes from another continent, such as teryaki chicken and posh KFC style chicken goujons.

Mrs MOFAD and I shared the selection above, along with the usual freshly cooked ciabatta, and Hazel & Matt also shared some dishes. We all enjoyed our tasty dinner, and spent a lot of time examining the decor, including the painting of a weird alien/monk hybrid with a boxing glove/oven glove, and some white horses frolicking in the sea… Do check out the eclectic collection of paintings if you’re visiting.

Tasty food, a reasonable pint and a friendly atmosphere, we all enjoyed ourselves and we’ll keep coming back.

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Rowena/Wyevale Garden Centre, Rothley, July 2017

A garden centre? Whatever next? Some years ago we spent a lot of time in these, finding things for our various garden projects. That has dwindled a lot recently, which culminated in a project to get the garden completely revamped last month. We left that to the experts, and just have a few little bits and pieces to sort out. Which is why we find ourselves here on a rainy/sunny Saturday afternoon. Before filling up trolleys with pots, plants and slate chippings, we stopped off for lunch in the little cafe. It’s not so little any more, with an outside seating area, a conservatory bit, and the main dining area all linked together. The usual selection of sandwiches, toasties and some other hot dishes on offer.

I had a chicken, bacon, cheese and chutney toastie, which was nicely filled, with all of the different elements combining to make something a bit more interesting than the usual ham and cheese affair. A few tiny bits of salad on the side. An old fashioned English toastie this, a sandwich stuck under a grill, from the days before the Breville toasted sandwich maker (other toasted sandwich makers are available). Not exactly haute cuisine, but a quick and easy lunch stop.

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.

Cafe Le Raj, Chipping Norton, July 2017

Much like yesterday, this is another placeholder, because we’ve been here before and need documented evidence of our visit! We were slightly (a lot) more sober than when we had a curry from here last year, after the bit of a let down which was the Hook Norton beer festival. So this year we organised our own. There are two other posts about that.

Tonight, we ordered our curry before we started drinking, phoning our order in and then popping out to collect it. They do offer free delivery within a 3 mile radius (we were within 1.5 miles) but it was going to take an extra 40 minutes, so we decided to collect.

Everyone enjoyed their curries. My dhansak was nicely spicy and sour, and even Hazel’s korma had a little warmth to it. Mrs MOFAD enjoyed her chicken tikka rogan josh and we shared rice and a naan (I would have liked a little more of both).

So, future selves, this is the curry house to come to when camping in Chipping Norton.

The Pear Tree, Hook Norton, July 2017

Where do you go when you’ve just been shopping at the Hook Norton brewery? To the 18th century pub just down the road. It’s not quite the brewery tap (there’s a bar inside the brewery shop which serves as that), but as it’s so close, it’s as good as one. Presumably named after the pear tree which grows up the front of it, this is a pub that we’ve been to before, for lunch and a walk a few years ago now.

It was nice to be back, and we had a leisurely chat over some hot drinks and beers, whilst waiting for Paul (and eager young pup Snitch) who we had last seen in the field just up the road from this very spot this time last year, whilst at the Hooky beer festival. We ordered some lunch too. This was accompanied by a pint of Hook Norton Katy Lou which was released as we were sitting here, a special for the beer festival.

I had a bacon and brie panino, which was very nice, with a decent bit of salad on the side. Everyone in our party had a lovely lunch.

A great little village pub, good food and drinks and a friendly atmosphere.

We close this review with something unusual.

A toilet.

A urinal to be precise. With something rather different about it. If you don’t visit many urinals, then rest assured that they don’t usually look like this.

It’s the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this. It’s obviously designed to help you focus your aim in the right place. Odd.

Sara’s Indian, Coniston, June 2017

As you will know if you’ve ever read any post tagged #curry, Friday night is curry night. When we’re on holiday, that usually means finding the nearest Indian restaurant. Whenever we’ve stayed in Coniston previously, that has proved to be a problem, because there wasn’t one. The first time we stayed, it would probably have meant an hour’s round trip to Tagore in Ambleside (since closed). In fact, if we’d been stuck behind some of the tourists that have plagued our journeys this week, it could have been closer to two hours!

Thankfully, things have changed with the opening of Sara’s Indian in 2015. An Indian restaurant and takeway, which doesn’t have an alcohol licence so you can take your own alcohol (there’s a brewery literally across the road if you’re stuck for ideas). Menus are available outside all day long, so you can pick one up and take it back to your holiday cottage for later use. We did that last weekend, and tonight we were perusing and ordering our dinner.

A really interesting selection of dishes to choose from, a lot more variety than just some tikka masalas, bhunas and kormas. Plenty of things that I’ve never seen before (and we’ve been to our fair share of curry houses).

For me it was chicken podina piaza with mint, ginger, onions and mango chutney all mixed in. This was delicious, nice warmth and good flavours coming through from the mint. I like mint in a curry.

Mrs MOFAD had her usual chicken tikka rogan josh, and we both had a very tasty coriander naan.

If you are looking for somewhere that serves food in Coniston after 9 (since most of the pubs stop then), or you are just looking for a good curry, this will do nicely. At last a curry house in Coniston!

The Apple Pie, Ambleside, June 2017

An Ambleside institution.

We have been visiting the Apple Pie on and off ever since we’ve been visiting Ambleside. If there’s ever a day when we’re not out on the fells (usually due to inclement weather), you’ll find us having lunch at The Apple Pie. Named after their famous apple pie, they also do sandwiches, pies, quiches, salads and other items, as well as various hot drinks and soft drinks, and a few local beers.

There are many great places to eat in Ambleside, but this is usually the only place where you see people queuing out of the door on a weekday lunchtime. That was the case today, with a 5-10 minute wait for tables, but everyone in the queue happy to wait for their table. Once seated, service was quick and food arrived swiftly.

Inside the pie things have changed around a lot over the years. The front entrance and counter are still pretty much unchanged (you can still get your takeaway and bakery items from the main counter). There are no tables in the front area any more, and no more seating upstairs. Things have changed out the back too, with tables moving around and new seating areas created, as well as kitchen areas where toilets used to be and various other changes. They are not ones for standing still. You can also stay at the Pie if you want to.

Like the premises, the filled roll (sandwich) line up has changed over the years. The Thai chicken used to be one of our favouries, today that is replaced by the “spicy chicken” which has mayo, mango chutney, cream and various spices to make a nice sandwich filling, along with a good filling of salad (including beetroot which so many places shy away from).

As we’ve walked plenty of miles this week, we treated ourselves to the famous apple pie (although the mixed spice and sultana version had sold out) with ice cream.

Delicious, and a lovely Friday lunchtime treat. The ice cream to remind us it is summer (we’ve had some scorching days this week) and the warm pie to combat the cool drizzle of today.

The Apple Pie is a must visit if you are in Ambleside.