The Brotherswater Inn, Sykeside, Cumbria, August 2017 #3

Veni, vidi, vici.

We returned triumphant, another 4 Wainwrights conquerered, which takes our overall total to 80. We had a lovely walk, taking in The Knott, High Street, Thornthwaite Crag and Gray Crag. We got back a little bit later than planned, partly due to battling 50mph winds on our descent from Gray Crag. Another pleasant evening outside, so there were still a few tables available inside. We picked the window seat at the other end from last night, and perused the menu once more. Another pint of Tirril Eden Valley for me, and more cider for Mrs MOFAD.

Continuing the theme of last night, Mrs MOFAD had what I had 24 hours ago, venison casserole, topped with sauteed kale and accompanied by sweet potato fries. Triple pork nirvana was at stake, so I had the gammon steak, topped with pineapple and grilled tomato.

It was lovely, and a perfect plate of protein after today’s long walk. A nice touch was the snipping of the fat to prevent the steak from curling up, which is something that you don’t see very often. The salad was a bit of a token effort, but the meaty star attraction more than made up for that.

No time to linger tonight, we retired to the Barn End Bar next door for quiz night.

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Church Inn, Chelmorton, April 2017

We’ve enjoyed a lovely lazy Saturday with Kerrie, Andy, Hazel, Matt, Janette and Steve. We’ve already taken in Beer District and the Buxton Brewery Tap, as well as chilling out in the sunshine and a stroll along the Monsal Trail. We had no particular evening plans, but as we strolled back along the Monsal Trail a plan to go to the pub formed, and we phoned the Church Inn to book a table. They were reluctant to reserve a table for 8 at first, but we managed to convince them that it was a perfectly rational thing to do.

We drove over and settled in by the roaring fire (it’s April so it’s still cold!) We perused menus and the bar and ordered up some food and drink.

A Thornbridge Wild Swan for me, which I last had at the 2014 Thornbridge beer festival (the one before it got too big for its location). A good summer time light ale with enough flavour to keep you interested.

Mrs MOFAD had a Westons’ Rosie’s Pig, a nice light cider.

My dinner was something that I never usually have when out and about, fish pie. I love fish pie and make it at home a lot, but rarely have it in pubs or restaurants because they can get it so wrong.

This one was a good fish pie, good sauce, nice chunks of fish and a good cheese and crumble topping with some standard veg. A hearty pub meal in a lovely village pub.

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 Field Head Hotel, Markfield, Leicestershire, April 2017

A story of two halves. Before label and after label.

Before label.

A lovely sunny spring evening. We’d been out walking just over the other side of the M1, a little circuit taking in views from some higher points of Leicestershire. We crossed over the M1 for dinner at the Field Head, somewhere we’ve been before, although not for a while.

A quick browse of the menu and up to the bar to order. For me, a pint of Britannia from Evan-Evans brewery:-

I was a bit suspicious of this at first. Greene King pubs often sneak in a house ale with a faked “craft” name, but this is a real beer from a real brewery in Llandeilo, West Wales. A decent session bitter. Mrs MOFAD opted for some Aspalls (nice posh glass)

After a bit of chat, dinner soon arrived. For me, a simple chicken and chips, with coleslaw, corn on the cob, fries and a chilli salsa thingy:-

It was very nice, simple flavours but all of them work together nicely. Juicy chicken, crisp fries and a nice piquancy from the chilli salsa thingy.

Mrs MOFAD’s choice of sea bass and scallop risotto looked like a good one too:-

A very tasty dish, nice fish and creamy risotto. But then.

After label.

There was a label in it. Initially it looked like a piece of fish skin, but on closer inspection, it was a label from some kind of kitchen implement. That’s enough to put anyone off their dinner, and it did this for Mrs MOFAD.

The bar staff were very apologetic about this when Mrs MOFAD returned to the bar with the plate, and they offered a refund for the dish when asked. A mistake in the kitchen, and a shame, because it rather spoilt what had been a nice meal up to that point.

We might be back. These kind of incidents do put you off though, even if they are handled well.

The Lansdowne (Orange Tree), Leicester, February 2017

Another night of comedy, and another food venue. We’ve been here before, but not for a few years, so there is no MOFAD visit recorded.

You may recall that when attending events around this part of Leicester, we usually go to the The Marquis Wellington, which is just a few doors up the A6. After our last visit, we vowed never to return. If you don’t have time to click on that link, the food was going downhill and we had to give up waiting for 2 out of the 4 meals that we had ordered on that visit.

A new venue was requited. Our plans were actually to go somewhere else after the show we were going to had finished. Those plans changed earlier this afternoon when the venue sent an e-mail to explain that there had been a change of timings. This meant we needed to eat before the show, so a new plan was hatched. We needed somewhere with good food and good service, as we needed to be in and out fairly swiftly.

The Lansdowne (owned by small local chain the Orange Tree group) fitted that description. It is handily located close to the station, and not far from handy parking places (although some of those have now been removed).

A quick check at the bar and there’s no long wait for food, so we had very quickly got ourselves, sorted, ordered and sat down.

A pint of Air Mail for me, from Très Bien Brewery, a tiny little brewery in Tur Langton, which is in the south eastern corner of Leicestershire. I used to follow them on Twitter, but they were always tweeting about TV shows, and nothing about their beer, so I stopped! Anyway, Air Mail is a bitter and hoppy pale ale, a very nice pint. Mrs MOFAD had some Aspalls, which is available on draught.

It didn’t take long for our food to  arrive. We both ordered the breaded chicken burger, served in a brioche bun, topped with chilli slaw, hand cut, twice fried chips (both normal and sweet potato), a small side salad and your choice of dips (we both chose BBQ).

A very nice chicken burger indeed. Juicy chicken, simple salad and really good pub chips. Exactly what we needed tonight, tasty and quick. The perfect place for pre-show dining.

Just a few minutes after we had finished we were up and on our way, down the road to the O2 Academy 2, which in old money is Queens Hall inside the University of Leicester Student Union building. Tonight was the first of three nights of James Acaster performing each of his last three tour shows. Tonight’s show was “Recognise”.

There won’t be a review of the venue, given that there wasn’t anything decent to drink!

The Mortal Man, Troutbeck, January 2017

The Mortal Man is another MOFAD favourite. As I mentioned back in 2014 (twice) and 2016, we always do a walk which incorporates it, usually over from Ambleside via Wansfell. Today was a lovely crisp winter’s day, with a tiny bit of snow and a lot of ice on the ground (necessitating the use of the Kahtoola microspikes), and the pub was warm and inviting as ever.

The usual pint of Loughrigg by Hesket Newmarket awaited (I seem to have it every time we come here). The cider festival was on as usual so Mrs MOFAD treated herself to a few halves. The first was a Monkey Mango by Cockeyed Cider…

With so many visits, we can now compare the changing of the club sandwich. It’s fair to say that it was at its peak in 2014 and has deteriorated a bit since. The flavours are still good, but the removal of the plate and the lack of toasting change it from being a proper club sandwich.

Let’s see 2017 in close up:-

It was a tasty sandwich, featuring the right number of layers at last, but a club sandwich should be toasted. Mrs MOFAD also had a good sandwich which was enjoyed with Side-r Elderflower cider by Glebe Farm, intense floral notes but a little acidic.

My bonus beer today (no driving at the end of this walk) was a familiar name, Sally Birkett’s Ale. Until early 2016, it was brewed just down the road by Hawkshead Brewery, exclusively for The Mortal Man. The beer takes its name from the poem on the sign outside the pub (which is also where the pub’s name comes from):-

“O mortal man that lives by bread
what is it makes they nose so red?
Thou silly fool, that look’st so pale,
‘Tis drinking Sally Birketts ale.”

The beer is now brewed in Carnforth, by Old School Brewery, and is still exclusive to The Mortal Man. A good session ale.

A MOFAD card was left on a previous visit, and it is still here :-

A lovely visit to The Mortal Man as ever, and suitably refreshed we began our return journey to Ambleside…

Thornbridge night at The Needle & Pin, December 2016

On the first day of December,
My local pub gave to me,
A great event with Thornbridge brewery…

We are just shy of the first birthday of The Needle & Pin. It has been a great first year, and this event seems like an appropriate way to celebrate that first year. Thornbridge are one of our greatest breweries, and one of the best in the world. The word craft has perhaps become tarnished in recent years, but they are it and have been doing it since they began in 2005.

I can still remember my first pint of Jaipur IPA just yards from this establishment. It was an instant hit with us drinkers and for Thornbridge. And they have gone from strength to strength ever since. I wrote about The Great Peak Weekender back in 2015 (we attended in 2014 too).

To have such a brewery (who have their own pubs and also do regular tap takeovers around the country)hosting an event at our local micro pub is a great achievement for Sean and the patrons of the N&P.

Tonight sold out long ago and we were looking forward to the main event, a deconstruction of Serpent, a collaboration brew with Brooklyn Brewery. Along the way there would be a few little surprises, including many new (to me at least) Thornbridge brews. My drinking companion for tonight was MOFAD regular Alec, and we arrived at the bar within a few minutes of each other.

First up, a half of Sequoia, an amber  ale with lovely hoppy notes:-

Next we went for a half of McConnel’s, a smooth stout with vanilla notes and some smoke:-

Proceedings then continued upstairs, when Sean introduced the assembled drinkers to Meghan from Thornbridge (who we’d already been chatting to at the bar) who would guide us through the Thornbridge maze tonight. Our first bottle was Lukas, a Helles style lager, and Meg told us the tale of the work that gone in to making it possible to brew and store this (it’s a lot more complicated than it might appear). Lukas is super pale, a summertime lager.

On now to the main event, Serpent:deconstructed. Serpent is a Belgian style golden ale, brewed with cider lees (the leftover bits from fermenting cider, yeasts, skins and whatever’s left), and then aged in Four Roses bourbon barrels. For two years. It’s a project that they were really committed to. And it certainly needed commitment.

To deconstruct it, first we had a half of Oliver’s traditional cider (the supplier of the lees). I do like a cider, but this was really sour and tannic. A thumbs down from me.

What followed was much better, a half of the Classic Perry, a proper perry that was really nice, full of delicious pear sweetness.

The deconstruction finished with a shot of bourbon, to demonstrate the flavours that come from bourbon barrels. You probably already know my feelings on bourbon, I’m very much a Scotch man.

On then to the real thing, the Serpent. It’s a cider, not a beer. The lees have really dominated this brew, and that’s by no means a bad thing. Good complexity here, almost wine-like. I think this will go well with the Xmas turkey, so I might do that. You can certainly taste some of the flavours from the cider, and some of the sweetness of the perry. Not much of the bourbon coming through, but it’s a very nice “ale that’s not like most ales.”

It wouldn’t be a Thornbridge night without an IPA, so we finished with Huck, their new Double IPA full of sweet pine flavours. Lovely stuff.

As ever, there was time for a little shopping (picking up previously reserved beers). Looking forward to these, particularly the ice cream beers (the ones with the little legs) and the next Cloudwater instalment, v9.

A great night at the N&P, thanks to Meg for the Thornbridge tales and Sean for the passion to make it happen. Looking forward to doing it all again next year!