Pub of the month, January 2017 – The Mortal Man, Troutbeck

January 2017 has been a tale of two parts. The first part (the first three days of January) contains all of the pubs in the running for pub of the month. The second part (the rest of the month) had three more pub visits, but to very disappointing chain pubs, including one that had no beer (Carling does not count as beer).

Off we go with our first contender. The King’s Head Hotel in Thirlmere is somewhere that we have been once before. However, the last time we came here (16th June 2010), all we did was park in the car park, before ascending Helvellyn. Yes, we have a list of Wainwrights that we have conquered and when, which is why I can quote that date.

Our visit was inspired by tropical storm Desmond, which had wreaked havoc in this area just over 12 months ago. We had a walk to take in some of the newly repaired and redirected paths in the area, and ending up at The King’s Head for lunch.

The King’s Head is one of those handy places that doesn’t down tools at 2pm, so when you arrive after that time you will be pleased to know that you can still order some lunch and a pint, such as this former Lakeland classic (now part of the Marston’s empire), Cocker Hoop by Jennings Brewery, a classic bitter golden ale.

Somewhere between our order being taken and heading off to the kitchen, my ham and cheese panino turned into bacon and brie, which is essentially just ham and cheese by another name. It was very nice, but not what I ordered. At this time, I was too tired to debate the matter, so tucked in. Nice side salad and always good to see some classic pickle on the plate too.

A nice lunch at this classic Lakeland inn.

We wind back the clock two days, and find ourselves in Wainwrights’ Inn, in Chapel Stile, part of the Langdale Estate. Again, we’ve been to the Langdale Estate before, way back in 1999 this time. Today, a largely familiar walk led us here for lunch.

Wainwrights’ Inn have subscribed to the tasting bat/paddle methodology, which allows you to enjoy 3 x 1/3 pint glasses of different beer. We managed to confuse them by requesting Tirril Pennine Pilsner as one of the three beers, but they eventually worked out that it was a proper beer so could be included. A light and refreshing pilsner, and it was joined by Derwent Brewery’s Cote Light (easy drinking light ale) and Penning Brewing’s Jingle Bell Rock (pleasant session bitter with standard festive pun name).

Lunch arrived on boards (boo – we want plates!) but was utterly delicious. A warm chicken, bacon & melted cheese baguette, served with a salad garnish and barbecue sauce. We also ordered some chips to share.

A great start to a New Year of eating and drinking. Three new beers to kick off #tryanuary, and a new pub too. Dog friendly and walker friendly, Wainwrights’ Inn is a jewel in Chapel Stile, and hightly recommended if you are in the area. I assume that the position of the possessive apostrophe means that the Inn is for all of the 214 Wainwrights rather than just Alfred…

We come on to our winner, somewhere which has featured here a few times already. The Mortal Man is definitely a MOFAD favourite, and we usually walk over from Ambleside via Wansfell to have lunch here.

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

A lovely visit to The Mortal Man as ever, and a worthy winner of pub of the month.

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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…

Crewe & Harpur, Swarkestone

A spot of cycling today, along the Cloud Trail.

Starting near Derby city centre, the Cloud Trail follows a nice path alongside the River Derwent before turning south on the Derby Canal Path to the Trent and Mersey Canal at Swarkestone. The main part of the Cloud Trail then begins, a dismantled railway path which will take you to the village of Worthington and Cloud Quarry.

Along the way you will cross the Grade II listed Trent Viaduct near Melbourne (not that one). Flat, well-surfaced and mostly traffic-free, this route is excellent for families and novice cyclists. This ride forms part of National Route 6 which runs all the way from London to the Lake District.

We started our ride at Worthington, where there is a small car park at the start of the Cloud Trail. It’s a fairly flat route all the way through to Swarkestone, with just a few ups and downs as you cross the A42 and then plop on to the A5132 to get to the pub for lunch.

We’ve been to the Crewe & Harpur before, doing a similar bike ride. Last time, there was nowhere to park the bikes, so they ended up chained to a lamp post on the “beer patio” at the back (there’s a proper beer garden at the other side). This time I’m happy to report that they have now put in a proper cycle rack (toast rack style) so that you can lock your bikes up whilst you go for something to eat and/or drink. This is a very sensible decision, given their proximity to a National Cycle Route trail, and with plenty of road cyclists to be seen in the area too.

On to drink. This may shock you. It’s a pint of lime and soda. But I’d rather have that than any average beer. The Crewe is a Marston’s pub, no surprise round these parts. And that usually means various beers from the Marston’s empire, which are usually fairly reliable. But today, the 4 pumps were a sad sight, with just Pedigree and Hobgoblin on, and the other 2 sadly empty. I’ll pass thanks.

On to lunch. Loads of options to choose from, and happily this is not a pub that puts the shutters down at 2pm sharp, serving food all day, with various different menus to choose from. We chose from the light bites and sandwiches menu, perfect for lunches. You’ll probably know by now that I do like a classic club sandwich, and this was very much that. Three good slices of toasted white farmhouse bloomer, with tasty bacon and chicken, lettuce, very flavoursome tomatoes and mayo. Good thin fries too (skin on). Some of the other sandwiches and focaccias also look good.

Mrs MOFAD opted for the “tiger tops”, which are fries mixed with sweet potato fries, salad, and then topped with various things, such as the classic nacho topping mix of salsa, guacamole, sour cream, cheese and jalapenos. You can also choose pulled pork and beef chilli, piri piri chicken and sour cream or buttermilk chicken with cheese and sriracha mayo (very on trend!)

Mrs MOFAD opted for chicken tikka with a yoghurt and mint dressing, and this was very nice (when the yoghurt and mint dressing finally arrived at the table). A pleasant and fragrant level of spice and a nice selection of leaves (no tired and limp iceberg here).

The biggest bonus? Food served on plates! Although Mrs MOFAD’s was served on some kind of 1940s enamel bowl, there was not a slate or a chopping board in sight!

The Crewe & Harpur is a cracking pub, well worth the short detour from the Cloud Trail to get to if you’re out cycling this way. Good food and friendly staff. Hopefully they’ll have some other beers on when you visit (just as we were leaving, Banks’s Lion’s Roar was being pulled through).

Recommended!

Kilderkin, Edinburgh, June 2016

Just another average sunny Saturday in Edinburgh.

It starts out with a trip up Arthur’s Seat, formed by an extinct volcano system around 350 million years ago, and eroded by a glacier moving from west to east around two million years ago, exposing rocky crags to the west and leaving a tail of material to the east. It’s a very impressive sight, and dominates the skyline.

Being so close to the city centre, it’s a popular place, particularly on a sunny Saturday. It’s also very accessible from most directions, which leads to plenty of crowds up top. My last ascent was in 1995, so it was good to be back on this lovely day.

So far, so normal. We ambled down the other side, which brings you out near Holyrood Palace and the new Scottish parliament building. There was quite a crowd, and a lot of cameras around. And who’s this man?

None other than Danny Boyle, who just happens to be filming Trainspotting 2 right here, right now. We also spotted Ewan McGregor and Jonny Lee Miller, who were appearing in the scene. Just another average Edinburgh day.

After all that excitement, time for another late lunch. Today’s destination was Kilderkin, a pub that I’ve been to before, on a previous visit in 2014. Back then it was an evening visit for some awesome pizzas and a couple of drinks. It doesn’t appear to have changed very much. This is a good thing. I do like this pub.

The kilderkin (from the Dutch for “small cask”) is a brewery cask unit, equal to half a barrel or two firkins.

The ale kilderkin was 16 ale gallons, redefined in 1688 to 17 ale gallons and again in 1803 as 18 ale gallons. It stayed this way until the adoption of the imperial system, and then it was defined to be 18 imperial gallons.

Enough talk about beer measures, let’s talk about beer. Today’s lunchtime pint was a Jack Back from local brewery Stewart Brewing. It is described as a hoppy and pale session ale, and it is just that, a perfect pale session ale with good hoppiness and good bitterness. Take note everyone, this is what a pale ale looks like, and tastes like!

Next up, food. Once again a sensible pub that doesn’t stop serving food at 2pm, so when we pitched up after this time, no problem in ordering some food. We both opted for the smoked turkey, smoked cheese and bacon sandwich, served with chips and salad.

A very tasty sandwich indeed. Although the turkey had that processed/packaged feel about it, it was very tasty, as was the bacon and cheese. Good tomatoes inside, and a decent salad too. The chips were good too, and overall it was a nice lunch. And plates too!

One final note. Nothing says Scotland like finding this vending machine…

You stay classy Edinburgh!

The Mitre, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, June 2016

A return visit to The Mitre. I was here in April, just having a pint on a night out.

In 1615, the site of this pub was occupied by a fine tenement that was owned by John Spottiswood, then Bishop of St Andrews. The tenement burned down in 1814 and was replaced by The Mitre – a nod to the bishop’s headgear. Legend has it that the bishop’s throne is buried under what is now the bar area. Some say his spirit still walks the pub. I say no.

Today it was our stop for lunch after a morning and bit of early afternoon exploring the Royal Mile. We opted for a late lunch as we had spent a lot of time exploring, so it’s good to find another pub that doesn’t just down tools at 2pm, and carries on serving sandwiches after this arbitrary cut off point.

A good range of ales on again today, so I opted for Citrus Maximus from Dorset Brewing Company. Sharp bitterness, with hints of sherbet lemons.

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My lunch was a club sandwich, although the middle layer of bread was missing, so it’s technically not a club sandwich. It was very nice though, and good chips.

A cheese and chutney sandwich for Mrs MOFAD, with sweet potato fries, also both very tasty.

Another good trip to The Mitre – it’s a cracking pub on the Royal Mile, and certainly better than The Inn on the Mile just across the road. Well worth a visit !

 

The Coffee Club, Taupo

A return visit to Taupo. Our fluid plans changed a few times during the course of our trip, and we stopped off back in Taupo today, on our way back from Hastings to Lake Rerewhakaaitu.

We parked up along the lake front (lots of large parking spaces for motorhomes) and had a little wander around before popping in to The Coffee Club for lunch. There are 57 of them throughout New Zealand, so this is very much a chain establishment. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

My lunch was an obvious choice for me, the chicken and bacon club sandwich, with egg, lettuce, tomato, mayo and BBQ sauce, with some tasty chips on the side.

Mrs MOFAD had ham, cheese and pineapple on ciabatta, which was also a tasty sandwich.

The Coffee Club is certainly a handy lunch stop if you find yourself down by the lake in Taupo. A few doors down there is another, much more famous chain, in the form of McDonald’s (you can’t escape them). This one does have one redeeming feature though, a Douglas DC3 aeroplane, which was bought by the mayor in 1985. He was going to use it as an office, but Maccy D’s asked if they could have it instead. It now tops the list of the coolest McDonald’s in the world, if that’s your kind of thing.

Anyway, The Coffee Club is worth a visit.

Ye Olde Naked Man Cafe, Settle

This will get some interesting page hits. If there’s one thing guaranteed to drive traffic to your web site/blog it’s anything related to words like naked/nudity etc. Oops, there’s another keyword. I’ll stop now. Back to the naked man in Settle.

Ye Olde Naked Man Cafe is a cafe and deli in a prime position opposite the market place in Settle. It has a lot of competition from all of the great local pubs such as the Talbot Arms, The Lion and the Royal Oak but it can stand up to them.

On our final full day in the area, we had abandoned a plan to walk around Malham Tarn due to potential inclement weather. However, we were apparently one of the few places in the entire country not to be on the receiving end of a rather large deluge.

So instead we had a wander around Settle, and eventually found ourselves here for lunch on a very busy Bank Holiday Monday. It was totally packed out, so we wandered around for a bit longer and then came back shortly afterwards and waited for a table.

We were greeted by a fairly extensive cafe menu and plenty of daily specials such as sweet potato & red pepper soup, leek & potato soup, jacket potato with beef chilli, chicken & ham pie or tomato & spring onion quiche.

My choice was a common one for me – the club sandwich. Although this one was quite a bit different. Half of a large sub roll, cut into three pieces, with chicken and salad and mayo in one part, and bacon and sliced boiled egg in the other part. Sliced boiled egg is a new one on me when it comes to club sandwiches (although it is quite common), but it definitely works.

It was a very tasty sandwich, and this particular Naked Man is definitely worth a visit. I can’t point you to their web site as they haven’t paid the renewal on their domain 😦