Toby Carvery, Loughborough

Formerly known as the Forest Gate. The first pub I ever visited in Loughborough, all the way back in October 1992. I stayed in The Holt in my first year, which is just across the road from this establishment. The Holt is much improved from my day. Back then it was still temporary wooden accommodation, erected in 1974, with paper thin walls and a distinct Prisoner Cell Block H feel to it. A character building start to University life.

At some point, it changed its name from the Forest Gate, to just the Toby Carvery, as did most of their properties. As with most chains, you’ll know what you’re getting and what’s on the menu from before the moment you walk in. Inside it hasn’t really changed in the last 24 years. And the same can be said for the outside. I’ve only ever once seen a dog on top of the roof. How it got up and down I’ll never know, but it was definitely up there. The dog was sighted in the afternoon, not after a long session drinking inside the establishment.

First things first. The service at the bar. It is so slow. There are always staff around, mostly working the restaurant area. But it always takes ages to get served at the bar. Bar customers are very much second class citizens. I’ve seen 4 or 5 people behind it and none of them pay any heed to bar customers.

So, when you eventually get served, there’s plenty of standard stuff to choose from. They are primarily a carvery, so roast meat in a baguette or bap is the main sandwich offering, alongside a few other sandwiches, full roasts, and other related items. The accompaniment to your roast beef baguette has varied over the years, and is currently some coleslaw, a large romaine lettuce leaf, half a tomato and a few slices of cucumber. Earlier in the year, the accompaniment was a large Yorkshire pudding and a couple of roast potatoes. There was a time when the meat was pretty bad but it’s now reasonable stuff and a good portion most of the time.

Finally, the ale. There’s usually Everards Tiger (local) and a couple of other beers, such as Brakspear bitter and Pedigree or London Pride. But it is almost always badly kept. There was a period when they had some interesting and well-kept guests, but on my few recent visits they have all been terrible. It’s a situation where the people you are with are more important than the pint.

So I’m afraid there’s no MOFAD approval here. It serves a purpose for a good value sandwich and a chat. Proximity is its friend, not much else is.

The Blacksmith’s Arms, Loughborough, July 2015

A bit of an unplanned night out, after a quick caching event in the local park. Afterwards, we needed somewhere to grab a bit of dinner with MOFAD regulars Karon & John. So it was another visit to The Blacksmith’s, where we first returned in February.

First up, a pint of Osprey, from local peeps Grainstore Brewery, a simple bitter to start things off.

We were nattering away and ordered some food, lots of pub classics to choose from again. It was fairly quiet, but that’s to be expected on a Tuesday night in a town where around 15,000 people have recently disappeared. Nice to have some peace and quiet and a bite to eat. As the food was about to arrive, it was time for another drink. I wanted a Theakston Peculier IPA but it was off, so dropped into the fridge for a bottle of Hogshead Bitter, also from Mr Theakston. A hint of nuttiness, a hint of malt, a hint of caramel.

Tonight, it was a simple choice, a double burger topped with pulled pork and onion rings, proper home made chips, roasted cherry tomatoes and some salad. It was very tasty, really nice flavours, the tomatoes were very nice too. As is often the case, the bap (cob round these parts) wasn’t quite up to the task, but that’s part of the fun when eating a burger. Probably the best burger in town right now.

MOFAD approved!

The Blacksmith’s Arms, Loughborough

Tonight, we took a trip to the newly restoredĀ Blacksmith’s Arms in Loughborough. Long term residents will remember that this was the name of this particular establishment during the 1990s, and was a popular place for students and residents alike. Good food and drink and a little bowling alley made for a cracking venue.

But then it changed hands and went by at least one other name. But in 2014, The Blacksmith’s came back. And what a cracking job they have done. Fusing some of its olden charm (lightly washed brick work) with modern furniture and a new bar, this pub has come back to life. And they have a nice simple menu too. Alongside a large selection of PieMinster pies, there are rotating specials including the pub classic of fish and chips.

Tonight, the Minister opted for a favourite of his, Boeuf Bourguignon, served with honey roast parsnips and potatoes, and some slices of baguette with butter.

IMG_2564

Very pleasant indeed, accompanied by a nice pint of Caledonian Golden XPA, a nice golden ale. We will be back.