Manchester Smokehouse and Cellar, Lloyd Street, November 2017

A rainy Manchester Sunday. We had been wandering about the Manchester Museum this morning, and were going to have lunch in the cafe. However, an impromptu fire alarm cut short our visit, and after standing around in the cold for 10 minutes or so we decided there was no chance of getting back in for more mooching around, so we wandered back up towards the town hall (where we had been wandering around the Christmas market yesterday afternoon).

The market wasn’t quite as heaving as it was yesterday, but it was still busy and many of the nearby venues were happy as a result (there was a 45 minute wait for a table at the Slug & Lettuce for example). Just a few steps down a side street, we settled on Manchester Smokehouse and Cellar, which sounds like the perfect combination of two of my favourite things – smoked meats and beer. According to their web site, they “stock award winning craft, draught, cask and world beers along with the best selection of ciders…”

A quick look around fails to turn up any of those cask beers. No hand pulls in sight. Plenty of keg lines though, so that should be ok.

Stella – no. Likewise Stella Cidre.

Bud Light – no.

BrewDog Punk IPA – why? There’s a BrewDog bar just a couple of hundred yards around the corner, where they’ve got all manner of BrewDog beers which are better than their first ever offering.

Boddingtons – no. They still advertise it as a Manchester beer, despite the fact no beer bearing this name has been brewed in the city since 2012, when the cask version stopped being produced at Hydes in Moss Side. The current “beer” is produced elsewhere in Lancashire.

On to the bottles then. Crafty Dan’s 13 Guns is a good choice, lots of soft hoppy flavours but I was in the mood for something else. Wells Banana Bread Beer used to be a favourite, but as with most things swallowed by Marston’s, I tend to avoid it now.

Brewdog Elvis Juice has a good grapefruit flavour and would be a reasonable choice.

Corona – nope. The same goes for Desperados and the two Crabbies. Duvel (aka devil) is not exactly a light lunchtime tipple, the same goes for Kwak and St Stefanus Blonde. All of these are supermarket beers nowadays.

Einstok White Ale is available in supermarkets now, Hop House 13 shouldn’t have the word hop near it, and Liefmans Fruitesse is an insult to fruit beers, far too sweet and with at least a 4 quid mark up to make it appear exotic.

This all sounds like I’m being a bit of a beer snob, but if you are calling yourself a “cellar” in this city full of great breweries, you should be stocking some of them. Cloudwater, Alphabet, Marble, Tickety Brew, Runaway, Beer Nouveau, ShinDigger, Burton Road, Beatnikz Republic, Four Kings, Blackjacj, Chorlton, First Chop, Manchester Brewing, Seven Bro7hers and on and on it goes.

No sign of any of them, just beers from some big names and one or two interesting things from further afield.

In the end I settled on Hogs Back Montezuma Chocolate Lager, something I’d had before. The chocolate notes go well with chilli flavours.

On to lunch then.

We fancied something quite light today, so opted to mix and match from the menu. We had nachos with pulled pork (nicely smoked), and all the usual accompaniments of jalapenos, guacamole, salsa, melted cheese and sour cream. We also ordered the pineapple slaw (lots of tasty pineapple pieces), and sweet potato fries (because 2017).

It was a nice light lunch for us, just a shame that the “cellar” part doesn’t work as well as the smokehouse part.

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The Coach and Horses, Kibworth, November 2017

A sunny Saturday stroll today, with regular walking friends and a couple more who we hadn’t seen for a while. We started in Glooston (yes, it’s a real place) and had parked next to the village hall and village pub. We walked almost 7 miles, and got back to our starting point at just after 2:30pm.

Sadly this was too late for the village pub, as they stop serving food at 2pm, one of my pet hates. Luckily we had already catered for this eventuality, and had found a sensible pub that doesn’t close their kitchen at 2pm. So along with Mrs MOFAD and regular walking and dining companions Karon and John, I took a short drive, taking in part of the route home, and we arrived in Kibworth and walked straight into this lovely welcoming pub, with a fire crackling away in the corner.

They’ve recently had a refurbishment, and they’ve done a nice job, keeping the character of the pub, but just making everything clean and fresh. We turned right into the small dining room, perused the menu and then popped up to the bar to order.

A late lunch for us today, so drinks and sandwiches were in order. A couple of decent cask ales on (Hobsons Best, a familiar face from near Ludlow, and Purity Mad Goose from Warwickshire).

Some nice sandwiches to choose from, Mrs MOFAD opted for the tuna melt on sourdough, and the rest of us chose the posh fish finger sandwich.

And a posh fish finger sandwich it was indeed. Lovely soft bloomer, delicious crispy beer battered fish goujons, tasty fat and crispy chips, and a little pot of lightly mushed peas, which make a good dip for your chips.

Lovely food, friendly staff and a nice atmosphere. A cracking little pub right on the A6, so it’s very easy to get to. We’ll be back when we’re next in the area.

Ellis’ Tea Room, Rothley Station (Great Central Railway), November 2017

The Great Central Railway is the UK’s only double track, main line heritage railway. It’s the only place in the world where full size steam engines can be seen passing each other – just as it was when steam ruled the rails. And it’s just down the road from us, which is rather handy. We’ve been to various bits of it over the years, been to the beer festival (every September), been on the dining experience trip (many years ago), and Mrs MOFAD had her 40th birthday party in one of the carriages as we steamed to Leicester and back. It was a great night.

Trains run every weekend of the year, bank holidays and selected weekdays throughout the summer.  The railway has won a number of awards including “independent railway of the year”, a gold award for the East Midlands’ best visitor experience and is a quality assured visitor attraction as designated by Enjoy England.

The latest project is to reconnect the northern part of the line which ran towards Nottingham (the clock tower outside the Victoria Centre is all that remains of Nottingham Victoria station). You can see more about the project here:-

Each station along the line (Loughborough, Quorn and Woodhouse, Rothley and Leicester North) has its own food and drink offerings. Loughborough has a buffet cafe and a shop on the main platform. Quorn and Woodhouse has the Butler Henderson cafe and the NAAFI tearoom. Leicester North as the Station tearoom (tea, coffee, snacks, cakes).

Our destination was Rothely station, and Ellis’ Tea Room. There’s also the Station tearoom on the platform, but Ellis’ Tea Room is separate to that. The building which houses it was built in 1899 when the Great Central Railway was opened. Local firm Joseph Ellis and Sons Ltd used it to store corn and coal, ready to be collected by wagons and sent around the country by train. The building fell out of use well before the GCR was preserved but has now been fully restored and carefully converted to a tea room. It serves hot and cold drinks, homemade cakes, sandwiches, light lunches and ice creams.

Today we both had panini, ham and cheese for me, tuna melt for Mrs MOFAD. The cafe was very busy and our lunch took a while to arrive but it was very tasty when it did. They do prioritise lunches for those people who have a train to catch, which makes sense.

A simple lunch today, just what was required on a crisp autumn day. And no visit to a steam railway is complete without taking a photo or two of a train. Obvs.

Church Inn, Chelmorton, Derbyshire, September 2017

If this looks familiar (like the pubs from the last 2 days did), that’s because it is. We were here on Easter Saturday with friends for dinner. They were a bit funny about taking a group of 8, but eventually relented.

Today we had a morning walk around the village and surrounding area, and the weather was not on our side. Periods of rain and drizzle were upon us, such a contrast to the glorious weather of yesterday. We called it a day on our walk and popped in to the Church Inn for lunch. Luckily soggy walkers are welcome.

Walker’s reward today was Dexter’s UXB from Storm Brewing Co in Macclesfield. I had quite a few of their beers when we stayed in Higher Sutton last year. A good bitter golden ale and most welcome today.

Given the rather damp and dreary conditions that we’d been out walking in, I did consider something warming. But when there’s ploughman’s around, it’s always worth a go.

This one was a mixed bag. Lovely warm fresh bread, a tangy stilton and a rare boiled egg were the good bits. Tasteless coloured cheddar, horrible iceberg lettuce and a poor coleslaw were the bad bits. And where’s the pickle and sliced apple or bit of orange or something? The good just about outweighed the bad. A very close run thing though.

A bit of a mixed bag today, but this is still a lovely village pub. I just won’t have the ploughman’s next time as they need more practice…

Anglers Rest, Miller’s Dale, Derbyshire, August 2017

A familiar pub, but all previous visits have been in pre-MOFAD days, so it is the first time that it features here. It’s kind of handily placed for cyclists on the Monsal Trail. I say kind of, because it’s really easy to get to from the trail, as it’s just a few minutes down hill. You can get a great view of the viaduct as you pass underneath it on the way down to the pub.

If you want to get back on the trail, you have to go back up that hill. Spoiler alert : I was the only one who cycled all the way back up, the others pushed. I cycle every day, which does give me a rather unfair advantage. It’s definitely a 1st gear hill though.

Our trip over from Bakewell was calculated to get here around lunchtime, and we did just that. The overcast conditions today were not conducive to sitting outside, so we grabbed a table in the bar area by the fire (not lit!)

The beer choice was a very easy one. A pint of Pale Rider from Kelham Island Brewery, a very tasty blonde ale. The gentle companion to Easy Rider, a pair of beers that we had quite a few of back in the Swan days…

A classic pub should mean a pub classic, and a ploughmans is just that. This one was packed with classic ingredients. No need to choose from cheeses or ham, you get both. And half a pork pie as a bonus (you get quite a lot of these in a New Forest ploughmans, which is a good thing). Pickled onions, pickle, a warm, fresh roll, some more interesting leaves than just iceberg (still there though) and even a bit of beetroot. The slice of orange is less classic than some apple, but still welcome.

A lovely riverside pub (when it’s not raining outside) which does lovely food and keeps a good pint of beer. Well worth the effort of coming off (and getting back up to) the Monsal Trail. It is also a nice walk over from Tideswell (and back). Well worth a visit, and even better on a lovely sunny day. You might expect one of those in August, but not today…

The Beer Hall, Staveley – Hawkshead brewery tap, August 2017

All good things must come to an end. Our Lakes camping break is one of those things. We have bagged another 9 Wainwrights, enjoyed some great walking, and had some lovely pub dinners and decent local ales.

Handily, our route home involves going within half a mile of Staveley, the home of Hawkshead brewery (who outgrew Hawkshead itself many years ago) and The Beer Hall, their brewery tap. We came here twice in 2016, once for lunch and a shopping trip (you can read more about the brewery and The Beer Hall on that post), and once for a shopping trip. Today was another 2 for the price of 1 visit, with lunch and shopping on the agenda once more.

Lunch first, and a couple of drinks. A Solar Sour for Mrs MOFAD, a refreshingly sour wheat beer. For me, the August Session IPA, packed with Jester, Citra, Mosaic and Centennial hops, delicious fruity hoppiness.

Food next, and we both opted for the ploughman’s, two cheeses from a choice of many, some salad, a couple of slices of bread, a lovely ginger chutney and coleslaw.

Decent portions of cheese, a nice smoked cheddar and a brie were my choices. The smoked cheddar was really nice, a decent level of smokiness but not too much to overwhelm those who are not big smoke fans (I like a lot of smoke). The brie was a squishy delight. There’s also a pickled onion peeking out from behind the coleslaw.

As ever, the choice of a bread board to serve it all on makes life difficult, a piled up salad is always in danger of slipping off at some point, and we both lost salad items to the floor. Plates were invented in order to eat food from.

We lingered over lunch for as long as we could (a 200 mile journey still awaits), but the time had soon come to do a bit of shopping before departure. A good range of Hawkshead beers are available (I picked up 6 on my last visit) as well as an ever changing range from British breweries and a few very interesting European beers (mostly from those lovely Belgian types).

Let’s have a quick look through.

Mrs MOFAD opted for a Great White, two Chuckle Berry Sours (been waiting for ages to find bottles of this) and a Floris Mango.

My shopping basket contained Fallen Brewing’s Grapevine (a new world pale ale), two from Marble Brewery, Murk du Soleil, the excellently named double IPA, and Prime Time, a collaboration Kolsch style beer brewed with beer writer and “sommALEier” Melissa Cole.

The red can is Sputnik from North Brewing Co, a dry hopped pale ale and there’s a bottle of Thresher from Siren Craft Brew, a spelt IPA triple dry hopped with Galaxy, Mosaic and Citra, which just happened to be the first collaboration brew at Siren’s new brewhouse.

The remaining items are a can of this year’s batch of Key Lime Tau (2π) by Crooked Stave and Hawkshead Breweries. The 2015 version was brewed for the 2015 Rainbow Project, and was my runner up in August 2016’s beer of the month. It has been brewed in the last two years, and the 2017 version had to go in my shopping basket. If you love lime like I love lime, you’ll love this.

Finally there are two bottles of Brodie’s Prime Export. I’ve already got one of these in stock, so these are for MOFAD drinking companions Matt & Steve. I think they’ll like it.

Another lovely visit to The Beer Hall. It’s the place to go if you are passing by on the A591. Today we had the added bonus of driving out over Britain’s newest bridge, the new Gowan Bridge in Staveley. The old bridge was destroyed as a result of Storm Desmond in December 2015, and there’s even a sign on the A591 inviting you to visit Britain’s newest bridge.

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.