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…

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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.

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.

Pint Shop, Oxford, May 2017

A tale with a sorry aftertaste. More on that shortly.

We’d had a pleasant morning bimbling around Oxford, dawdling around the shops and the market, and just not doing a lot. We needed somewhere for lunch. Somewhere with a great selection of beer and some nice food. Pint Shop looked like it would fit the bill.

We arrived upstairs and were directed downstairs to the dining area. Despite being a Saturday lunchtime, it was pretty deserted, so we got a table for our group easily, settled in, and ordered some food and drink.

For me, a pint of Release the Chimps, delicious bitterness from Nene Valley brewery. It was certainly better than one of Matt’s which was incorrectly described as “over conditioned”. That might have happened in the 1970s when additional carbon dioxide was added to casks to make them last longer. This one had simply been around too long, and was on the turn.

Food arrived after a bit of a wait. A twist on a pub classic for me, chicken and chips, with frisee and a garlic butter. The chicken was delicious and tender, the chips were good, and the garlic butter was well judged. The frisee worked but it’s not really the best of leaves. Mrs MOFAD always says that it looks like the slugs have been at it.

As you can see, it was pretty empty inside. Quite modern and hipster-ish, but not over the top.

A final mention for the beer board. A good selection available, which is what drew this particular establishment to our attention in the first place. Loads of Thornbridge on (the most I’ve seen on tap outside of the Thornbridge beer festival), one from Magic Rock, the aforementioned Nene Valley (the only reasonably local offering), and one time craft beer Camden Hells (now part of a super-global-mega-corp).

So that’s all the sweet part. Here comes the sour part. We asked for the bill. We received the bill. There was an optional 10% service charge included. We opted to pay what we wanted as a tip. The bill came back.

“Sorry you’ve not paid enough”.
“The service charge is stated as optional.”
“Ah, but you have to pay this bill in full or we have to produce another bill.”
“Off you go and produce another bill then.”

We then paid that bill and left our own optional tip. Which was less than it was going to be after that petty bureaucracy.

A fuller post about service charges is something for another time. But forcing them upon customers really annoys me. Pay your staff properly so we don’t have to be guilt-tripped in to topping up their wages. If you’re charging 6 quid for a scotch egg, you can probably give a quid of that to your waiting staff.

Anyway, enough moaning. Good food, good beer (apart from one that had been on too long) and a nice place in the city centre. Worth checking out if you’re dreaming of beer in the dreaming spires…

The Old Horns Inn, High Bradfield, April 2017

A sunny Saturday lunchtime in South Yorkshire. Yes, we have sneaked over the border for today’s walk, enjoying a stroll around Low and High Bradfield, and putting this pub perfectly in the middle of our walk as a lunch stop. This lovely sunny day saw our first outdoor pub lunch of the year, although that does unfortunately mean you get to sit with lots of smokers puffing away…

A few different cask ales on at the bar and I thought this was a new one to me, but it turns out I’ve had Hen Harrier from Bowland Brewery before, and it was in better condition the previous time too.

Lots of things on the menu to choose from, classic pub dishes like Hunter’s chicken, steak pie, sandwiches, jacket potatoes and some amusingly named and intriguing dishes such as:-

Elvis’ Last Burger

6oz beef burger, melted cheddar cheese, peanut butter, pickle, crispy bacon & onion rings with “Frank’s hot sauce”

Today it was time for another fish finger sandwich, the “Giant Fish Finger” baguette:-

No false advertising here, that is certainly a giant fish finger. Nice bowl of chips and a few leaves on the side.

A good pub lunch enjoyed in the sunshine at a lovely village pub. Well worth a lunch stop if you’re in the area…