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.

Centro Lounge, December 2016

Another night out at the cinema for us, it’s becoming a lovely regular thing. Another “based on a true story” film tonight, Sully, the story of the pilot who landed his Airbus A320 on the Hudson River in January 2009, saving all 155 passengers and crew after both engines were disabled by  bird strike.

We were with regular MOFAD companions (and now cinema companions) Karon & John, and opted for an early evening showing so that we could have something to eat straight after. We decided to come back to the Centro Lounge after a pleasant visit last month. It was much busier tonight, with at least a couple of Xmas parties in (spotted quite a few people who I know).

A table became free just after we arrived so we grabbed it, studied the menus and then toddled off to the bar to order.

Another pint of the Loungers Cruiser for me, refreshing with some hints of hoppiness and bitterness. John had the Bath Ales Dark Side which is always reliable.

Food next, and a festive special, turkey and bacon pie, which was crammed full of turkey with a few bits of bacon. Served with champ mash (not enough spring onions to call it champ) and seasonal vegetables. Sadly, at this time of the year, the prhase “seasonal vegetables” means running the gauntlet of the evil sprout. The devil’s vegetable. Sprouts arrived. Sprouts were duly segregated away from the real food.

A very tasty pie, decent mash, good carrots and gravy. But boo to sprouts.

Mrs MOFAD opted for a fishy Friday, sea bass with prawn and prosecco risotto. I was very tempted, but I had sea bass with tomato and pineapple salsa on Wednesday night, and I’m not all about that bass, about that bass, about that bass. It was very good, and certainly deserving of a place on the specials board. There’s not enough good fish in pubs.

Karon had bang bang chicken noodles, sweet chilli noodles with panko-crumbed chicken breast, pak choi, tenderstem broccoli, sugar snap peas and cashew nuts in a sesame, peanut & coconut sauce (with a few slices of fresh red chilli for the brave). John had beef chilli, chunky beef served with basmati rice, sour cream and mature cheddar. Very mild, but pleasant.

We finished our drinks and headed off to The Needle & Pin for another ale or two… Another pleasant night at Centro Lounge, it will probably be our regular post-film dining option…

Church House pub, Sutton, September 2016 visit #2

As promised just a few weeks ago, we are back. The forecast for this weekend looks reasonable, with rain only likely to visit during the nights. As mentioned last time, Suzy the Ninja Hound is with us this weekend (now that Mark has returned from dancing on the sand in Rio), so we have to limit our pub options to dog friendly pubs…

If that dancing on the sand reference is too 80s for you…

So, how do you communicate a specials board to a room of 7 people and a dog? Take a photo and pass your phone round. Here’s what was on tonight…

Beer first, and a pint of Concept #14 from Mobberley Brewhouse, a fruity red ale, heavy on the malt and very tasty.

Much to catch up on, particularly Mark’s Rio adventures and brushes with royalty whilst working for the BBC at the Olympics and Paralympics. Whilst all that catching up was happening, food arrived. For me it was fish pie, something I make loads at home, but rarely have when out and about (for just that reason). This one was a good effort, served simply with peas and a few straggly bits of rocket.

This fish pie also contained boiled egg, which is a very classic addition, although it seems I was the only one who was aware of this. You can catch a glimpse of this, as well as other dinners in the next photo. There’s also a pint of Bosley Cloud in the foreground, a good pale ale that went well with the fish pie.

There was still more catching up to do, so time for another pint, this time Robinsons Unicorn, an ever reliable dark golden ale

As we had the Ninja Hound in tow, we were squeezed into a little side room, but she was as well behaved as ever, and made a good impression on everyone, particularly the friendly staff. We finished up our drinks and then booked our table for tomorrow night. We will be back once more. A lovely and friendly village pub.

Talbot Arms, Settle, April 2016

A return visit to a favourite pub, the pub of the month from August 2015, when plans formed for a fairly swift return visit to Settle. Eight months have passed and we are true to our word. So it was only right and proper that we return on our first night.

A packed house tonight, as you would probably expect for a sunny Saturday night in springtime. Almost standing room only, but we squeezed in to a tiny table by the pool table, directed by the ever-friendly landlord. We perused the menu, and just a few minutes later another table was vacated, and that lovely landlord diverted us across to it.

Off to the bar to order, a lamb burger with tzatziki for me and a pork, cranberry and tarragon pie for Mrs MOFAD, both from the specials board. Some refreshment too, a pint of Moorhouse’s White Mist, an interesting wheat beer with biscuit, orange and coriander notes. Light and easy drinking. The on tap cider option was one that Mrs MOFAD had not enjoyed when she last had it (thanks Untappd!), so it was Bulmers Pear instead.

A quick reminisce about our previous visit, and then, as if by magic, the shopkeeper appeared. Ok, he didn’t. But another friendly member of staff did, bringing our dinner over. We swiftly tucked in, and it was just as lovely as our last visit. A tasty pie, and a very nice lamb burger indeed.

Another pint to wash it down with, Rooster’s Ragged Point, an American style stout, with complex hop and floral notes to complement the usual roasty toastiness you expect in a stout.

Another lovely meal at the Talbot, still the best pub in Settle with the best landlord and great beers available. We’re coming back on Wednesday when “My Pointless Friend Richard” will be riding again for the pub quiz…

Friend at Hand, Herbrand Street, Bloomsbury

A busy Friday night in Central London. As already noted, we hadn’t really accounted for all those post-work drinkers when we were wandering around earlier on. We had popped our heads in here about an hour previously, and it was absolutely packed. Upon our return, we managed to find ourselves a table, the last one available.

I’ve been to this pub before. It was before MOFAD records began, before Untappd records began and I can’t find a check in on Facebook. So I don’t know when it was exactly. Let’s say 2012. Anyway, I remembered that it was ok, so we settled ourselves in for dinner at this cosy little pub, just a very short stroll from Russell Square tube station.

Lots of food to choose from on the menu, various sharing platters that are popular in so many pubs nowadays, a selection of burgers (no pulled pork option though!), fish’n’chips, a vegetarian version (halloumi replacing the fish) as well as pub classics like steak, hunters chicken, sausage & mash, and several pies.

It was the “Big Ben burger” for me, a 6oz beef burger, topped with crispy bacon, Cheddar cheese, a fried free range egg and crispy onion rings, served with a burger sauce (BBQ sauce). Looking at this, it appears my onion rings were missing! I was too hungry to notice this on the night, obviously! It was a very tasty (and messy, which is a good sign) burger.

Mrs MOFAD had wanted hunters chicken, but it had been hunted to extinction tonight, so opted for second choice, chicken & chorizo pie, with chips, fresh seasonal vegetables and a jug of gravy.

Mrs MOFAD accompanied this with some Aspall cider (served in the lovely Aspall half pint “wine glass”). Mine was washed down with some Portobello VPA, which stands for very pale ale. It was not a very pale ale, but was sweet and pleasant enough. Quite pricey though and not value for money.

The final members of our party had arrived at this point, so as Chris & Caroline were tucking into dinner, we ordered some more drinks. This time the Taylor Walker 1730 Special Pale Ale. What a big name to live up to. And what an utter disappointment. My Untappd review simply says “meh”. It was just so “nothing”. A shame really, but I’d rather explore new beers than stick with the usual.

The Friend at Hand is definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in the area. They could do with sorting out the toilets though, they are a bit scabby.

The Beer Hall, Hawkshead Brewery, Staveley

Another moist day out on the fells. We had trusted the optimistic Accuweather over the pessimistic BBC, and it was ok for about an hour. But then the rain came. And didn’t stop. So we decided to cut our walk around Kentmere short, and head straight for the pub instead.

And what a good decision that was. What a good pub. As you would hope for a brewery tap. Let’s deal with the history bit first.

Hawkshead Brewery started life in 2002, just outside Hawkshead where they could brew around 8,500 pints of beer a week. In 2006 they moved over to Staveley, where they have been expanding ever since, increasing their brewing capacity and developing the very brewery tap that we were visiting, The Beer Hall. This involved building a new bar around two 11,000 litre stainless steel tanks which rise up through the first floor, and dominate the upstairs dining area. This means that they can now knock out over 60,000 pints a week. That’s some expansion.

What this means for you the customer is that there are loads of beers on tap for you to sample and then order to go with your lunch. There were at least 10 on today, as well as lots more bottles to choose from. More on that story later.

We had a few tastes before deciding on what to order. I liked the Great White, a cracking wheat beer with spicy notes and a cheeky NZ hop coming through. We settled on (from left to right) a Dry Stone Stout (dry and smoky, easy drinking), a Solar Sour (Mrs MOFAD’s new favourite – a supreme session sour, which are not words you generally see together), and a Sundown (say hello to my hoppy friend – cascade, simcoe and citra hops, super tropical nose, bitterness and sweetness on the palate).

Lots of lovely beer should be accompanied by lots of lovely food. And it was. We opted for the “Brewer’s lunch”, an interesting take on a ploughmans. This consists of lots of lovely bits and pieces, huntsman’s pie (pork, chicken and stuffing), Brodie’s Prime sausages (made with the beer of that name), parma ham, slices of local ham, black pudding (this is the north after all), sticky bbq ribs, a pickled onion, piccalilli, salad, sourdough bread and butter. We also ordered a bowl of fries to accompany this delicious selection.

A note about mustard. In England, if your dish is advertised as coming “with mustard”, like this one was, it should be accompanied by a pot of freshly made English mustard, made from finely ground mustard powder. It should not come with some grainy generic mustard. Luckily, some sachets of decent mustard were available so the seedy stuff was left alone. Despite this minor mustard mishap, a lovely lunch indeed.

If that’s not enough, downstairs you can do some shopping. There’s a range of clothing, bags, mugs etc. But more importantly there is a full range of bottled beer available, including almost all of the Hawkshead products (some are also available in the nearby large supermarket) as well as some rare collaborations and foreign imports from Belgium and the USA. This excellent selection should definitely help with #tryanuary

The Beer Hall is most certainly MOFAD approved, looking forward to a return visit!

BBC Good Food Show, The NEC, November 2015

We have been visiting the Good Food show since at least 1999. It is an annual pilgrimage. At its best, it is an opportunity to pick up lots of interesting food and drink from smaller producers. At its worst it is overrun by the big supermarket chains and energy suppliers.

That was its nadir around 5 years ago, but they do appear to have listened to feedback, as it has been back to its best over the last few years, full of great stuff from small and friendly producers who want to tell you about what they have made and how they have made it.

Lots of highlights today. The biggest one for me was Renegade Brewery from Berkshire, a spin-off from West Berkshire brewery. They had three great beers on show, and there was time for a quick flight through all of them. A good lager with plenty of hops, and then the next stop is the India Session Ale (because we’re all about the session IPA these days), a hoppy IPA without the high ABV that you might associate with it. And finally, a West Coast pale ale, an American style pale ale (which means it’s not that pale), but is stuffed with hops, by far and away the best beer of the day (but then I am an unashamed hophead). I restricted myself to just the 12 bottles today.

The next best thing was craft cidre (not cider) from L’Atypique. Not one, not two, not three, but four of them, all deserving of the name cidre (unlike that Stella muck, aka husband beater). The reserve cidre was fantastic, with almost wine-like qualities. It will be our Xmas dinner tipple this year. They also have a standard one, a rose and a pear cidre. All natural, no added stuff, and really nice tastes.

You’ll also spot a selection of ales from Wadworth, my annual refresh of herbs and spices from Fox’s spices, beautiful spicy Lime chutney from Spice’n’Tice, Tracklements chutneys, and lots of garlic things from the Isle of Wight garlic farm. Oh, and sausages from Debbie & Andrews, making a welcome return to the show.

Another great day out at the Good Food show. Not even the weirdness of Sticky Toffee pudding cheese (yes, really) could put a downer on it. Well worth it. MOFAD cards were left on several stalls 🙂