Plank & Leggit, March 2018 #2

The sun is out, the sky is blue, and we are hopping across borders. We started our walk in Shardlow, Derbyshire, crossing briefly back into Leicestershire and then after lunch we will go over to Nottinghamshire. All of this within a few miles, because we are in that odd “three counties corner” that is found just up the road from us.

The route of our walk found us not far from the Planl & Leggit for the second time this month. This time it was our choice, but largely because it’s hard to find a pub that serves a normal menu on a Sunday lunchtime, so this will do for today.

Not just some sad looking sandwiches either, a chicken and bacon baguette with melted cheese, leaves, and some finely chopped red onion (for some reason).

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There was also a side of decent pub chips, although they were in a weird plastic basket with that weird waxy gingham paper that seems to be finding its way into more and more pubs.

No beer once again, because Greene King IPA doesn’t count, so lime and soda saves the day, and we were soon on our way and crossing the border to finish our walk.

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The Head of Steam is coming to Leicester

On Thursday April 5th, a new pub is opening in Leicester, replacing the Reynard on Market Street (which I never visited and didn’t particularly want to). The Head of Steam is the fifteenth pub of that name to be opened by Hartlepool-based Camerons Brewery, and I’ve heard good things about the other ones around the country.

Like other pubs in the chain, it will be presenting beers from local breweries such as Framework, Charnwood, Langton and Brewsters, alongside some of the best beers and ciders from around the world, which will be pouring from its 30 lines. With cans and bottles also available, there should be around 120 different beers/ciders available at any one time.

The HoS team pride themselves on hand-selecting the perfect range of beer for customers using expert knowledge from their team of passionate beer sommeliers.

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There will also be food available, served from 11am until 9pm, including breakfasts until 3pm (full English, pancakes, porridge and a veggie breakfast). Sandwiches and wraps are available until 5pm, with pulled pork and fish fingers among the fillings alongside light bites such as soup and nachos. There are eight burgers to choose from including vegetarian and vegan ones, as well as three foot long hot dogs, including Homer’s favourite “foot long chilli dog”.

Wait, there’s more. Five pizzas including pulled pork and chicken tikka varieties. There are three pies, served with mash, peas and gravy. Then we get to the main courses, with classics such as fish’n’chips, sausage’n’mash and steak’n’chips. There are also more international offerings in the form of Moroccan harissa marinated salmon, boeuf bourguignon, chicken tikka masala, mussels and chicken Milanese. There are puddings too. And many of these dishes come with suggested beer pairings too.

They have already become a verified venue on Untappd, which helps you to see what beer will be available when you visit. There will also be regular events such as quiz nights and live music, and the VIP floor can be reserved for your function. If it ever warms up, there’s a beer garden too.

Looking forward to checking it out on a future trip to Leicester.

The Devonshire Arms, Kensington, March 2018

We decided not to back into central London tonight. After a day out in Bermondsey we came back to the hotel to unwind with a cup of tea, and then headed out just around the corner for a hearty pub dinner.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that we are in Derbyshire, given that is full of pubs called The Devonshire Arms (the various Dukes of Devonshire having owned much of the land in the area), but we are still in Kensington.

This was another pub taking part in the Thornbridge “craft beer residency” and once again my Thornbridge polo shirt caused a little confusion, as I was mistaken for an employee again 🙂 However, I didn’t have any Thornbridge tonight, because they were approaching the end of their residency, and I’d already had the one that they had left on keg. “What about these bottles” came the reply from the lady behind the bar. “Nope, had them too.” In fact I’ve had 58 different Thornbridge beers according to Untappd, so it was statistically unlikely that they would have one in stock that I hadn’t had.

Although perhaps I should have just had one anyway, as my first pint of Adnams Fat Sprat proved to be nothing more than a bog standard malty bitter.

On to the food, and a rare sight in a pub, a “fish pie for 2” served with beans and broccolini. Given that it has been freezing cold all day, and with snow swirling around outside as we arrived, a warm and hearty fish pie was just the thing, presented in this big cast iron pan to allow you to serve yourself.

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It was suitably delicious, very much hearty and warming, and certainly just what we needed on this bitterly cold night. Mrs MOFAD accompanied hers with a Stiegl-Weisse Naturtrüb by Stieglbrauerei zu Salzburg, a very nice herbal wheat beer from Salzburg in Austria.

I decided to risk an ABInbev subsidiary, Blue Point’s Toasted Lager, which was not toasted in any way, but was a perfectly pleasant amber lager, certainly a change from the general cold fizz that you might find in a London pub.

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A lovely dinner at The Devonshire Arms, well worth a visit if you’re in the area, and very handy if you’re staying in the nearby Holiday Inn. Lots of posh houses/flats to have a nose at on the way there and back too.

Brewdog, Soho, March 2018

It’s a Friday night in London. Everyone is out out. Trying to find somewhere for a drink is a bit of a tricky proposition. After a bit more wandering (our dinner plan A turned into about plan F after lots of wandering), we settled on Brewdog, based on the fact that it’s not the cheapest night out in London, and we might just be able to get a table.

After working our way through to the bar, we spotted a table becoming vacant, and Mrs MOFAD slipped through the crowd to grab the table whilst I grabbed some drinks.

For me it was Siren’s Kisetsu, a Japanese Saison with yuzu for a tart and zesty citrus kick, sudachi (another small, tart citrus fruit) and cedar, created with Tonkotsu Ramen bar. There are also Oolong tea leaves and Saison Dupont yeast brings it all together, and you really get the fruitiness from the citrus fruits.

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Mrs MOFAD was also on a sweet and sour kick with this Shanghai Noon from Cleveland’s Platform Beer Company, a prickly pear (aka Indian fig opuntia) and lychee sour, fruity and sweet with a nice tartness to it.

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As you will have noticed from the interesting hue, we once more found ourselves sitting underneath some neon in Brewdog, much like York last year. Despite that, it was good to be in here for some quality beer.

Plank & Leggit, Sawley Marina, March 2018

Another night out with walking friends, where someone else chooses the pub and we’re really just there for the chat and a bite to eat. Same story tonight, a chance to catch up with a few people who we’ve not seen for a while, and a few who are regulars in these pages.

Tonight, the pub classic of fish’n’chips, which was nothing special and Mrs MOFAD had a pub curry, which was better.

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You might just catch a glimpse of my pint of lime and soda. Because despite being just a few hundred yards from an actual brewery, there’s only Greene King filth available here. Lime and soda it is. Every time.

The Marquis Cornwallis, Bloomsbury, March 2018

A lunch stop in London. The Marquis, affectionately known (by Mrs MOFAD and I at least) as the Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames’ character from Pulp Fiction) is a pub that has featured here before. Having stayed at the hotel opposite a number of times, it’s somewhere I’ve been to quite a bit.

As I was in the area, I popped in for lunch, and there was time for a drink and a sandwich. The drink was another Thornbridge beer, thanks to their craft beer residency also being here. This was Ena, a nitro milk stout that was smooth, sweet and creamy. Little coffee hint and plenty of roastiness.

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Lunch was a posh fish finger sandwich (I love a posh fish finger) and chips, and was perfectly pleasant.

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It’s good to see that the Marquis is still on good form after a recent refit. More than can be said for our more local Marquis Wellington, which we are still boycotting.

Craft Beer Co, Covent Garden, March 2018

When is Covent Garden not Covent Garden? When it’s High Holborn. If you’re on the corner of Endell Street and High Holborn, I don’t think you’re in Covent Garden. If you know your way around London then you might agree. If you are thinking of opening a bar, sticking the words Covent and Garden on it will certainly help you to attract visitors.

However, I’d argue that if you’ve got 11 cask ales, 2 cask ciders, 28 more beers on keg and another couple of keg ciders, that’s all that you need to attract visitors. It was enough for me. I went out of my way to come here, instead of going back to my hotel via a nearby pub. I hadn’t located any decent pubs near to the hotel at this point, so I came here instead, for a pint before catching the tube back.

I say pint, it was actually two halves, because with 39 beers to choose from, how can you have just one? It was hard enough picking two.

I started Tai Chi from Tiny Rebel, probably my favourite Welsh brewery right now. It’s just your run-of-the-mill lychee and sea buckthorn pale ale, one of the birthday beers brewed to celebrate their sixth birthday.

There’s a slight sweetness and some lychee tartness, and sharpness from the buckthorn. It didn’t really work for me, but I like the idea. I think finding this on cask might confuse a few people.

My other half was Scrambler, from Rooster’s Brewing Co, who are also celebrating a birthday, their 25th to be precise. This one is just your run-of-the-mill melon pale ale, available in the first part of the year.

Tasty melon flavours, and if it was soured up a bit it would be very nice indeed. A tasty pale ale with a difference, and another one that might confuse a few cask fans.

This is a great bar if you’re looking for a great beer. I suspect it gets really crowded at peak times, but there was space in the ground floor bar at 10pm on a Thursday, and seats downstairs in the basement too. I’ll be back after my next west end night out…