Hotel Teatro, Denver, October 2018

A spooky evening and another quick Denver post. This evening picks up where this afternoon left off, networking with the people that I met at The Renaissance earlier on today, along with a few more who couldn’t make it, as they have only just rolled into town.

Another buffet meal, with the usual selection of meats, breads, salad bits and other things. There was an added tasty bonus here, lots of plates full of churros, the Spanish doughnut which is probably from Portugal by way of China. These were lovely, as they almost always are, crunchy and sprinkled with lightly spiced sugar.

Tonight I got to sample Sour Apricot from Dry Dock brewery in Aurora, Colorado. A nice balance of sweet apricots and sourness, tart and fruity with sourness from the brewing process. It went well with some nice bits of cheese from the buffet.

There was also a Tivoli Helles Lager, another Denver brewery, who are based on the Auraria College campus of Metropolitan State University in Denver. A very easy drinking lager with a very German taste, which is probably because it is brewed from entirely imported ingredients.

Finally a “Face Down Nitro Brown” from Telluride Brewing, also in Colorado. A bit of a hybrid of an English and American style brown ale (the beer that your Uncle drank in the 1970s) that is silky smooth and super malty.

Afterwards, I found out that this is a four time award winner, taking gold in 2012 and 2014, and bronze in 2016 at the Great American Beer Festival for “American Style Brown,” and also a gold at the 2012 World Beer Cup.

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A pleasant evening of chat and beer and food.

The Swan Inn visit #2, Hanley Swan, Worcestershire, August 2018

I’ve said pretty much everything I need to about this pub with Saturday night’s post. We booked the table tonight whilst we were finishing our dinner on Saturday night, which pretty much sums things up. Before we have a quick gander at tonight’s dinner, a quick note on poncy menu pricing. I’ve mentioned this before, but if something costs £6.50, please display it on the menu as £6.50 not 6 1/2. I don’t want to be told that a pudding is 7 3/4, it is £7.75 – why the need for fractions? What does it achieve apart from annoying people?

Anyway, on to dinner, and another beautifully kept pint, this time Butty Bach from Wye Valley Brewery, a classic malty bitter. And in a proper dimple pot too.

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More amuse bouche crisps soon came our way…

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For main course, something a bit different for me, hot smoked salmon nicoise salad. After the glory of Saturday night’s steak, I had to make a hard decision not to have that again, but it was a good decision as this salad was also glorious. And that’s not something I often say about salads!

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Mrs MOFAD had rack of lamb with polenta (another first) and that was also delicious.

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Another pudding was in order after more exertions on bikes and on foot today, so this dark chocolate and seville orange fondant with walnut and hazelnut granola and grand marnier and orange ice cream was an indulgent delight, melting in the middle.

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A second great meal at this great village pub. If we’re ever in the area again we’ll come here again.

The Swan Inn, Hanley Swan, Worcestershire, August 2018

A pub not far away from a camp site is something to always be explored. The Marton Arms in Thornton (Yorkshire) is probably our favourite “close to camp site” pub, given that it was just a few minutes walk away from the site.

The Swan Inn is about a mile away from where we were staying, but it had been recommended by regular MOFAD companions Karon & John, and looked really good on the web site. We had booked online, a quick and easy process, and they even e-mail you on the morning of your booking for you to confirm it. Very efficient and modern – I heartily approve!

We arrived a little early and ordered drinks from the bar. A very friendly barman handed us drinks and menus and we waited a few moments to be shown to our table. We had a nice little “mini booth” in the corner. We sipped our drinks and perused the menu, lots of nice things to choose from.

A waitress came over, looked at us drinking our drinks and reading menus, and asked us if we wanted to order drinks. Errrr, no. We’d like to order food. Oh, ok, I’ll get someone to take your order. She goes back to the bar, puts down her notepad, picks up a different notepad, and then comes back to take our order. Odd.

I continued to sip an excellent pint of HPA from Wye Valley Brewery. Really nice to see that a “foodie” pub is also capable of looking after their beer and presenting it in tip top condition.

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A little “amuse-bouche” arrived, a small basket of freshly cooked crisps and a little pot of salsa. This was a nice surprise, a freshly cooked crisp is a rare sight, and it was a pleasant little mouth pleaser. The salsa could do with a bit of a reduction though, rather watery tomato.

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On to the main courses, and most excellent they were. Mrs MOFAD opted for the asparagus risotto which was very flavoursome.

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After 10 miles of cycling and 5 of walking (both of which involved plenty of uphill), I needed some big tasty protein, in the form of a lovely bit of sirloin steak.

There was a time when I would almost always have steak when out and about. Now, it’s something that I only have only rarely (and always rare). Rareness (or lack of it) is one of the reasons why, it seems that it is a struggle to find places that cook steak to your liking (and it’s a personal preference which should be easy to honour).

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This one was cooked to perfection (for me) and was really tasty. Classic accompaniments of triple-cooked chips (we do love a bit of a triple cooking nowadays), a mushroom, roasted/grilled tomatoes and a few leaves on the side (with interesting parmesan shavings bringing another flavour into play). With the addition of some nicely warm English mustard, this was a perfect plate of steak and chips. More like this please!

After the exertions of the day, it’s fair to say that we had earned ourselves a pudding, and given there were plenty of lovely options on offer, we decided to indulge.

Mrs MOFAD had apple and cinnamon crumble with a scoop of ice cream. It was quite tart and might have benefitted from a spoonful of sugar. There was also a lot of cinnamon, which is exactly why I avoided it. Keep cinnamon out of my puddings 🙂

I had the roasted peach pavlova, which was a sweet delight. A very firm meringue, half a peach, nicely whipped cream and some cheffy squiggles along with some micro leaves, a couple of flowers and some fruity dots. It was lovely, although some more peach wouldn’t have gone amiss.

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A really nice dinner in a lovely pub. Whilst we waited for our plates to be cleared, I booked online for Monday night too. A fantastic village pub!

Bull’s Head, Thringstone, August 2018

Only the second ever appearance of Thringstone in these hallowed electronic pages, and both have come this year. The weather forecast this morning looked promising for the evening, so we decided to venture out for a short walk before retiring to the pub for tea.

Due to rather black clouds gathering overhead after the first part of our walk, we decided to cut it short and dive in to the pub a little earlier than planned.

The Bull’s Head has had a number of incarnations over the years. It’s somewhere we regularly pass on the A512, and it comes as no surprise to see it with new branding once a year. It’s now a Stonehouse pub, which means that it specialises in pizzas and carvery (it had been a carvery in a previous life). It was fairly busy for a random Thursday night in August, probably a reflection of the competitive pricing.

We took advantage of that, with the Thursday night deal of 2 pizzas and a bottle of prosecco for £20. This was quite welcome, given that the beer on offer was awful, and there was nothing interesting in bottles. Despite being on the outskirts of the village, this is very much now a “food pub”, not a classic “village pub” where you would expect to find a friendly landlord proud of their well kept cask ales.

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That said, it’s a reasonable food pub. The pizzas were good, a decent crisp base and a good amount of topping (not skimping and saving on the more expensive crispy duck to keep profit margins up). Free salad too, in a classic Harvester/Pizza Hut “go and help yourself” style.

Good post-walk fodder to keep you satisfied. And I do love to see a crispy duck pizza on the menu, even though I suspect Italians are self-combusting at the thought of such a thing!

Wheatsheaf Hotel, Ingleton, July 2018

It’s the classic “first night of holiday” trip to the pub. We are in Yorkshire for a week of camping, and we have the Yorkshire three peaks ahead of us this week, as well as some other, flatter, walks. We decided to stroll down to the village of Ingleton from the camp site, and settled on the Wheatsheaf Inn. It seems that a local couple had also settled on it as their wedding reception venue, as there was a lot of activity out the back, and a large number of wedding guests milling around the bar.

The first pint was a familiar one from across the border, Moorhouse’s Brewery’s Pride of Pendle, full of caramel and malt.

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What to choose to eat when in an unfamiliar pub? Gammon of course, my “go to” dish when trying out a new pub. It was off to a good start before it even arrived, as it was to be accompanied by egg and pineapple. It should always be accompanied by both, never a choice of one or the other. Pineapple has a definite place in savoury dishes, and boo to all those pineapple haters out there (you know who you are). It was also to be accompanied by big fat chips and peas, the classic partners.

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As you can see, it was exactly as advertised, and was really nice. The only let down was the mustard, cheap stuff in a sachet which is never as good as something freshly made. Accompanied by a pint of Gale’s Seafarers Ale, now a Fuller’s beer.

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This was Blandy McBlandface. I swear it was better before they were taken over by Fuller’s but it’s been quite a few years since I had it, so the mind could be playing tricks.

A pleasant town centre pub, just a bit too popular on this particular Saturday night.

The Plank & Leggit, Sawley, July 2018

This is another of those occasions where we don’t get to choose the pub. We’d been out walking with friends around Shardlow and Castle Donington earlier in the day, and were due to meet more friends here early in the evening. We abandoned the second part of our walk due to the scorchio temperatures and headed to the pub early. Normally this is a cause for celebration. In the case of a Greene King “IPA” establishment, it’s a cause for lime and soda.

So we sat back with some refreshing not-beer, and planned some future walks whilst waiting for other friends to arrive. When they began to arrive, I headed to the bar to order food, and another tasty pint of lime and soda.

Tonight’s dinner was “Route 66”, a burger topped with cheese, BBQ pulled pork rib meat, 2 hash browns and a free-range fried egg. Reasonable fodder, nothing special. Enough to replace lost calories afer a warm walk in the heat of the day…

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Another of those pub visits where you know that all of the beer that you own has been looked after far better than the dull casks delivered here each week.

Craft Beer Co, Islington, June 2018 #2

Just a short fortnight ago since I was last here, and as it was pretty much on my route back to St Pancras, I decided to pop in for a little more refreshment on this beautiful sunny day.

The first glass of refreshment came in the form of Jubilee Anniversary Cucumber Pale Ale, a 4% cucumber pale ale from Rooster’s Brewing Co, which was very refreshing on a scorching London evening. The cucumber flavour is very subtle so don’t let that put you off. It’s almost a watermelon flavour.

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Staying with Rooster’s, there was also Helter Spelter, a 4.5% pale ale with subtle apricot tones, another nice summer beer.

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A great place to stop for a little refreshment before wandering down to catch the train home.

Brewhouse and Kitchen, Islington, June 2018 #2

A second visit this week. My course is over, and my train home isn’t for a few hours, so there’s time for dinner and a couple of beers as I wander my way through the streets of London from Old Street to St Pancras.

A couple of drinks to accompany dinner. First up, Britton, a 5% American Brown Ale brewed on site, a brown ale with good balance of malt and hops.

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I also had Chaplin, a 6% American IPA also brewed here on site. It’s sweet and malty, but your brown ale shouldn’t have more hop character than your IPA…

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After I had paid and ordered, they let me know about their secret offer where you could get three halves for a special price. Thanks for that.

Dinner next, chicken ham and leek pie with a dollop of mash and broccolini. It looks a bit uninspiring, but the pie was very tasty. There wasn’t really enough mash and the broccolini wasn’t cooked to perfection, a touch on the soggy side.

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A decent dinner though and enough to keep me going until I get back home later on.

The Bill Murray, Islington, June 2018

It’s Edinburgh preview season. And fortuitously I’m in London for work, although the fortune comes at a cost, five days of training and two exams, the second of which is two and a half hours long. I keep vowing to stop doing exams, and one day I will eventually keep that vow. This week however, I have a daily cycle of 20 minutes of sweaty tube journey, 90 minutes of learning, 15 minutes for a coffee, 90 minutes of learning, a sandwich in the park, 90 minutes of learning, 15 minutes for a coffee, 90 minutes of learning,  20 minutes of sweaty tube journey.

Anyway, on to the pub for a double bill of Edinburgh previews, a relaxing evening instead of doing mock exam papers. The Bill Murray is somewhere I’ve heard about quite a bit since I’m very much a follower of the live comedy “scene”. It’s a short-ish walk from Angel tube station (home to the UK’s longest escalator – one for you pub quiz fans).

Something that usually happens on these pub comedy nights is that you will bump into one or more of the acts at some point. This was in full effect tonight, as I followed opening act Sofie Hagen into the venue, and Mark Watson was hanging around at the interval before his set, and chatting with the audience. This is a proper preview experience, a small room in a pub, tiny stage, microphone, and a few lights. And the acts walk on from the back of the room, there’s no backstage area behind that curtain on the right hand side.

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On a warm night in London, a beer was needed to keep refreshed during the evening. Beer at comedy venues is generally pretty awful. The Soho Theatre try and break the mould by getting some reasonable cask ales in, but they need a crash course in how to look after cask ale, since it almost always suffers from mistreatment. And the way that the bar staff treat the beer engine, you’d think it was a piece of gym equipment with 50kg on the end of it. And they certainly don’t embrace the sparkler.

So it was a nice surprise to find a St Mungo from Glasgow’s WEST brewery, who produce all of their lagers and wheat beers in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot, the German Purity Law. A Munich style lager with a sweetness to it, and one of the best comedy venue beers that I’ve had. That is damning with faint praise, but it was good.

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As was the comedy. Sofie Hagen is trying out material for her 2019 Edinburgh show (nothing like being prepared), so the set was a proper tour through random bits and pieces that may or may not form a show one day. Mark Watson will be in Edinburgh in August (and likely touring after that), so his show was much more polished, although it got a bit derailed by someone finding a folder for him to balance his wine glass on (you had to be there). The show covers a few topics, but there is much about family and his recent-ish divorce. If I were in Edinburgh I’d be going to see the finished version, and hopefully we will catch it in Leicester or somewhere else local next year.

Brewhouse and Kitchen, Islington, June 2018

A night off from revision and reading. My destination later on is The Bill Murray, a popular comedy pub venue in Islington. Before that I need some food and drink, so I thought I would pop in to Brewhouse and Kitchen, Islington, as it’s somewhere that I wandered past last month when I was at City University.

There was football on around the periphery of the pub, but no-one was that interested in it, so it’s another to add to the list of “not football venues” which you can watch the match in peace in.

First up, some Westwood Pale, brewed here on site, an American pale that’s a clean, hoppy, tropical and modern pale. Lovely easy drinking beer.

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I also had a Great Eastern India Pale Ale from Redchurch Brewery, a lovely well rounded IPA, full of balance. And they haven’t skimped on the pale either!

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Dinner was a pan seared red snapper fillet with coconut and coriander rice, bean sprouts, sugar snap peas, fresh sweetcorn salsa and a soy dressing.

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As there was still plenty of time before the comedy started down the road, I had time for another, in the form of Hot Black Desiato, a milk stout also brewed here on site. As you might expect, it was sweet and creamy.

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A nice little place, and I think I’ll come back here for dinner on Friday evening as I have some time between the end of my exams and my train home.