Kro bar, Oxford Road, Manchester, November 2017

A return visit to Kro bar, but a first visit for Mrs MOFAD. We’ve both been to Manchester separately, but this weeked was the first time we’ve been here together. Shortly after this, we are off to the Apollo for Hacienda Classical, which is exactly what it sounds like. A full orchestra playing some classic dance tracks from the glory days of the Hacienda, with Graeme Park and Mike Pickering on the decks.

Before that though, dinner, and Kro bar was perfectly situated halfway between our hotel and the venue, so we went there after my recommendation from previous visits. Nothing appears to have changed in the last 2 years, which is a good things as far as I’m concerned.

We started at the bar and ordered some drinks, a Mango Cider from Lilley’s Cider for Mrs MOFAD (sweet and easy drinking):-

and a pint of Our Town by Brightside Brewing Company for me, a bitter and hoppy ale with Columbus hops:-

On to dinner. Plenty of things to choose from, small plates to start, various hot sandwiches, Danish dogs (as in sausage, not actual dog), “Danwiches” (open sandwiches), burgers (although the schnitzel burger from my last visit has gone), salads, meat or fish platters, fish’n’chips and more. Mrs MOFAD opted for salmon and prawn papardelle, a creamy sauce with smoked salmon, prawns, peas and fresh dill served over pasta ribbons.

My choice was the Schnitzel, a breaded pork escalope served on sautéed potatoes
and topped with a fried egg and beetroot.

This was a good schnitzel, just like last time. Crisp on the outside, soft in the middle, with the sautéed potatoes following suit. A bit more salad might have been good, but a few good leaves did the job (no limp iceberg here). A decent dinner, and I’ll probably be back next year for my next Manchester trip.

The gig was brilliant, as you might expect.

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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.

Pizza Express, Loughborough, October 2017

Another quick pizza post as a result of another night out at the cinema with regular cinema and dining companions Karon & John. It’s always a bit tricky to judge which of the various restaurants to choose when you’re on the clock. We thought that pizza would be a safe bet, because once you’ve made it up it cooks pretty quickly. Were we right? Find out in a moment.

My choice tonight was pizza campana, a current special featuring crumbled pork & fennel sausage, friarielli (a kind of Italian broccoli leaf), tomato, garlic oil and mozzarella, finished with Gran Milano cheese and parsley.

It was a nice pizza, good to have something a bit different for once. We also shared a standard side salad, which is ok, just rather uninspiring.

Pizza Express have not upped their beer game since last time, so I opted for the Belvoir (pronounced beaver if you’re not from round here) ginger beer, a lovely and refreshing ginger beer (non-alcoholic).

So did they manage to get our dinners out in time? No. The trailers had nearly finished by the time we had got out and in to the cinema.

Tonight’s film was Kingsman : The Golden Circle which was a really good fun action romp, the perfect action nonsense antidote to one of the busiest weeks of work I’ve ever known.

The Narrowboat #1, Skipton, September 2017

After a gentle bimble around Skipton this afternoon we wandered back to the hotel and then back out again for dinner. We’ve booked a table somewhere for tomorrow night (a lesson learned from 2015) but tonight we just decided to wander until we found somewhere. We didn’t take long to find our dinner destination, settling on The Narrowboat, which we’d visited as part of 2015’s walking tour of Skipton.

The first reason for visiting was because I had spotted Hawkshead’s Passion Fruit Gose on the bar. Mrs MOFAD has been looking out for this beer since it was first announced, and we missed it at this year’s Thornbridge Peakender (along with many other great beers which came and went in the blink of an eye). It looked like it was finally time to try it.

So near, and yet so far. I’d ordered it at the bar, but the last few drops dribbled out of the keg. The pub let Mrs MOFAD have it for nothing (to compensate for the sadness), and she had to choose something else. Pogo by Wild Beer Co is fruit salad with a little hop character.

My first was Sorachi by Bristol Beer Factory, a decent cask ale but for me the Sorachi Ace hop was too muted. It’s a Marmite hop but I love its flavour which is why I was looking for more here.

A gentle golden ale next, in the form of Mallisons American SIPA. A decent pint but nothing to really excite.

Just in case you weren’t sure that we were in the North. Chips and gravy. Northern gravy. Although sadly Hazel’s pie had to go back, as during the likely reheating they had burned it rather badly, and it was inedible. It was eventually replaced with pizza, but they didn’t refund the difference.

No such problems with my pizza which they got right first time. A porky fest with bacon, sausage, pulled pork and black pudding.

Black pudding is northern filth, so it was distributed to other plates… Apart from the filth, this was a tasty, porky and crisp pizza, just what I wanted on a Friday night. If that wasn’t good enough, then Mrs MOFAD was even more delighted, as they had found some more Passion Fruit Gose. Her review was simple:-

“OMG. Best. Beer. Ever.”

Fairly clear cut.

My final pint tonight was Citra Star from Northumberland’s Anarchy Brew Co, one that I’ve had before in a can, and it’s even better on cask.

A shame that they burnt the pie, and didn’t really sort the situation out properly, but we did all eventually have a nice dinner and some great beer.

The Crown, Coniston, June 2017

We got here eventually. It wasn’t our planned dinner destination, but as we toured around a few pubs, there was a lack of space in one (we did have a table but as we hadn’t made a reservation we couldn’t be served), and a lack of things that Mrs MOFAD wanted to eat in another.

There were a few tables available here, so we grabbed one, grabbed some menus and sat down to peruse. Moments later I was off to the bar to order, 2 pizzas and a salad. I do like a pub pizza when they do it well. As The Crown also acts as the pizza takeaway outlet for the whole village, I had high hopes.

Pub pizza is not a derogatory term, more a reference to the type of pizza you find in pubs. It’s not going to be an authentic crispy base sourdough pizza, but more like the kind of pizza that we grew up on in the 1980s. That’s not a bad thing though. I have fond memories of some 80s pizzas.

These hopes took a slight dashing just a few minutes later when someone arrived from the kitchen to explain that my choice of pizza (crispy duck #obvs) wasn’t available, so I had to choose a new pizza. This was duly done and we sat back to enjoy our drinks and wait. A pint of Socks and Sandals for me, a new one from Robinsons (whose pub this is). A smooth and bitter pale ale, not an IPA as described, but a decent rye ale. Mrs MOFAD had Timmermans Strawberry, which turned out to be too sweet for accompanying a savoury dish.

Soon afterwards, the pizzas arrived, along with our salad. And good pub pizzas they were. Mine was a twist on a Hawaiian with added pulled pork. Because everyone likes to add pulled pork nowadays. Lots of cheesey goodness and a doughy base.

The side salad was somewhat of a let down. Not so many leaves and drowned in lots of dressing.

No pudding tonight, we will earn those over the coming days. A decent pub with a decent pizza, definitely worth a visit if you’re in Coniston.

Low Sizergh Barn, Cumbria, June 2017

We are in the Lakes again. This will come as a suprise to no-one as we’ve been coming here every June since 2007 (and other summer trips before that too). We are off to Coniston this year, for the first time since 2011, staying in the same cottage (ground floor apartment). There are 2 potential routes, and both of them would take in Low Sizergh Barn, which is our usual winter trip lunch stop, so we stopped here for lunch today.

A bit quieter than when we pitch up for lunch in December, but still very busy, because it is such a popular place. We popped upstairs for lunch, and ordered some lunch. An “open” ham and chutney sandwich for me, which was perfectly pleasant but didn’t really feel like a sandwich, rather just some bits of bread with meat on top. Accompanied by the usual interesting salad.

A nice little lunch stop, and we nipped downstairs for a bit of shopping before continuing our journey. It would appear that the raw milk that had been suspended from sale due to health and safety issues earlier in the year is back on sale again. Thanks, but no thanks. That Louis Pasteur knew what he was doing.

(Edit : August 2017 – having passed this today, it would appear that they are going to put in a right hand turn from the west bound A591, so you might no longer have to detour along the A590 and down the back roads to get here if travelling from the M6!)

National Trust Cafe, Longshaw Estate, April 2017

A soggy Easter Sunday. We had plans for a certain walk today, but conditions were not conducive to this, so we adapted our plans, and decided to head over to the Longshaw Estate for lunch, and then head out to Carl Wark fort and Higger Tor. Free parking (as we are National Trust members) is always an attraction!

As it was Easter Sunday, it was absolutely packed inside the cafe, but we managed to spot a family leaving their table at the back and quickly swooped in to grab it. The cafe itself is a little confused, as it also doubles as a shop. This means that valuable table space (particularly on a busy bank holiday weekend) is wasted by island display units selling standard NT toys and tat.  It needs a bit of a rethink.

On to lunch. After queuing up for a bit, we were expecting a bit of a wait for food, but it turned up pretty speedily. Mrs MOFAD ordered a jacket potato with tuna mayo, and I went for the safe option of a ploughmans.

Reasonably priced, it was a nice little lunch and a reasonably decent interpretation of a ploughmans. The ham was tasty, some decent leaves (no limp iceberg in sight) and home made coleslaw (not too much onion). The rest of the usual salad items were missing though, no tomatoes, no pickled onion (Mrs MOFAD was thankful for this), no apple.

Although I do have a question. Why grated cheese? This is the first time I think I’ve seen this on a ploughmans. It should be a nice chunk of cheese – grated cheese makes it much harder to eat! You have to mash it on to your fork so that you can get it into your mouth.

Apart from that oddity, a decent and speedy lunch. We were also treated to a surprise visit from MOFAD companions, Hazel, Matt, Kerrie & Andy, who we spent the day with yesterday. Kerrie’s window licking upon departure was a sight to behold.

If you’re having a day out at Longshaw or nearby, this is a good little place for lunch or tea and cake.