Coach House Cafe, Rufford Abbey Country Park, Nottinghamshire, April 2018

We want plates. Today was the perfect example of why. On to the that in a moment.

We were in the area doing a few bits and pieces and decided to stop here for lunch and then maybe a bit of a wander around the grounds. It’s certainly worth staying a while to get value for money from the car park fee 🙂

So, on to plates. As you can see, the food below is served on a silly slate, not a plate. If you look closely, you might spot three halves of panino. Two of those halves are from the second attempt at making one. The other half is from the first attempt, and its counterpart never made it onto the slate, slipping down on to the floor with great speed. A plate would likely have stopped this, saving the cafe time and money, and the person who dropped it embarassment. The hungry customer (me) did rather well, as I got 50% extra free.

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The moral of this story is very definitely to use plates to serve up your tasty ham and cheese panino (it was very tasty indeed), because then you don’t waste money. The large thimble of coleslaw wasn’t much to write home about, but the rest was very nice.

A good place for a spot of lunch, just a shame that the weather didn’t hold out so that we could explore more of the grounds…

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The Royal Oak, Keswick, December 2017

We are back at the Royal Oak again, always a reliable pub. Tonight’s festivities began with a festive beer, a Thirst Nöel by Keswick Brewing Company, full of sweet maltiness and good with food.

O hai! Predictable guy! Yes, it’s the half roast chicken and chips again for me, and it’s nice to see it served on a plate this time rather than in the stupid wooden greenhouse tray that they used last time we were here. I think they are trying to go for a classier image instead of that hipster nonsense. The food was still very tasty, although I think the salad was nicer 18 months ago (although there could be some seasonality in that).

A nice pub with a nice atmosphere and always good food.

Siskins Cafe, Whinlatter forest, Cumbria, December 2017

Another in the long line of “quick lunchtime posts”. We are out and about once more, exploring the fells around the Whinlatter forest. If you’re going to pay the Forestry Commission’s eye-watering car park charges (8 quid a day, hence the credit card machine attached to the parking meter) then you really need to spend as much time here as possible to get your money’s worth.

Too cold for a picnic on a day like today, so a spot of lunch was in order. There’s a good size cafe on site (tables outside for the warmer months too) and they are of course fully geared up for dealing with muddy walkers and mountain bikers, so muddy boots are no problem. They are open from 10-5 pretty much every day.

A decent selection of cafe style food on the menu, the usual sandwiches and panini, jacket potatoes, pies, quiches etc.

I had the festive panino special, turkey, brie, bacon and cranberry and it was rather delicious. And what an interesting and varied salad selection. A few thin slices of melon, a little bit of pasta salad, a little bit of rice salad, a little bit of coleslaw, a little bit of mediterranean veg, a little bit of cous cous salad, some carrot, some cress and just to let the side down, sad iceberg. Overall though, a very interesting bit on the side.

Mrs MOFAD had similar with her tuna mayo jacket potato:-

A great place to stop for some lunch, nicely priced and very well presented. Good service too. It’s nice that although they’ve got a captive audience they’ve made a lot of effort to do some decent food.

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 sautĂ©ed 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.

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.