The Bon Accord, Glasgow, November 2018

A pub that I know well from a Facebook group about whisky. A pub that former MOFAD drinking companion Bruce has been to many times. Former, as he fled back to the Shaky Isles 6 months ago, but he will be back for a short trip next year, so I’m sure we will raise a pint again. Members of that group frequent this pub. So when I found out a couple of weeks ago that I would be in Glasgow on business for 24 hours, and that my hotel was just a few minutes away from the pub, there was only one place I was coming for dinner tonight.

I only just got here in time, a few minutes before the kitchen was due to close. Luckily I’d already looked at the menu online, so I knew exactly what I was having, and ordered that and some drinks. I don’t have steak and chips as much as I used to, so when I do I want it to be good.

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It was good. The use of fries over the traditional fat chip might raise a few eyebrows, but it worked well here. Lovely bit of beefy business, nicely rare as requested. A good splodge of mustard was all the accompaniment that was required. There was even pudding (in the shape of that slice of orange peeking out from underneath the steak).

Another stroke of fortune was that there was football on, so I watched Scotland beat Israel 3-2 thanks to a James Forrest hat-trick. Watching a great game amongst passionate Glaswegians was a great expereience. Drinking well kept beer was also good. With a decent amount of cask ale, I made my own flight of a number of halves including Merchant City American pale (nice hoppiness and tea fruitiness), Ekuantot from Peerless (gentle pithiness), and Blackthorn Sloe Porter from the ever familiar Settle Brewery.

There’s also handy signage in case you get lost…

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Swally is “a swallow of” aka a drink.

A lovely night in a lovely pub. Definitely recommended.

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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!

Rheged Centre, Redhills, Cumbria, January 2018

When is Tebay services not Tebay services? When it’s the Rheged Centre, which is operated by the same people and looks almost identical in many ways.

Rheged is one of the largest visitor attractions ever to open in Cumbria, an all weather, all year round visitor centre that is situated in Britain’s largest grass covered building. It has a six storey high cinema screen, the biggest 3D cinema screen in the northwest. There are a selection of cafes offering fresh food with a distinct Cumbrian flavour made using the best local ingredients, including lamb and beef from Rheged’s farm. There are 9 individual shops within Rheged who aim to include the best of the region, its activities, crafts people and food producers, and offer a varied collection of gift ideas both from Cumbria and further afield.

Rheged was one of the kingdoms of the Hen Ogledd (“Old North”), the Brittonic-speaking region of northern England and southern Scotland, during the post-Roman era and early middle ages. It is recorded in several poetic and bardic sources, although its borders are not described in any of them. Some modern scholars have suggested that it included Cumbria and possibly extended into Lancashire and Scotland. Its inhabitants spoke Cumbric, a Brittonic dialect closely related to Old Welsh. There’s your history lesson.

Today we were here because the pub was shut and the weather was awful. We took a detour from where our walk had finished because we knew that Rheged would be open and serving warm food. We needed warm food.

We got warm food.

Mrs MOFAD had a tasty soup du jour and I had an interesting interpretation of a steak sandwich. It should really be served on a big chunk of bloomer, this kind of wrap thing is not what I call a steak sandwich. The steak was good, the lambs lettuce was welcome (much better than sad iceberg). The pre-crumbled stilton was also a bit strange. A decent lunch, with some odd bits. It was warm and warmed us up.

We then went wandering off around the shops and bought some more local produce (beer) to take home.

The Rheged Centre is not convenient for any walks in the area, but it is very handy if you are nearby with your car and there’s no pub…

The Angel Inn, Wangford, Suffolk, October 2016

Pub quiz night! As you’ll know by now, we do like a pub quiz. We haven’t done very many this year so the opportunity to take on another one was most welcome. What is a holiday without a pub quiz after all? To be sure of our place we booked a table in advance so that we could eat first and ensure we were in tip top condition for quizzing.

Here comes the first shock of the night. The Angel Inn is not an Adnams pub. I repeat, not an Adnams pub. This is proof that there are a few pubs in Suffolk that the Adnams mafia haven’t got their claws into 🙂

This means that for the first time this week, I’ve been able to order a non-Adnams beer in a pub. This was an Otter Ale, from Devon, something I’ve had before, but in pre-Untappd days so not for a few years. It’s a classic malty English bitter with caramel notes. Very nice.

We ordered our dinners and sat back and waited for them to arrive. Their were a few other diners around too, all enjoying the relaxed atmosphere. Matt & I ordered steaks, Mrs MOFAD and Hazel chose chicken & mushroom pies. Two steaks arrived soon afterwards. This was mine.

Or so I thought! A mix up with our neighbours’ table meant that we got their steaks, and Matt had just sprinkled some salt on the chips before this was spotted and rectified, with the plates moving a few feet to our right. So around 5 minutes later, our dinner arrived. As you can see, presentation is pretty consistent:-

The taste was good too. I ordered rare as usual and it was cooked to perfection, although Matt’s medium-rare was very much on the medium side. Classic accompaniments of tomato, mushroom and peas and good home-made chips. A pub classic done well.

The pies were also good, a proper, complete pie, not just a dish with a lid of pastry. We did have to question Hazel’s alleged northern credentials though, as she was not putting gravy on her pie and chips.

As we were staying for the pub quiz, we decided to have some more food and drink. We cross over the border to Norwich for this Woodforde’s Wherry, another one that I’ve had before, a nice smooth session bitter.

As I keep on saying, a chocolate pudding is always the correct choice, and this was indeed the case tonight. A lovely dense chocolate mousse, rich and intense, complemented by the creamy white chocolate pieces, and offset by the tartness of the physalis (also known as the cape gooseberry, although it’s from the nightshade family). Tasty tasty chocolate.

All that was left was the pub quiz.

Except it wasn’t. Not enough people had turned up, so there was no pub quiz. Despondent, we trooped out and went home to drink beer instead. A good pub with good food and beer, certainly worth a visit.

The Flower Pots, Cheriton, September 2016

A classic sleepy village pub in Hampshire.

We were camping down the road (a familiar story over the summer time) and given there were very few facilities on the camp site, pub dinners were in order. We don’t really need an excuse to go to the pub for dinner as you know, but let’s just say that’s what it was 🙂

The Flower Pots is a classic little village pub. You’re not going to get people drinking out of jam jars with straws, or things served on slates, bread boards, skateboards or anything other than a sensible plate or bowl.

Beer is served directly from the barrel which are all racked behind the bar. No pumps, no sparklers, no nothing. Straight from barrel to pint glass. Oh, and they have their own brewery too. So there are no beer miles here, just beer yards as the barrels are transported across the car park from brewery to pub. Lots to choose from too.

I started with Perridge Pale, a light and hoppy delight to refresh the weary traveller.

As you might expect, there are also ciders available and Mrs MOFAD enjoyed a couple of these.

Time for another round before dinner arrives, this Gyle 1500 red ale. When a beer tells me it has 15 hops, I’m going straight for it. Sadly I couldn’t find the evidence of these 15 hops (as a lover of the hop), but it was a nice red ale which worked well with dinner. Let’s move on to that.

This is an uncomplicated place, and that’s reflected in the menu. All food is freshly prepared and they will even stop taking orders for a bit if they can’t get them out in a reasonable time. Simple food done well isn’t something we see enough of in places like this, so it’s always nice when you encounter it.

There were several stews on offer (so easy to do and so tasty when you get it right). Mrs MOFAD had one of those, and dining (& camping) companions Chris & Caroline also did. The stews were very tasty indeed, and the garlic bread accompaniment was also well endowed with garlic.

There was another option on the menu, which echoes my sentiment about simple things done well. Steak and chips. No messing around with trying to get you to pay another 2 pounds for a peppercorn sauce, onion rings, or some garnish. Just simple steak and chips. Meat from a local butcher. Simple, brilliant. It was delicious.

We stayed on to drink some more and play some card games. A pint of Goodens Gold was a good and hoppy golden ale.

What a lovely pub. Simple food done well. Great beer brewed just yards from the pub. Dog friendly (we met several nice dogs). No bookings, just turn up. Food is served 12:00-1:45 every day, and 7-8:45 Monday to Saturday (no food Sunday evenings). Wednesday night is an exception, where curry is served from 6:30-8:45

Recommended!

Return to The Alma, Wandsworth

A return visit to this lovely little London pub. As with the previous visit, I was staying at the Holiday Inn Express just over the other side of the railway.

Tonight’s visit had three purposes.

  1. Something to drink
  2. Something to eat
  3. Watch the Europa League final between Liverpool and Sevilla

Let’s start with (1), which started with a Pumphouse Pale Ale, from Sambrook’s brewery, just one stop down the line in Battersea. This was a delicious pale ale with hoppy notes and a hint of biscuit. Add some more hops and it could be a world beater.

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We relaxed into the evening, bagging a good seat with a view of the projector screen ready for later. Dinner was ordered, another pint arrived. This was a Young’s Special which is a malty bitter, which went well with dinner…

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That dinner was this delicious rump steak. Sometimes, you just can’t beat the classics.

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A rare rump steak, with shoestring fries, lambs leaf lettuce, a fried mushroom and tomato, with garlic butter on top. There was also some perfect English mustard on the side – an essential with steak! It was utterly delicious and devoured with vigour.

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Another drink to accompany the football, this Young’s Bitter was very tasty, but could not take away the bitter taste of defeat, as Sevilla won the game 3-1, in a classic game of two halves, with Liverpool dominating in the first half, and then forgetting to turn up for the second.

Lovely to be back at this lovely London pub with its wooden floors, lots of wooden panelling, a bright and airy dining room at the back and a tiled finish on the outside. Last time I said I hoped to come back and try the food, and I’m glad I did. Great pub. MOFAD approved!

The Horse, Shepshed, September 2015

A pub that we have passed numerous times in its previous guise as The White Horse. Situated on the A512 which links the M1 to the A42 (and then M42, road fans), it is on our usual route to Birmingham or the south west. It’s also on a walking route that we use a few times.

In its previous guise, it never looked all that inviting or welcoming, so we never went in. In 2014 the pub was taken over by a new team who changed things around, making changes to the bar and restaurant areas with greater emphasis on the restaurant side of things.

In April 2015 The Horse re-opened with an extension, almost doubling the original size of the pub, using local contemporary stone and light oak beams to give a fresh feel. There is also a feature fireplace with wood burning stove for the cooler months.

Tonight was our first visit to the newly refurbished pub, after a little walk in the area. We grabbed a table and then ordered. A pint of Ausome IPA from Nene Valley brewery for me, hoppy and sweet, it was a very nice IPA, a limited edition brew apparently.

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Dinner soon arrived, in the form of this very tasty steak, a rare ribeye served with triple cooked chips, roast vine tomatoes, mushroom, watercress and pink peppercorn sauce.

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It was a great example of steak and chips, a simple dish that works so well when you get it right, but which is a dog’s dinner if you get it wrong. Here it was oh so right. The peppery watercress works with the peppery sauce, and the acidity of the tomatoes cuts through the richness of the sauce. A lovely dinner.

The newly renovated Horse is a great pub, relaxed and comfortable for the casual diner, but with something to offer if you want a more formal dining experience. Recommended!