The Sultan of Keswick, January 2019

It’s the end of our Lakes holiday. The weather has been very kind to us, seven walks and seven more Wainwrights added to our total, which now stands at 123, with 91 to go. We’ve completed book 6, the North Western Fells.

As it’s a Friday night, we’re having curry as usual, and treating ourselves to a takeaway. Regular readers will know that we very rarely eat in at a curry house as they just don’t have anything that we would like to drink. The beer and cider that we have bought from local shops is way better than what’s on offer here, so our #tryanuary adventure is continuing at home tonight after a couple of nights out down the pub.

In keeping with the spirit of #tryanuary, we’re trying a new curry house, The Sultan of Keswick. We usually go to Lakeland Spice Cuisine, so we decided to take a chance on this one. The first thing you notice is that the price is much higher than everywhere else in town, even with a 20% discount for takeaways.

I went for one of my usual selections when trying out a new curry house, chicken shatkora, a chicken curry with small pieces of a citrus fruit known sometimes as a wild orange. I love the sourness of this fruit with the richness of a curry sauce, but tonight there was an enormous lack of fruit, although plenty of chicken. And lots of spiciness, probably the spiciest shatkora that I’ve ever had.

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It was accompanied by a lovely naan bread. Overall, it was not bad, but I don’t think it’s better than our usual haunt.

On to that #tryanuary bit. I like a spot of IPA with my curry, and this Eden River Brew Co “Yakama” was full of dry and fruity bitterness, lovely west coast stylings. Very tasty stuff, one of their best, up with Amber Rocket.

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If you think that Eden River Brew Co sound a bit familiar, it’s because until last summer they were known as “Eden Brewery”, changing to something more “craft-oriented” (their words) to get them recognised outside of Cumbria. I’ve been drinking their beer before they were trendy 🙂

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Quiz night at The Pack Horse Inn, Keswick, January 2019 #tryanuary

Our fourth visit to the Pack Horse quiz night. On our last three visits, we’ve won every time. What happened to “My Pointless Friend Richard” tonight? Find out later.

Today we climbed Whiteside, our 120th Wainwright. It was one of the trickier ones, very much a straight up and down visit, and it took quite a bit of effort. A good feed was required, and a decent home made burger and a pile of chips was just what the doctor (me, definitely not a doctor) ordered.

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The burger was fantastic. You’ve read this from me many times already, but when properly done, a decent burger is hard to beat. Really tasty beef, extra tangy cheddar and some proper English mustard. Big fat chips which were crunchy on the outside and fluffy in the middle. A decent salad and some dressing too, not just a pile of limp iceberg (the excuse for salad that I usually moan about).

The only fly in the ointment was the lack of a plate, a silly bread board having taken its place. To be fair to them, they would have needed a decent sized plate to accommodate this tasty portion.

On to the #tryanuary bit. I was hoping to taste a new beer from Robinsons who own this pub. They have made over 150 different beers but this doesn’t seem to be a market where they are wanting to test anything new, as they always seem to have the same ones on. So it was Double Hop and Dizzy Blonde, which still hasn’t been rebranded, despite this being announced back in May 2018.

On to the quiz bit. For the first time, we lost. Beaten by our neighbours, a table of 8 which felt like a bit of an unfair fight, but we were well and truly thrashed. We shall return to reclaim our crown another day.

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.

Ocean Prime, Denver, November 2018

This is one of those “save the best until last” moments. The conference that I’ve been attending is nearly over, just a few more sessions tomorrow morning. Tonight, we are “out out” and some new friends have chosen Ocean Prime, a small chain that has restaurants in 10 states.

The name comes from its surf’n’turf combination of seafood and steak. Steak restaurants are ten a penny, so I’m definitely after some fish tonight. Which is just as well, as there’s plenty to choose from, including Colorado bass, salmon, halibut, ahi tuna, Florida grouper, lobster, sea scallops, cakes and Chilean sea bass. The steaks look good, but it’s got to be fish.

Which to choose though? The halibut looked interesting but a cauliflower puree didn’t seem to be a pleasant accompaniment. The Colorado bass had the most interestingly named accompaniment in “corn spoon bread” (so called because you scoop it with a spoon). In the end, the teryaki salmon with shiitake sticky rice and soy butter sauce won.

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What a great choice it was. Sweet, sticky and slightly smoky. A lovely piece of fish, and by far the best thing I’ve eaten since I’ve been here. Lovely and fresh and perfectly cooked.

There was also a turn on, playing rock and pop covers from the 80s, 90s and some 2000s. The Mark Diamond Duo are regulars here, and their background music made a nice change from the endless sports that have been screening everywhere else.

All of these things add up to a lovely evening out.

A little aside to finish with. One of our party, from Florida, disappeared for quite a while after they had finished their dinner. It turned out that they had been out to buy some “herbal cigarettes”, as Colorado is one of the ten states where the recreational use of cannabis is legal.

Hyatt Regency, Denver, October 2018

My home for the week, but this is going to be the only post about it, because apart from sleeping here and meeting a few people before dispersing elsewhere, it’s not somewhere we’ve chosen to eat or drink.

Meetings two and three today were here, with a briefing from a super-global-mega-corp (revenue in 2018, $40 billion) who decided that they could manage to buy one drink for their guests, alongside a few bowls of crisps (well, tortilla chips, since despite their president’s dislike of Mexico, they sure do like their Mexican dishes).

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This Odell IPA was a lovely bit of bitterness. Looking back through my Untappd history, I spotted that I’d had an Odell imperial porter way back in December 2014. I was not far away from their tap room the other day, but I didn’t get time to stop by. They seem to have found their way into plenty of downtown drinking establishments, a real Colorado success story.

Since I won’t get another post about it, a quick few words on the Hyatt. It’s incredibly convenient for the Colorado Convention Centre, spanning 14th and 15th Street. Apart from that, there’s not much else really going for it. I had several issues with my bookings (one corporate, one personal), starting on arrival on Saturday night. The last thing you want when you step off a plane and into a hotel is to have hassle about the credit card used to pay for your room.

That’s what I got. Due to a timing issue, the card used to pay for most of the booking (not mine) was declined. So I had to authorise a payment on my own card before I could check in. They seemed to view me as some kind of criminal. Then, when a new authorisation was sent across today, they apparently couldn’t open the PDF file, and wanted it faxing across. Faxing. In 2018.

Interesting that I managed to open the same PDF file, and print it, on their “airport check in” PC kiosks (they hadn’t realised that you can open a new tab in the browser and just use any page on the web). All in all, not the greatest of customer service experiences.

Edit : a few days later and this did all get sorted out, but it took way too long.

Edit 2 : on checking out on the Saturday, they tried to charge me for a breakfast, or several, on Sunday morning. I didn’t eat anything from the hotel bars/restaurants, so they said it would be sorted. I had paid for the last night myself.

Edit 3 : my credit card bill has arrived. The breakfast charge is still there. I have contacted them to query this.

Edit 4 : they have sent me a new bill. It contains the $47.20 breakfast charge for a breakfast or breakfasts that I didn’t have. Another e-mail, increasingly snotty, has been fired off.

Edit 5 : no explanation, no apology, but they have finally refunded the spurious breakfast charge. It is now December.

Renaissance Hotel, Denver, October 2018

Another quick post from Denver. As I’ve already mentioned, I’m here with the day job, which is in full flow today, with four different meetings in three different places downtown. Most of the day will be spent at the Renaissance, a Denver hotel that was built inside the former Colorado National Bank. During the renovation, they added two new floors to the building, whilst retaining most of its features, including the three-story atrium with classical marble colonnades and 16 large murals depicting the life of Native Americans on the plains. Three of the bank’s massive vaults were also retained, including the basement meeting room where we are spending some of the day. The thought of doing some kind of Ocean’s 11 re-enactment did cross our mind.

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The coffee was a bit ropey, but the buffet lunch (chicken legs, vol au vents, cheesecake) was not too bad, with some nice pizza (still warm from the oven), braised chicken breast and some salad and other bits.

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A nice hotel for a meeting, and it’s cool to explore all of the old bank vault bits and pieces. Oh, and they also had small TV screens inset into the mirrors in the toilets so you could watch ESPN Sports News (or whatever the equivalent of Sky Sports News is) whilst you wash your hands. Yes, they really did have those.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, California Street, Denver, October 2018

Another day, another chain restaurant. A seafood chain this time, and a few more people have gathered in Denver now, so we opted just to cross the road and go here. I can see it from my hotel room, so it was pretty inevitable.

As you might expect, there’s a lot of shrimp on the menu, but that’s not really my thing. Most of it is breaded and deep fried too. There’s also tilapia, salmon and mahi mahi. Alongside that there’s steak and ribs and a burger. I had the Texas chicken sandwich, deep fried chicken breast (super crispy batter), bacon, cheese, guacamole, chilli ancho mayo and fries. Oh and some limp shredded iceberg. And a nice tangy pickled gherkin. It was pretty good stuff.

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Another decent selection of beer, fast becoming a thing here in downtown Denver. My choice was Trail Beer by 10 Barrel Brewing Co, from Bend, Oregon. It was a tasty pale ale with notes of citrus and pine, and went nicely with the chicken. Later on, I discovered that this was another AB InBev beer, one of the portfolio of things that they’ve spent the last few years gobbling up.

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A decent dinner once more, in slightly odd neon tinged surroundings.