Buxton Brewery Tap, April 2017

We’ve been here before. In May 2015 to be precise. Ever since that visit we’ve been wanting to come back. It took almost 2 years, but we made it 🙂

After a leisurely morning of strolling around Buxton, including a little shopping at Beer District, we were ready for some lunch. There was only ever going to be one place we were going to go. I had been singing the praises of Buxton Brewery Tap for a while, and with MOFAD drinking companions Matt & Steve as well as Mrs MOFAD, Hazel, Janette and Andy and Kerrie all in tow, I was hoping that there would be something for everyone here.

There was.

My choice was Myrica, a tasty session IPA with oaty smoothness and hazy hoppiness

Mrs MOFAD opted for the Sky Mountain Sour, a collaboration between Buxton and To Øl which has resulted in a nicely balanced sour ale. Mrs MOFAD was a fan of this.

Matt & Steve both had a Rednik Stout which was right up their street. Kerrie tried the Lemon Meringue Pie, which both Mrs MOFAD and I really like. She was not a fan, but surprisingly Hazel (the queen of tea who is not a beer drinker) liked it, and ended up with a bottle to take home.

On to that lunch, I had a buffalo burger with potato wedges, which was very tasty and a perfect portion for lunch. Mrs MOFAD opted for chicken souvlaki, marinated in yoghurt, mustard, lemon & oregano and served with sautéed peppers, tzatziki, sunblush salad & pitta breads. This which was also very nice. My burger came from the specials board, so it might not be available when you visit. Perhaps plates will be though, as this burger appeared on a board.

On then to the shopping. You can’t come here and not take away a bottle or two. Or ten. You’ll spot the “Belgians” on the left, a Bourbon Skyline (barrel aged Berliner weisse), another Sky Mountain Sour and Lemon Meringue Pie for Mrs MOFAD, a Trolltunga (just another gooseberry sour IPA), a Superluminal (sour IPA) and one more.

That last one is Bomba Generation 4, the sequel to Tsar Bomba Generation III which was almost beer of the year for me in 2016. Generation 4 of the Buxton Brett fermented Imperial Stout has been born. The yeast strain from 1978 is alive and well and has chewed relentlessly through the regular Russian Imperial Stout to bring us the Great Grandson of the original batch. This one will go into storage for a while, and come out on a special occasion. If it’s as good as Generation III then it will be rather special.

Matt & Steve also did some shopping, although none of us could convince the nice people behind the bar to thrown in a free glass, despite the amount that we were all spending…

Another great trip to the Buxton Brewery Tap. If you are ever in Buxton, go there. You will find good food and great beer to drink in and take away. End of.

Walmgate Ale House, York, April 2017

Another place that was on our “to go” list for York. Walmgate Ale House and Bistro is housed in a 17th century listed building on Walmgate. It was originally opened in 2001, as Melton’s Too, by Michael and Lucy Hjort. Their family has owned and run businesses in York since 1990. Before the Hjort family took over the building, it was owned by Ellerker’s. From 1795, Ellerker’s sold saddles, harnesses and rope. Ellerker’s was commissioned to make the hangman’s nooses for York Prison (now York Castle Museum). This led to the phrase “For me there is no hope – was Ellerker’s made this rope.”

Walmgate Ale House and Bistro has kept the horse’s head at the front of the building from the Ellerker’s days as a symbol of pride in the building’s heritage. The interior also reflects the history of the building with ropes, saddles and old photographs from the days of Ellerker’s.

Downstairs is the bar area, and you wait at the bottom of the stairs to be shown to tables upstairs in the restaurant area. There was a table free (we hadn’t booked) and so we were taken upstairs and sat down to order. I had a pint of Flummoxed Farmer by Ainsty Ales, a good session pale ale, hoppy and bitter, but light.

Mrs MOFAD had Yorkshire Cider from The Great Yorkshire Brewery, a pretty standard cider.

My choice was a fairly easy one – the pulled pork burger which was simple and tasty, with some good chips, and a little bit of slaw on the side. And on a plate, although it was made of wood like some medieval trencher.

Mrs MOFAD had the standard burger, which was less good.

We had more places to explore so asked for the bill. And then asked for it again, since someone else’s drinks had been added to it.

A pleasant enough meal in characterful surroundings, but with so many great places to choose from, you don’t have to settle for pleasant enough.

York Tap, York Station, April 2017

The team at the York Tap are dedicated to serving the very best in British and continental ale and craft beer across 32 lines. You will find traditional local cask conditioned ales, and European pilsners sitting alongside American craft beers. The tap is perfectly situated on platform 1 of York station (also accessible from the street).  It’s very hard to miss the lovely listed Edwardian building, with very attractive stained glass windows and skylights. They also offer a range of carefully selected fine wines, spirits and soft drinks alongside a small but perfectly formed nibbles menu.

If you have timed your journey to arrive on a Friday lunchtime (like what we did), then you can get straight off your train, head across to plaform 1, and straight into the Tap. Park your suitcase at a table and then head off to the bar and order.

Loads of beer to choose from, all of those aforementioned lines, as well as lots of bottles and cans. First up I opted for the wonderfully named “Lime in the Coconut” from Bristol based Arbor Ales, who are fast becoming a favourite of mine. A very solid IPA with very subtle hints of lime and coconut. Easy drinking on its own but I think this would be wonderful with a Thai green curry.

Mrs MOFAD opted for Floris Passion from Brouwerij Huyghe, also very tasty and very easy drinking, with subtle passion fruit flavours.

Food next, and we opted for a couple of slates (they are at least honest in telling you that you will be getting slates instead of plates). Mrs MOFAD had the pate slate with melba toast and mango chutney, all of which were delicious and worked well in combination.

I chose the meat and olives option, with added manchego cheese. It was an end piece of manchego, so it needed a bit more shaving to eat it. All very good ingredients, tasty meat, nice cheese and very good olives. A simple and tasty lunch.

This was accompanied by Thornbridge Galaxia, not an 80s Space Invaders game, but an Australian pale ale made with the Oz hop Galaxy.

It is certainly a classic Aussie pale, hoppy and delightful. I could have stayed here all afternoon working through all of the taps, but we had things to do and places to explore, so headed out of the door and off to our hotel. We might just pop back in on Sunday evening though 🙂

The perfect introduction to York for any train traveller, and the perfect excuse to let the train take the strain (other British Rail advertising slogans are available).

The Parcel Yard, Leicester, February 2017

Have you guessed? Another night out at the Leicester comedy festival. If you look back through February 2015 and February 2016 (and all “pre-MOFAD” Februarys) you’ll find this familiar pattern. The Leicester comedy festival goes from strength to strength, with this year’s shows stretching out through three and a half weeks, and a huge mixture of “standard” tour shows, work in progress shows, podcast recordings, new material nights and a few special events (such as Robin Ince’s only live solo show in 2017).

On then to our choice of dining tonight, The Parcel Yard. We came here last year before a show, it’s perfectly placed for Leicester station (which is why it was absolutely packed tonight, more on that in a moment). It’s also a short walk to De Montfort Hall, which is where we were heading afterwards.

Why was it so packed? Ah, that’s an easy one when you spot lots of striped rugby shirts inside. Leicester Tigers had been playing at home, having beaten Bristol 50-17. The pub closest to the station is very likely to be busy, as fans eventually make their way home, once suitably refreshed. And there were quite a few that were suitably refreshed.

This does lead to one other thing. A limited menu. This is a sound business decision, and a very sensible one. If you know you are going to be packed out, the last thing you can possibly do is offer a full menu and get all those hungry people fed in good time. So you limit your offerings in order to keep service speedy and customers happy. As a customer, if there’s nothing you fancy from the more limited menu then you can vote with your feet and go elsewhere.

There was something that we both wanted so I trundled off to the bar and ordered. My beer choice was a pint of Ruckin’ Flanker, a collaboration between Steamin’ Billy (owner of the pub) and Charnwood Brewery.

The limited menu contains a selection of burgers from the usual menu – not all of them, as there’s one missing, sadly the one I was going to choose. There are also “favourites” such as fish’n’chips, steak, vegetable lasagne and all day breakfasts, the full selection of pizzas, and some salads, sandwiches and sides. Plenty of things to choose from.

Because we were right at the front of the pub (it’s quite a long building), Mrs MOFAD was pondering how they would spot us to bring the food out (there are no table numbers, spoons with numbers, flower pots with numbers, wine bottles with numbers or any other identifying items). Thankfully (perhaps), the barman serving had entered “middle aged guy by front door” into the till, so they would know where to find their customer. I guess I can’t really argue with that.

On to the food. I am often a creature of habit, so I had the Q burger again, beef burger topped with pulled pork, crispy bacon, Red Leicester cheese, onion rings and pickles served with fries and coleslaw. Just like last year, it was very tasty. And just like last year, there was no plate, just this wooden tray that you’d expect to find in your greenhouse or shed. How do I sprinkle vinegar on my chips? Where does my blob of sauce go to dip those chips in? We want plates!

Mrs MOFAD had a pizza again, this time the Steamin’ Hawaiian, topped with ham hock, spiced pineapple chunks & mushrooms.

This was less good, as it appeared to have either been over cooked (although not burnt) or left under a heat lamp for too long, as the ham was quite dry, and the base was almost cracker-crisp in places.

We were soon fed and watered, and then wandered back up London Road to De Montfort Hall to watch Sue Perkins in “Spectacles” – some readings from her recent autobiography mixed with amusing photos and other stories, and a Q&A section in the second half.

An entertaining night out, which would have been even better if the chuntering women behind us could have kept their mouths shut for more than 30 seconds. When their mouths weren’t full of wine they were nattering away about nonsense, occasionally related to an on stage anecdote. It’s fair to say that there were a lot of people out tonight who had not been out to a comedy show before.

The White Horse, Westleton, Suffolk, October 2016

Another bike riding day today. We parked at Dunwich Beach (lovely big car park) and then set off on our ride. Westleton was our lunch destination, we had visited the village last year when we came for dinner at The Crown. We decided that it was probably a bit too posh for cyclists, even though we were perfectly presentable after some pleasant country lane cycling.

Instead we chose The White Horse, you guessed it, an Adnams pub, in Westleton. Being a Tuesday lunchtime in early October, we weren’t expecting it to be rammed, but there was only one other couple inside, and it did have a bit of a feel of An American Werewolf in London about it. We looked over at the menu and ordered some lunch.

First, as usual, some drinks. For me, Adnams Jack Brand Mosaic Pale Ale, a pint of happy, fruity hoppiness. You’ll also spot Matt’s Blackshore stout and a lime and soda for Mrs MOFAD. Hazel’s tea is not pictured because it hadn’t arrived yet. Apparently she is partial to a cup of tea. Who knew?

My ham ploughmans arrived, and it was very tasty, good ham, decent salad, nice piccalilli, good chutney, and nice bread. It would have been even better on a plate, but in fact it was a double whammy of slate inset into a bread board. Hazel also had the same, and Mrs MOFAD had a tasty sandwich. The  portions are fairly modest but every ingredient is a good one.

When we get to Matt’s lunch, there’s a different story. He fancied something a bit lighter, so had some battered garlic mushrooms and some bread and oil/balsamic vinegar. The batter was mushy and greasy, like it hadn’t been cooked at a high enough temperature, and the ÂŁ3.50 bread was just one slice cut into strips, about the same amount as you can see on my “plate” above. That’s a rip off.

A shame really, but the ÂŁ3.50 slice of bread is something that’s fairly easy to address at least!

The Priory, July 2016

I’ve been moaning for almost a year (since they reopened) about The Priory and their use of stupid bread boards and copper cups. This kind of thing:-

IMG_3374

Every time I’ve been, I’ve talked about the tasty food (it’s really nice). But there has always been a moan about those silly boards. One year on, and there is good news.

The boards and cups are gone!

Does this mean that plates are finally available?

No. Now we have silly metal trays instead:-

The kind of thing that should be going into ovens to cook food on. Not the kind of thing that you should be serving food on. The kind of thing that dissipates heat quite well. Ok, the chips are at least out of the pointless cup (which always made them hard to season) but it’s an opportunity missed.

You could say it’s a step along the road to plates, but must try harder! We want plates!

The fish finger sandwich was nice!

Holyrood 9A, Edinburgh

Tonight was to be the night. A visit to The Hanging Bat. The weather had other ideas. A rain shower soon gave way to a full on hailstorm. I’d been warned of its approach by my friend Martin, who lives nearby and had spotted it on the horizon. So shelter was required, and the Holyrood 9A was very handily placed just down the road from my accommodation. It was high on the list of places to visit anyway, so the weather was just accelerating my decision making.

A lovely old pub feeling when inside, all wooden panels and wooden flooring, but that’s where the old stuff stops. When we get behind the bar, we find the very new – a huge array of taps with a wide range of ales from near and far. And like many modern pubs, you can take a flight of these, ordering thirds of a pint so that you can sample lots of different styles and flavours. All of this alongside an impressive menu of burger styles with one or two other options.

So let’s get ready for take off on our first flight…

Another Long White Cloud to start (like last night), which was still a hoppy delight. Next up a Goldfinch gluten free IPA which was certainly something a bit different. You know that I like to moan about IPAs not being pale enough, and this one was no exception, but it was pretty good. The first flight ended with a Grapevine pale ale, again, not pale but a good balance of hops and malt.

As the first flight came in to land, the Blue Murder burger arrived. This was absolutely delicious, a proper messy burger, and the final piece in today’s triple pork nirvana jigsaw, with the addition of a slice of big tasty bacon. The photo is blurred because I was in a hurry to eat it and didn’t waste time trying to perfect it 🙂

I must briefly mention this crime against mustard:-

which was visible on the table, although I soon moved it out of harm’s way. This is an abomination. It is not mustard. Mustard should be made fresh from Colman’s mustard powder. Or perhaps Tewkesbury cannonball mustard. But not this yellow gunk. Ban this sick filth!

And now the second crime, dinner served on bread boards. Look what happens to them, it just looks a bit odd. And again, chips in a cup, hard to season. It was all very lovely and tasty and a really nice burger, just my usual “we want plates” gripe 🙂

And now the second flight, starting with a Captain Laurence pale ale, which was pleasant and hoppy, an Allendale Marpiosa, pale but lacking hops and a Volcano IPA which fails massively to live up to its name – nothing on the nose, no great hoppy hit, just a pleasant ale. Nothing like a volcano, I was expecting explosions of hops and tropical fruits. Err, no. No eruptions of tropical fruit here.

A shame to finish on a downer, but a great pub, great burger and a great selection of beers. MOFAD approved and I have a feeling I will be back soon 🙂

It’s stopped raining now, so I can venture forth into the Edinburgh streets once more…