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Pubs - the topic


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#61 MacD

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 07:59 AM

The Red Lion, Stathern, Leicestershire (I think!)

I have been meaning to eat here for a while, as it is the sister/brother pub to the Olive Branch in Clipsham, which I love.

It is a gorgeous old pub, and it has a rpoper bar where people not wanting to eat can sit and have a drink. They do good beers too.

The dining room is lovely and so are the staff - the two we spoke to when ordering at the bar really seemed to know the menu and what each dish was like. The food was a bit mixed though - which is a shame, as I really wanted to love it.

My starter of ballotine of fois gras and sauternes jelly was amazing - the jelly was fantastic, and saved me having to order a glass of sauternes ... the other starters were not so perfect - cold meat platter, with "cold" being the operative word; lobster spring rolls - a bit strange - I think I would have preferred a proper chinese tasting spring roll and I have got very bored with the ubiquity of the sweet chilli dip; and the squid would have been great if it hadn't been for the strange accompanying dip - the menu advertised a sweet chilli dip (again), but what came was something that looked like mayonaise, but tasted of absolutely nothing. My friend is someone who doesn't like to Make A Fuss (in that very British way), but when he had nearly finished it he asked what the dip was. The reply was "garlic butter"... Well - apart from the fact that it didn't taste of butter, let alone garlic, why was this served with battered squid? Bizarre. And this was the only time when the waiting staff didn't seem to know what they were talking about. We even told her that it was supposed to be a chilli dip, but she didn't respond...

Main courses were also mixed. My rib eye steak wasn't great - it was nearer blue than rare, which I don't like, and didn't have much flavour. The fish and chips ordered by two of us was pretty damn good though - perfectly cooked and nice home made tartare sauce, mushy peas and brown sauce. The chips weren't bad either (thank the lord they weren't chunky chips - I hate them). The Beef Wellington was very good too.

It was a bit pricier than I had expected - 30 quid a head for two courses each, two beers and a bottle of wine between four people, not including tip. It had some great highlights, but needs to work much harder if it is to be as good as the Olive Branch.

Sorry if this is a bit long ...!

#62 Harters

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 10:17 AM

PEN-Y-BRYN, COLWYN BAY

As you'll have seen upthread, I'm normally a fan of the Brunning & Price places but here's one to miss, based on today's lunch.

Usual B & P set-up - lots of tables big enough for a large group, decent looking menu, good service and so on. But then it was downhill.

Fishcake starter had barely any fish. Potted rabbit & belly pork with pickle and toast read very well - and it could have tasted quite nice - except for the usual B & P practice of serving most starters fridge cold.

Mince meat pie looked nice and had some decent taste but everything was swimming in "canteen gravy". So the perhaps once crisp chips werent. My main - braised lamb shoulder - sat on a slop of tasteless root veg. The gravy was again unpleasantly out in force. Best thing on the plate was some dauphinoise potato which had managed to avoid being drowned.

Poor do this - I've eaten worse food in the factory canteen when I was working but I've also eaten better.
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#63 Harters

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 10:18 AM

BLUEBELL, HENLEY-IN-ARDEN

I suppose deciding if the Bluebell is a gastropub or just a pub that does good food depends on your definition of gastropub. Certainly most folk this lunchtime were eating, rather than just drinking, and they are certainly geared up for that with a good looking shortish menu.

Braised pork belly was pretty much what you’d expect. Of course, you don’t get crackling when it’s cooked like this, but you do get a very delicious skin that’s crisped a little making it a rather nice chew. But so you don’t miss out, you also get a separately cooked piece of very crisp crackling. The meat sat on colcannon mash (of course it did – mash is taking over the world). It was topped with a fried apple slice and surrounded by a decent gravy. Honey roast carrots & parsnips were an extra.

I’m not big on desserts but affogato sounded like a lightish finish to the meal. The vanilla icecream was advertised as homemade – in which case, I suggest they stop and just get in a tub of Wall’s which would be an improvement. It was served as a blob of the icecream with a separate shot glass of the espresso. Coffee was strong without being bitter.Could have been a good dessert - but wasn't.

Service had been good. Perhaps too good. I went to the toilet after I’d eaten, intending to come back and finish my drink and the reading of the newspaper. Came back to find my table cleared as they thought I’d gone. "Weren't you fussed I'd done a runner?". "Nah,happens all the time since the smoking ban with folk going out the back".

So, a fair lunch. But worth the Good Food Guide’s cooking score 4? Nah, not even close.
John Hartley

#64 Mr Pie

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 05:52 AM

The Fat Cat in Norwich is a great pub. It doesn't do any food (OK, maybe a ham roll) but it has one of the best selection of ales I have seen and a good atmosphere. To me, this is first and foremost what a great pub should offer. I love good food, but I don't believe it defines a great pub.
if food be the music of love, eat on.

#65 wollastonblue

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 12:13 AM

I know several good pubs around the country. It all depends on what you are looking for. So here goes:

Food (but also excellent beer):

The Running Horse, Long Bank, Bewdley
The Buddle Inn, Niton, Isle of Wight
The Cherub, Dartmouth, Devon
The Crumplehorn, Polperro, Cornwall
The Stable Bar, High Town, Bridgnorth
The Church Tavern, Ludlow

Beer:

The Waggon and Horses, Halesowen, West Midlands
The Plough and Harrow, Stourbridge, West Midlands
The Vine (AKA The Bull and Bladder), Brierley Hill, West Midlands (Recently feature in Tom Parker Bowles Column in Mail on Sunday)
Beacon Hotel, Sedgeley, West Midlands
The Wellington, Bennetts Hill, Birmingham (Great for a drink before going to Purnells)
The Volunteer, Ventnor, Isle of Wight
The Blue Peter, Polperro, Cornwall
The Golden Lion, St Ives, Cornwall
The Seven Stars, Falmouth, Cornwall (Best pint of Draught Bass, in the world)
The Volunteer, Lyme Regis, Dorset

#66 Harters

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Posted 30 May 2010 - 07:59 AM

DUKE OF PORTLAND, LACH DENNIS, CHESHIRE

I mentioned the Duke upthread but this is the first time I've had chance to write-up a meal.

Back in 2008, we said we’d return here to give it a second chance and it's taken us this. As before, the main carte is heavy on provenance and, on this Sunday lunchtime, there were elements of this still in the much foreshortened menu available. And, as before, things were not perfect.

I started with a Cheshire blue cheese salad – mixed leaves, candied walnuts, croutons and dice of the cheese. The cheese came from Heler’s at nearby Nantwich (a creamery rather than farmhouse cheese). It was OK – but it was only OK – it was just a cheese salad after all. I then had the beef & Guiness pie. Or, rather, pies – as, oddly, two of them were served. They came with decent non-sloppy mash, some mixed veg and gravy which tasted as though it had actually been made in a kitchen rather than a factory. It was a hefty looking plate of food unfortunately let down by the pie’s somewhat soggy pastry and the soggy and rather meagre contents.

My wife went for a ham hock starter. It came in a mini-Kilner jar in the fashionable way that places tart up an otherwise indifferent product. Meat was OK and of a good chunky texture. It came with bread and piccalilli. Bread was white and tasteless. Piccalilli was yellow mush – no texture and much more a bland sauce than a tart, crunchy pickle. She followed that with a burger and chips. Here the provenance kicked in – this wasn’t just a beefburger; this was beef from Ken Webb’s farm, a couple of miles away in Lower Peover. It was good. Not so good were the chips which, although cooked in dripping, had none of the taste and crispness that you might have expected.

So, some parts of this meal were good. But not really enough of them. And value for money? Not that good either – everything felt that it was a pound or two overpriced for what it was.

It'd be a place to stop if in the immediate area and, perhaps, the evening menu might have better offerings (as might the 2 course for £15 "market menu" available weekday lunches).
John Hartley

#67 anm

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 09:17 AM

Just curious , i dont mean to get people on the wrong foot ...i am neither English nor been to England ...There seem to be very little talk of ale/beers here ...Its all food only and the links that are here and point to pubs seem more interested in displaying their wine list than beer list .... May be i dont understand it at all :sad:

#68 Harters

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 10:45 AM

Well, I think it's partially because this is the UK dining sub-forum and, specifically, the OP was about food in pubs.

I can't speak for others but I rarely mention alcohol in any of my posts as I don't drink it.

As for pubs not displaying their beer lists, this may be because of the "tied" nature of many pubs. That is "tied" as in tied into supply arrangements with a single brewery. So, for example, the two pubs in my village are tied to the same one - Hydes - so will only sell their beers (and a guest one, which changes only periodically). Other places, which are not tied, can source their beers from wherever they like. For example, the Brunning & Price Group, which I mention upthread, is one such and, in fact, its website does mention which beers are stocked. I'm talking proper beer here, not bottled lager.
John Hartley

#69 Mr Pie

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 05:51 AM

Just curious , i dont mean to get people on the wrong foot ...i am neither English nor been to England ...There seem to be very little talk of ale/beers here ...Its all food only and the links that are here and point to pubs seem more interested in displaying their wine list than beer list .... May be i dont understand it at all :sad:


Pubs landlords/managers discovered a while back that there was more money to be made selling food than there was selling beer. While once common to find pubs that sold no food other than pork scratchings and crisps, it is now very rare to find a pub where a large proportion of the floor space is not designated to diners. As mentioned on a previous post many pubs are now owned by large chains that prize profit above all else and the concept of the local freehouse is rapidly becoming a distant memory. Serving what is now called 'real ale' (once called beer) is a skilled practice. The lines require more attention, there is more waste and the cellars require better keeping. All this means less profit than a pint of lager with a plate of crap chicken tikka masala. Yes, I am old and bitter (no pun intended).
if food be the music of love, eat on.

#70 RDB

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 04:08 AM

Well, I think it's partially because this is the UK dining sub-forum and, specifically, the OP was about food in pubs.

I can't speak for others but I rarely mention alcohol in any of my posts as I don't drink it.

As for pubs not displaying their beer lists, this may be because of the "tied" nature of many pubs. That is "tied" as in tied into supply arrangements with a single brewery. So, for example, the two pubs in my village are tied to the same one - Hydes - so will only sell their beers (and a guest one, which changes only periodically). Other places, which are not tied, can source their beers from wherever they like. For example, the Brunning & Price Group, which I mention upthread, is one such and, in fact, its website does mention which beers are stocked. I'm talking proper beer here, not bottled lager.


I think it is the name of the thread, "Great Pubs" , which is confusing. Without sounding pedantic it should be "Great food in Pubs". Strangely this thread tends to mention many not so "Great pubs", both as establishments selling food and as pubs??!!

As someone whoi does drink alcohol, there are many bottled lagers which are proper beer!

#71 Harters

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 04:30 AM

Strangely this thread tends to mention many not so "Great pubs",

I guess that, as always with these things, it's a subjective matter of taste. What might be great to you, might be shite to me and vice versa. I'd certainly be interested to see your posts suggesting where you do think is great - it all adds to the available information on the board.
John Hartley

#72 Mr Pie

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 07:27 AM


Strangely this thread tends to mention many not so "Great pubs",

I guess that, as always with these things, it's a subjective matter of taste. What might be great to you, might be shite to me and vice versa. I'd certainly be interested to see your posts suggesting where you do think is great - it all adds to the available information on the board.


I guess I have an issue with the definition of what a 'pub' is. I grew up in the countryside and see a pub as the focal point of the village where folks get together over a good pint and talk. If food is required it consists of 'pub food' i.e. pies, stews, roasts etc. However, the important thing for me is that serving food is a secondary function of a pub rather than a primary one. If an establishment is going to serve ballentine of fois gras with sauterenes jelly I don't see how it can market itself as a pub? It is essentially a restaurant in an old pub building.
if food be the music of love, eat on.

#73 Harters

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Posted 10 June 2010 - 02:12 AM

I think you miss my point on a few levels.

'Tis a weakness of mine, particular when the points are relatively obscure and, as you say, pedantic.

But, just to clarify. Your great, or even good, pub food experiences is what I would be interested in reading - this is a dining sub-forum, after all.

As for my recent experiences, I would still say that they are relative. In these cases, relative to the two pubs near to home and, on that basis, my reports have been about "great" food. I rarely find even a "great" meal to be faultless and I think it's helpful to a readership to mention these as well as the "great" points. The exception to this is the notes about Pen-y-Bryn (above) which was a poor meal and which I commented on by way of contrast to the otherwise good experiences at other places owned by this chain.

So, "good", "fair", "great" whichever - be thankful that I am not American so you will never read "awesome" in my posts. :laugh:
John Hartley

#74 RDB

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Posted 11 June 2010 - 12:13 AM

In honour of the world cup I will be aiming to drink in some good pubs and match the beers with countries playing.

Saying that Ivory coast and Korea will be a tough one. Looking forward to England / Usa where I will be watching in my very good local pub The Crown Inn Worthington. Bourbon county stout vs a pint of "Rooney Juice".

#75 Harters

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Posted 11 June 2010 - 03:30 AM

We did similar at home a couple of Cups ago - matching dinner to whoever England was playing. Game against Holland wasnt the most thrilling meal I've ever eaten.
John Hartley

#76 malcolmwilliamson

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Posted 18 June 2010 - 07:46 AM

Three pubs I've lunched at in recent weeks and have been impressed by are:

The Red Lion, East Chisenbury, Wiltshire. It has a Michelin ‘Bib Gourmand’.
http://redlionfreehouse.com/ Limited choice of 3 courses for £15, or alc

The Swan at Southrop, Gloucestershire. Recently voted the GFG Restaurant of the Year. http://www.theswanatsouthrop.co.uk/ 2/3 courses for £14/£17 with two choices per course from the more extensive, and expensive, alc menu

The Marquis at Alkham, Kent http://www.themarquisatalkham.co.uk/ Michelin rising *
2/3 courses for £15.50/£19.50 with at least four choices per course
I've posted a longer comment on the Marquis on its eponymous egullet thread.

#77 Harters

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 08:31 AM

Malcolm

Much as I've also enjoyed the food at the Marquis, surely you're not really considering this to be a pub are you? Whilst the building once was, it certainly ain't now - very serious full-on restaurant, IMO.

John

Edited by Harters, 25 June 2010 - 08:31 AM.

John Hartley

#78 Harters

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 10:56 AM

CORN MILL, LLANGOLLEN

Brunning & Price back on form!

Had an enormous portion of very tasty braised lamb shoulder. Came with Puy lentils, cooked in stock with onion and other stuff. Good range of veg - cauli, beans, carrots, cabbage.

Herself only wanted a prawn sandwich (but then she is a Man United fan).
John Hartley

#79 malcolmwilliamson

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 01:50 PM

You're correct of course John.
The Marquis is described on its website as a " boutique hotel" or "restaurant with rooms".

I put my mistake down to the bus I caught from Dover; it's stop in Alkham is still called the " Marquis of Granby". :smile:

#80 Harters

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 02:56 AM

Is this, perhaps, thedefinition that separates the gastropub from the merely pub? I'm not sure.

"There seems to be a certain type of person who dislikes intensely what we are trying to do. They like cheap food, have a fixed idea of what a pub should serve and often seem to get the words servile and service mixed up. They also like very long menus, very hot food and are quite Stalinist about these matters. The idea of a pub serving food of the highest quality (by definition this is also means a higher price) in a simple, relaxed setting seems to annoy them."

(Lifted from the Sportsman's website)
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#81 Harters

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Posted 10 September 2010 - 08:16 AM

DYSART ARMS, BUNBURY, CHESHIRE

I don’t know why I order starters in Brunning & Price places. They never seem to be a patch on the main courses. My partner has learned that lesson but, for me, some things are deeply rooted in my north western genes. Like seeing black pudding on a menu and being compelled to order it.

So it was that a plate of black pudding, bacon and tarragon hash cake arrived. It was a sizeable portion but it needed more – more black pudding that is. And more bacon. And much more seasoning. Topped with a little leaf and with a fried egg draped over it, it looked far better than it tasted. And, whilst I’m having a whinge, let me also criticise the egg – it had a crispy base (something I dislike), yet there was a slight snottiness to the white (something I dislike even more). And I’m not at all sure that the tarragon worked. Not good this. Not vile. Just not good.

Far, far better was the main. Chicken and leek pie. Generous portion of chicken, good flavoured béchamel sauce, some bits of leek (more would have been better) and the crispiest pastry I can recall in a long time. This really was a good pie. It came with fried scalloped potatoes and some shredded cabbage and carrot. For my money, as fine a pub lunch dish as I want to come across.

Meanwhile, herself was getting stuck in to braised lamb shoulder. Although each pub fixes its own menu, there must be some central guidance as there is always a braised lamb dish of some sort on each one (and burger and ham/egg/chips). Today’s offering came with dauphinoise potatoes, carrot and mangetout. As always, it was very generous portion – with a very good flavour from the long cooking. Another winner.
John Hartley

#82 david goodfellow

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Posted 10 September 2010 - 09:50 AM

Not been here in a while John, even though its one of our favorite pubs. Its wonderful inside and out, but on a sunny Cheshire day it really comes into its own.

The food was a bit patchy on one of our last visits but I love the Brunning and Price brand and generally they do a cracking job.

#83 Harters

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Posted 10 September 2010 - 10:01 AM

Weather was a bit iffy - but we managed a little stroll along the canal afterwards. The church was also packed with history - for instance, some painted panels from 1450.

Pub was surprisingly quiet for a B & P place - apart from a couple of guys having a swift pint, we were the only ones in. Must have hit it on a bad day as the landlady says they make 50 pies every other day.
John Hartley

#84 Harters

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Posted 11 October 2010 - 02:44 PM

A return to the GLASFRYN today for lunch, as we were passing nearby.

Herself had a very decent Welsh rarebit - nice thick toast, fairly good cheddar, some well dressed leaves.

I had an enormous and very tasty burger, topped with bacon, cheese and just about everything else you think should go with a burger. With chips.

Nice.
John Hartley

#85 Harters

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 09:29 AM

And a return lunch visit to SUTTON HALL

Some pretty decent food, although there were inordinate delays in bringing it (including getting on for 40 minutes between starter and main).

Butternut squash & sage soup – warm autumnal flavours, nice little note of sage

Pigeon breast salad – nicely rare meat, a scattering of bacon over watercress, sherry vinegar in the dressing, spoilt a little by the poached egg which should have added to the dressing being cooked all the way through.

Fish finger sandwich – homemade. Nice. Nuff said

Braised silverside – I would have cooked this a tad longer for “cut it with a spoon” tenderness but it was none too shabby. Mash, veg & gravy. Good plate of comfort food.

And Mrs H had a pint of Lord Lucan pale ale from the very nearby Wincle brewery. She said it had a mysterious and elusive flavour – or was she talking about Lucan?
John Hartley

#86 nikkib

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 11:23 AM

http://www.thesmokerinn.com/ a recent lunch time visit to the smoker in knutsford left me very impressed indeed. They have a great selection of hot and cold sandwiches and also "real" dishes as well. We just went for sandwiches as we werent too hungry - i had cheshire cheese with damson jam and the others went for "hedgehogs" a warm plaited bun with various fillings. Service was very friendly and the pub has a real cosiness to it - one to stop in at if you are in the neighbourhood for sure.
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#87 Harters

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Posted 11 February 2011 - 08:37 AM

ROSE & CASTLE, ANSTY, COVENTRY

Just off Junction 2 of the M6, the Rose and Castle has a canalside setting that’d be lovely in summer. It’s definitely a pub for eating rather than drinking, although there’s nothing remotely “gastro” about the menu.

There’s a long menu suggesting regular deliveries from Brakes Bros, or similar supplier, but home cooked ham was a generous portion of a quality gammon which came with coleslaw, chips and a salad garnish.

The local Midlands dish of faggots also had a decent offaly flavour but I’m glad the chips were served separately otherwise they too would have drowned in the lake of industrial strength gravy (made worse by the fact that it had already started to form a skin.

As often with these motorway stop-offs, I find that despite the negatives this was much better food that we’d have got at Corley Services. And much better value too as there was a BOGOF in operation till the end of the month which meant that the two plates, and a drink each, cost just twelve quid.
John Hartley

#88 Northern Food

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 02:06 AM

I was having a glance through this thread to see whether it's the right place to post about a lunch I'll be going for later today (it probably is, post to follow tonight) but was interested by the debate about beer/food above, so here's my input.

There has been a huge explosion in the number of small, independent breweries making interesting beer in recent years. The cask ale movement (the OP on the subject (anm) may have heard of CAMRA, the campaign for real ale) has been going for decades now, but more recent developments have probably been influenced by the American craft beer movement, with high quality keg beers being developed as well as cask ales.

The consequence of this is that there are many, many pubs serving high quality beer, but these aren't necessary the same pubs as those serving high quality food (although there are some doing both). Here are a just a few of those pubs in three major cities, listed off the top of my head:

London
The Rake
The Market Porter
The Euston Tap
Jerusalem Tavern
The Royal Oak
The Greenwich Union

Manchester
The Marble Arch
Crown and Kettle
Bar Fringe
Knott Bar
The Angel
The Castle Hotel
Peveril of the Peak
The Britons Protection
Port Street Beer House

Leeds
North Bar
The Reliance
The Adelphi
The Palace
Mr Foleys Cask Ale House
Veritas

Every one of the above will serve you excellent beer, and there are many more throughout the country.
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#89 codheadred

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 08:01 AM

Cross Scythes Sheffield

Went here at the weekend

http://cross-scythes.com/menu.php

5 of us plus kids, hot sandwiches and chips were the order of the day, standard sounding stuff but done really well steak and onion, roast beef and horseradish, homemade chips were fab, desserts were better than the usual pub fayre cheesecake especially - will go again!

Couple of pints Timothy Taylors landlord made a good start to a day out.

Edited by codheadred, 14 February 2011 - 08:47 AM.


#90 Northern Food

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 08:36 AM

Crab and Lobster, Asenby, North Yorkshire

Sunday afternoon here yesterday. It's a pub restaurant specialising in seafood, been around for years as far as I'm aware. Just about still classifies as a pub, it does have a bar area although the focus is very much on the dining. Off the wall atmosphere with crazy decor and live music (see the blog for full details), it doesn't take itself too seriously.

Food is expensive (around £30 for 3 courses without any booze) but the £18 3 course lunches available Mon-Sat would be great value. Generally high standard, excellent mussels, fish soup and desserts. Fish and chips was a bit of a duff note, the fish was fine but the batter was too thick. Roasts were also good, but judging by the soup and mussels I think the fish/seafood dishes (not battered) are probably the way to go.

Overall a good option, particularly for a passing lunch as it's just off the main North/South routes (A1 and A19).
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