Sunday, 23 December 2012

The Bull at Broughton near Skipton

For a pub to be successful today, especially when it is close to the Yorkshire Dales, it has to have a formula which draws in the customers. The Bull at Broughton on the A59 just west of Skipton has gone for the full bag of mashings: Good beer, great food and friendly service....

When you walk into the Bull the first thing that strikes you is how light it is. The second is that it is deceptively spacious. It has been tastefully renovated whilst retaining the stone flags and wooden floors. Needless to say my eyes wandered over to the bar...
Draught beers available were local brews  Copper Dragon, Hetton Pale and  Joshua Jane plus Thwaites Wainwright (acknowledging the pub's proximity to the Lancashire border), I am partial to the Dark Horse brewery products so Hetton Pale  was my choice......
As it was Sunday lunchtime it seemed only polite to have something to eat. When it comes to food the pub's parent company, Ribble Valley Inns, are quite particular. Much of the produce is sourced from their "food heroes". There are pictures of these suppliers on the walls which, for me, makes it more well -personal. The food is pub fayre but wow, it is good. I had fish and chips, cooked the old fashioned way - in dripping. The batter was crisp and the enclosed fish was delicious - I have not tasted better fish and chips since I was in Hull market in 1967!

There was a lovely atmosphere in the Bull as a local choir, the Silsden Singers, were performing Christmas songs for the benefit of customers and staff alike.
Did I mention the staff? Brilliant! Most of the waiting staff were very young but they clearly enjoy working at the Bull as they were all that you could want - polite, efficient and friendly.
The Bull is part of the Ribble Valley Inns group and it is clear that  the philosophy of serving  good local produce, be it food or drink, is working. We recommend this pub for both. Call in if you are passing. You will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

York Tap

A rugby and ale loving friend of mine, who lives in York, recommended that we visit the York Tap, formerley a model railway and now a pub selling a range of well kept ales from all over the country. It has been a pub for less than a year but is already my favourite alehouse in York.

The pub can be entered direct from platform 2 which is handy as we arrived by train. Now I had imagined that the bar would be very long, to accomodate all the different beer engines. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the bar itself was round!
...with ample room for twenty wickets!
..ten on each side! I tried a brew called Seven, from Bristol. This, needless to say led to some mathematical rounds. ( Is 28 four pints of Seven or three pints and two halves?)
York Tap is an ideal place for thirsty drinkers to meet up or simply for travellers waiting for a train. You should try it.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Victoria Hotel, Leeds

Pubs change. New pubs open and old pubs close. This is a sad fact of life. There is a pub behind Leeds town hall which bucks the trend. The Victoria Hotel has not changed one jot in the 40 years since I first went in for a pint.

Being close to the courts and the infirmary the Vic was always popular with medics and the legal fraternity. Today it is popular with discerning drinkers from all walks of life. Why? Because it sells a wide range of well kept ales in plush surroundings.

When we were in there were beers from St Austell, Rudgate, Leeds Brewery, Heck and Tetleys from Wolverhampton. The latter when it was brewed in Leeds was being served here in the 70's though it is no longer my "goto" beer.
The decor in the Vic is wonderful - lots of dark wood, leather and brass.. with snug little booths  along the wall opposite the bar.
There is also a dining room, Albert's bar which can be hired for private parties...
...where the decor is equally delicious!
The Vic has all the ingredients and the longevity that go to make it one of the best pubs in the centre of Leeds. I recommend that you find it, go in and sample what it has to offer.
Twitter @victoria_leeds


Sunday, 30 September 2012

West End House, Leeds

The suburbs of  Leeds are not a goldmine when it comes to good pubs. West Leeds is no exception. However if you are heading west along the A65, just before Kirkstall Abbey there is a small, unassuming local hostelry on the righthand side, called West End House.

The CAMRA sign on the front gives a clue as to the delights awiting inside:
There were half a dozen local beers on when we went in, all well kept and served immaculately.
The pub caters for everyone so there was live football on the TV making for a lively atmosphere. After a while people arrived wanting to eat. There is a nice dining area away from the noisy bar:
With dark wood and comfy seats it is a cosy place to eat.
The staff were friendly and genuinely happy to be there which added to the nice atmosphere in the pub.
The overall impression was a good pub serving decent ale and home cooked food making for a happy local crowd plus visitors (like us)
We recommend the West End House to you!


Sunday, 1 April 2012

Veritas Bar, Leeds

If you like real ale and decent pub food in pleasant surroundings then you might not think that the centre of Leeds on a Saturday night is the place to find it. Market Town Taverns clearly thought otherwise when they opened Veritas on Great George Street right opposite the old frontage of the Leeds Infirmary.

The pub looks a bit like a shop from the outside and that feeling goes right through to the room past the bar which is a delicatessen during the day.

Now I always like to try different ales so I plumped for the Abbeydale Daily Bread  for my first pint.which turned out to be a rather bland, and in my opinion, characterless beer.

Second up was a nice little blonde from Ilkey - Mary Jane which was on splendid form.

We had come to Veritas for something to eat and if I am honest the overall feel of the place is that of a cafe. This should not come as a surprise as all the MTT pubs that we have visited are slightly unusual. The food is good simple pub fayre served in decent portions at very reasonable prices.

I had  slab of chicken and wild mushroom pie but the game pie and the veggie dish both looked good.

A special mention for the staff who were working last night. They were all from the PIAF school (Polite, Interested, Articulate & Friendly) They certainly made a big contribution to the nice atmosphere and deserve our thanks.

At a time when pubs in leeds are closing down every week Market Town Taverns have hit upon a winning formula. They now have 3 pubs in Leeds and another 12 across the county. If you are in leeds then I recommend that you call in to Veritas and enjoy what they have to offer.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Craven Arms, Appletreewick

The Yorkshire Dales are peppered with good pubs and not a few good breweries. In the mid to upper reaches of Wharfedale lies the village of Appletreewick which has two pubs and one church which speaks volumes for the villagers' priorities. When I am in the area I make a point of calling in to the Craven Arms.

Inside it is like stepping back in time. Open fires and nicknacks are the order of the day.

There are two bars with an array of localish beers including Cruck Barn Bitter brewed in Hetton which is about six miles from the pub.

Food served is of a good standard pub-food and the portions are liberal. On the menu when we called in were: Belly pork with black pudding (my choice), roast lambshank, brisket of beef and whole roast Camembert. Service is prompt and friendly, just as you would expect. 

Having strolled down to Burnsall and back before we ate the food did not last very long but the general feeling was that it was good value at £10.95 for a main course.

So with nice beer and good food (locally sourced wherever possible) the Craven Arms is an absolute gem of a pub and we recommend it as a great stopping off point if you are in the area.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

The Crown Posada, Newcastle upon Tyne

Newcastle is a city famous for its nightlife - brash,exciting and loud. There is a pub, close to the quayside which is the antithesis of all this. The Crown Posada, situated on a cobbled street known as Side is certainly exciting but never brash and, when we were in there, certainly not loud.

 The facade of the pub is very deceptive. Behind this narrow unassuming frontage lies a wonderful interior which goes way back into the building.

The decor is sumptious - lots of dark wood and stained glass with soft lighting which, along with the shape of the pub, gives it a cosy feel.

Once you have taken in the ambience of the Crown Posada you then come to the main event - the beer. Lovely ale from local breweries is the order of the day - Haddon & Tynemouth to name but two - well kept and superbly presented.

I commented to the barman after an hour that we had been in a Quayside pub for an hour and had not seen a fight! His reply: "We haven't had a fight in here since Montgomery was a corporal" It made me chuckle. If you are in Newcastle and want a good pint in nice surroundings then go no further than the Crown Posada.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Mr Foley's Cask Alehouse, Leeds

If you are out for a drink in the centre of Leeds you could do a lot worse than calling in to Mr Foleys. Situated in the old Pearl Assurance building on the Headrow this pub, as the name suggests, is a haven for lovers of cask-conditioned ale.
The first time you call in at Mr Foleys your attention is drawn to the splendid bar to your left, with it's shelves of bottles stretching high up the wall behind.

Thirsty travellers like ourselves can then take a closer look at the wide range of beers on offer. The pub is run by York Brewery and there is a range of it's beers on tap as well as guest ales.

Having selected a pint of Terrier, a lovely session ale, I went "upstairs" to join our group in a very comfortable lounge, resplendent with leather sofas. The atmosphere here and around the whole pub was of people enjoying a quiet drink. Remarkable considering this was Leeds city centre on a Saturday night.

My fellow reviewer regularly uses this pub as a lunchtime meet-up pub with his mates and assured me that the atmosphere was equally pleasant then. As Mr Foleys is ideally situated for the fine shopping to be found in the centre of Leeds I would not hesitate to recommend it as an oasis of calm and fine ales where weary shoppers can relax over a decent glass of beer. Enjoy!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Boltmakers Arms, Keighley

Small but perfectly formed the Boltmakers Arms is everything that you could wish for in a pub. Situated on the edge of the town centre a short walk from the railway station it is easy to miss this lovely little pub which has quite a narrow frontage on East Parade.That would be a big mistake. When you step through the door you enter an establishment which is a throwback to an age when a good Saturday night out was to be had by simply going down to the local.

Inside the pub is tiny. When there are sixty people in it is full. However people are happy to squeeze in to the seats or stand shoulder to shoulder around the bar in order to sample what the Boltmakers has to offer..... Timothy Taylors beers at their best.

The full range of TT's ales are available plus selected guest beers. When we were there Big Dog from York Brewery and Everards Tiger were available. Needless to say the guests did not feature in my plans. The focus of my attention was fairly and squarely upon a pint of Taylors Best Bitter.

This is a session beer without peers. My all time favourite and I was here, in the best pub in Keighley, to drink it! Despite the pub being busy the two barmaids kept the beer flowing, accompanied by gentle banter and pleasant smiles.  As the bitter slipped down , pint by wonderful pint, I was able to appreciate the pub's decor which consists mainly of music memorabilia.

We were sat beneath a bust of Elvis but there were lots of interesting items which vied with the beer for my attention.

Needless to say the beer won hands down. We always visit the Boltmakers when we are in town. It never fails to less than a welcoming hostelry serving excellent beer in a friendly atmosphere. Long may it continue.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

The Fleece, Otley

Otley's oldest pub - The Fleece on Westgate
With 2012 nearly a fortnight old and the Christmas/New Year period fast becoming a blurry memory, we headed to Otley for a frosty Sunday walk followed by some good food and a pint of ale. We had heard good things about the renovation of The Fleece by Wharfebank Brewery, which is located just down the river at Pool, so kicked the frozen mud off our boots and headed in.

Wharfebank have been meticulous in their renovation of the Fleece with a combination of traditional ( the snug) and new (open plan real fire). The snug, on your left as you enter from the front of the pub, is a no-nonsense drinking bar where you can take your dog but not your kids. The next thing that catches your eye is that real log fire in the middle of the main room. In this case open plan means you can see right through it. Next is the bar with at least six wickets, three Wharfebank ales and several guest beers. It would have been rude not to try the hosts offering, so we started with a nice bitter called VPA.

The pub offers local ales and local produce. The 'Winter Feeding Menu' looked original for pub grub with a wide range of food, starting at very cheap and ascending to around £11. There was also a distinctly Scottish feel to some of the dishes, in keeping with the barman's accent! The vegetarian haggis - 'Nae Bash & Mash' - arrived complete with a wee dram! All our food arrived on wooden platters or slate tablets. It was well presented and well received - particularly the 'fat chips', which were of epic proportions.

Time for the loo and the gents was, again, a mixture of traditional and modern. Functional and tasteful. [ - Dad's written that now, but at the time he was raving about those loos!]

A second pint was in order and this time we split up and tried a darker, less bitter brew called 'Camfell Flame' - very palatable - and 'Slingers Gold' - another lovely, smooth session beer from Wharfebank.

The one aspect of the Fleece that we were unable to sample was the beer garden overlooking the river Wharfe due to the subzero temperature. However we will be back in the spring to put that right!

The verdict - very happy indeed!
The Fleece is a cracking pub with friendly staff and superb beer. Let's hope it goes from strength-to-strength and in a few years those shiny new features will have a lovely, lived-in feel.

The Fleece's website:
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