The last time I was in the Bramshill Hunt was illegally, as a REME Junior Leader, around 1962. The staff certainly have not been there since then, much to young and pretty. Apart from this I do not really remember it at all, just the sneaking through the woods to get there.
One thing that did confuse me a little were two banners outside emblazoned with “come on you Irish”. Never did get to find out what they were in aid of!
It is now part of the Green King Group and, I believe, under new management. Barry Johnson had dropped them in the orders a couple of hours before we were due to arrive so at least they were forewarned that about 30 people were going to descend on them.
In general they coped pretty well although a couple of people had to wait an inordinatley long time, probably due to the fact that they only had staff available for a normal Saturday lunch time.
I had picked the cheese and ham ploughmans lunch and I can say that it would have been hard to beat.
The cheese was a chunk or real cheddar and the ham actually tasted of ham. Add pickled onion, Branston pickle and a section of french stick and you have the perfect accompaniment to red wine or a gin and tonic (Josephine got the last of the red wine in the house!)
I think everybody else was suitably impressed with their choice and, at just over £10.0 for two of us it was indeed value for money.
Unfortunately it is unlikely that I will be in Arborfield any time again soon.
My good friends the Rankin’s called into the office to discuss a piece of furniture and having finalised the design requirements, plus me having slipped a chair in to the equation, they invited me to join them for lunch. The idea was to test the newly opened Newry Bypass and get to Fitzpatrick’s Restaurant in record time. This of course did not take into account the erroneous reporting that the last section of the bypass had opened at eleven o’clock! It hadn’t! Looking across to the northbound carriageway it seemed that this had been opened at about 13.03.
The potting shed
On previous trips down the Carlingford road I do not recall getting past the Ballymascanlon Hotel so was amazed to be introduced to the Irish answer to the “Traditional Irish Pub” a couple of kilometres further down the road.
The bicycle park
Arriving in the car park at first glance Fitzpatrick’s appears as the picture book example of the rural farmhouse style building with whitewashed walls and slate roof. The adjoining courtyard boasts a plethora of flowers growing in pots which are set in anything from bicycle baskets to a van engine compartment. Of course there is also the regulation horse and donkey in the adjacent paddock. I actually thought that the donkey was a cast model until it brayed!
Once one enters it appears as the Irish answer to the ubiquitous “Irish Bar”, at least one of which is to be found in every major city round the world. Every available inch of wall, cill and beam sports period adverts, pictures and artefacts.
The amazing thing is that it works without ever seeming to be “over the top”.
Every available space!
We were taken to our table by a young lady who was certainly not indigenous but who was definitely very well trained. She took our drinks order and provided us with menus. At first glance it occurred to me that anyone who can include “Almost famous French Onion Soup” and “Now Famous Chicken Wings” as offerings is certainly worth a try.
Helen and I picked the Whole Baked Sea Trout on seared courgettes with Hollandaise sauce, with chips on the side, from the “day’s specials” menu whilst Trevor went for the sausages with champ and onion gravy.
The fish was cooked to perfection, just firm, and the chips were golden crisp; how do they do that? The courgettes were melt in the mouth and the Hollandaise sauce complemented it all perfectly. Not only that but there was a serving of vegetables as well: cauliflower, broccoli, mange tout, carrots and green beans. All of which managed to be cooked “just so”.
Trevor report his sausage ring to be excellent and the same for the champ and gravy.
We finished up with a couple of standard coffees.
Not just any loo!
The Gents loo is also worth a mention as it resembles a Victorian apothecary’s. Beware the hand dryers which are designed to remove the skin along with the water!
We returned to Belfast via the now opened Newry Bypass. Unfortunately no-one was offering gifts for being one of the first 1000 cars.
Having said this there were lots of police out with little books and those flashy black things they are so fond of pointing at people.
No doubt we will revisit this excellent hostlery at some point in the not too distant future.
As I was in town for a meeting thought I’d better check up and see that Deanes was keeping up it’s standards so I met up with Josephine and we headed for Howard Street. The board outside showed the special of the day to be whole sole, so that solved the choice problem; and they had not run out of Pinot Grigio. The sole came on the bone with a light lemon butter and was accompanied by green beans and new potatoes. Josephine is not a great lover of beans of any variety so that was my gain. We shared (2/3 to me) a crème brûlée which came in a sweet dish almost the size of a soup plate. Enough said, the standard and service are as good, if not better, than they were in April.