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Archive for the ‘pubs’ Category

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ale

They make their own beer at Oliver Brewing Co on sight

Rale

Ale outside

Pratt Street Ale House

While in Baltimore we ended up coming here a couple of times for lunch and for dinner. Partly because its location was so convenient—opposite the Convention Center and close to our hotels—but also because after our first meal there we realized that the food is really good, fairly reasonably priced and has a wonderful convivial atmosphere and really friendly wait staff.

We sat outside the first two times at tables under trees that line the sidewalk. The next two times we opted to sit inside as the weather had changed to terribly hot and steamy. Both were fine in different ways: outside we could watch the world go by, and it did, in a steady stream of pedestrians and noisy traffic; inside we were cool and could listen to snippets of conversation at other tables as people discussed the merits of the local baseball team, the Orioles. On our final night in the city, there was a game on between the Orioles and the Chicago Cubs and many Cubs fans were in town. Many seemed to be in this pub as it’s on the way to the stadium, so we also heard lots of “go Cubbies” comments too. Remember that Baltimore is serious about its sports!

Rtuna

Inside—tuna salad

Rsalad

Outside—tuna salad

OsignBut, back to the Ale House.

They have quite a large menu with many options, lots like typical pub food. For lunches we tried a couple of their special salads: a crab cobb salad and a seared tuna salad with wasabi soba noodles and vegetables. So good, in fact, that we had the tuna again!

They are a brew pub and their speciality is Oliver’s Ales, so we had to try one of those at least once (because our grandson’s name is Oliver!), and their beer menu is impressive. One evening we chose “Staring at the Sun”, a Belgian-style wheat beer that was pretty good.

alemenu

An extensive menu

crabcobb

Crab Cobb salad

Rsteak

Ribeye

salmon

The salmon and shrimp dish was delicious…

For entrees, the rib-eye was good (Rod), but the really amazing dish was the salmon with shrimp, a mashed potato patty and wilted spinach. I would definitely go back just for that!

Address: 206 W. Pratt Street, opposite the Baltimore Convention Center and a few blocks from the Inner harbor.

tuna

…and so was the tuna salad!

 

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A great shot taken by Rod Mackie through the window to us inside

A great shot taken by Rod Mackie through the window to us inside

A Lovely Wine Bar
4069 Shaw Boulevard, St Louis (corner of Thurman)
Not far from the entrance to the Missouri Botanical Gardens.
Open Mon-Sat 11am-1am, Sunday 10am-12am

A delicious plate

A delicious plate

image

http://www.sashaswinebar.com

Rod M outside on the patio

Rod M outside on the patio

Our daughter lives in St Louis and we have visited Sasha’s many times, at different times of the year—in the warmer weather we sat outside on the patio but in the cooler weather people can still sit outside, as two outdoor fireplaces have lovely fires. Inside, in winter, there’s also a cozy fire with big stuffed chairs and couches around it. We sat there December 2013, to celebrate our daughter’s graduation from nursing school.
It’s a lovely place to go for a small celebration, or just to hang out with family or friends. Buy a bottle of wine—or two—and a cheese or meat platter for a relaxed couple of hours.
The last time we were there in October we were happy to use their new menu on individual tablets (some iPads), which was easy to navigate. The wine selection is pretty extensive (whites, roses and reds), plus there are a number of local beers too.

image

Sonya D and Nathalie M. Happy graduation

Sonya D and Nathalie M. Happy graduation

We’ve always been happy with the service there and love the ambience—informal, but bustling. The wine racks stacked at odd angles up to the ceiling are different to most others we’ve seen and the toilet doors are covered in wine corks—very innovative, as all wine lovers realize that corks collect up very quickly and then…what to do with them?

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The harbor at high tide---the Ship Inn is the large white building in the center

The harbor at high tide—the Ship Inn is the large white building in the center

Even at low tide on a grey evening, the harbor is still pretty

Even at low tide on a grey evening, the harbor is still pretty

RodharborStonehaven, Scotland: The Ship Inn

Stonehaven is a pretty seaside town about 20 miles south of Aberdeen, and we like to stay there a few days to relax after the conference in Aberdeen. We have stayed at the Ship Inn before, so were very happy to get a room here again. We did it through Booking.com so we got a pretty good rate, double with breakfast.

We had room 5, which isn’t the best as it has a “view” onto the trash alley at the side of the hotel, but otherwise it’s fine, and actually not too noisy, as the front rooms facing the harbor are. Rooms are not plush, but perfectly comfortable.

The breakfast is very good—juices, cereals, fruits, tea/coffee, toast and a choice of cooked breakfast, all served in their restaurant.

What really makes the Ship Inn is the friendliness of the staff, the congenial atmosphere at a local gathering place, and the location right on the picturesque little harbor. Lots of people come to the Ship Inn, to drink, chat and hang out—both inside and outside—so we see prams, kids, dogs etc. Parents can sit on the narrow seawall with a drink, while the kids play happily in the sand. Rodmeal

The Captain’s Table restaurant in the Ship Inn is also pretty good; great food, well presented, and some interesting combos. It’s worth eating there at least once, and it’s best to make a reservation, especially at weekends, as it’s very popular and one of only 3 places on the harbor (the others are Marine Hotel and the Tollbooth). A bottle of wine is well priced—ca £15—and a large glass of beer is ca £3.20-ish. The focus is on seafood, although there are other offerings too. One night we had mussels and smoked salmon as appetizers, and then sea bass as the main dish. It was served with 2 giant prawns on top and came on a bed of courgette (zucchini) strips, like pasta.

prawns

VivmealAnother night, we had the soups of the day (carrot and coriander, and the local Scottish cullen skink, a bit like a fish chowder), tuna steak on noodles, and salmon with caper puree, squashed baby potatoes, and green asparagus. All excellent.

A lovely place.

tuna

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Kosice, Slovakia: Smelly Cat café and bar, on Zvonarska cesta 6

One day, while strolling the side streets of Kosice, I came across a café with an intriguing name and accompanying logo: “Smelly Cat”.

Sign for the Smelly Cat

Sign for the Smelly Cat

Cover of the Smelly Cat menu

Cover of the Smelly Cat menu

“Why on earth a smelly cat?”  I wondered. Didn’t seem like a very appealing name. So, the next afternoon we went in for a coffee and asked the waitress. Turns out it’s taken from the NBC hit series, “Friends”, in which Lisa Kudrow played Phoebe Buffay. There’s a well-known song in the series, called “Smelly Cat”. The writers of the series penned the lyrics to the infamous song, but she came up with the tune.

Smelly Cat, Smelly Cat

What are they feeding you?

Smelly Cat, Smelly Cat

It’s not your fault……..(and many more verses)

Turns out, this fun café/bar is very popular, especially at night and especially with young folk. We ended up going there 3 times: once for coffee, once for a glass of wine and once for a bottle of wine and a snack, and really liked it each time.

Outside of the Smelly Cat one very cold afternoon

Outside of the Smelly Cat one very cold afternoon

 

Rod inside Smelly Cat early one evening

Rod inside Smelly Cat early one evening

Outside is painted bright yellow, and has seating with blankets for the cool evenings. Inside it’s cozy, with tables and chairs of different shapes and sizes, lots of framed photos of local people and bookshelves stuffed with books. There’s even a corner with a toy box for kids. There’s a good choice of local wines, beers, coffee drinks, cakes and savory snacks. The servers speak quite reasonable English and are very happy to advise on what to have. Prices are pretty reasonable. If you are ever in Kosice it’s definitely worthwhile seeking out this lively place.

Who would imagine that we’d find NBC “Friends” alive and well here in eastern Slovakia?

 

 

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What a lovely name for a pub!

Inside the pub one evening

Some of you may have been lucky enough to be in London and/or the UK for the 2012 Olympics (which ended splendidly yesterday), so you’ll be familiar with a very British tradition: The Local Pub. The local pub is a meeting place at any time of day, for friends, for work colleagues, for people out shopping, for families with young children. Young folk, old folk, any and all frequent these ubiquitous places—to drink beer, or drink a coffee, to have a snack, to have a meal, to have an office party, to gather for a funeral wake even. There are usually a couple of pubs on every High Street and the locals soon decide on a favorite where they like to meet, the choice made on other folk at that pub, on price, on ambience. I know many British people who will gladly go further on a bus to get to the pub that they really like.

Most of these British pubs (not just in London) have interesting names and signs and one could easily wander around, making a collection of those.  The WHISPERING MOON, a pub in Wallington, south London, is a great example of a very popular local pub. I am currently in London (not for the Olympics, but for a family bereavement, sadly) and we’ve been to the Whispering Moon a number of times.Local friends swear by it and its beer.

A very friendly exterior

The Whispering Moon (owned by Wetherspoon) is on a corner, right by Wallington Station and on a number of bus routes, so is easy to reach. The building has been there for quite a while, as one local friend told me he remembers going there when it was a cinema. It was a cinema for many years and became a pub around 15-20 years ago (he couldn’t quite remember!). Information boards and framed photos dotted around the walls now document some of the local history—the cinema, the lavender fields (which was a big industry in the 1800s apparently), the story of the railroad here etc. It’s fascinating just to walk between the booths and tables reading snippets of the story of this area.

The beer is good, there’s a reasonable wine list, and the food is not bad for “Pub Grub”. On Sundays you can have a traditional roast lunch, on Thursdays they offer a Curry Club, and all days there are burgers and chips (French fries), meat pies, salads, pasta dishes.

It could definitely be on your list if you’re ever in this part of London.

The Whispering Moon’s beer speciality is Ruddles

The pub’s Special Burger

Sunday roast with roast beef, gravy, Yorkshire pudding with a stuffing ball, roast potatoes and peas

 

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Glen Albyn, next to the river

On the trail of the elusive Nessie? Or tracking down your family roots? Inverness, on the Firth of Moray and the River Ness, close to the top end of Loch Ness (of monster fame) is a great base for travel and tourism in the Scottish Highlands. It’s a lively little place, with lots to do for the many visitors, including a variety of places to eat and drink.

Even if you don’t like/or drink alcohol, dropping in on some of the local pubs is a great way to meet local people in an informal setting. We found that the Scots people in general are very friendly and love to chat to people from other countries. Some of the regulars and the bartenders in a pub will come over to talk and often engage you in a spirited discussion about world affairs—you’ll find out what they think of your country even if you don’t ask! We also found these encounters a pleasant way to learn more about Scottish life and culture.

The price of a pint of beer on tap ranges from a low £2.10 to over £5.00

Of the many pubs we tried these are our three favorites, all close to the superb CVB next to the Museum. 

Glen Albyn, on the corner of Young Street and the river, just by the bridge. There has been an inn on this site since the 17th century. Originally a coaching inn with stables, it was rebuilt in the 1950s in the ancient traditional Scottish style, with dark wood panelling, high, beamed ceilings, dark wood tables and benches. Try Tennent’s lager—on tap, of course. Scots prefer their beer on tap, although you can also get bottles.

Harlequin’s “Watering Hole”, up Castle Street, opposite the entrance to the Castle. There’s an outside patio, looking out towards the river (for good weather), the bar area on ground level and the restaurant upstairs. It has a very nice, ‘genteel’ atmosphere, bustling with many local regulars. Many beers on tap are available—try aTetley’s bitter, or Calders 80/- (eighty shillings). Some nights there’s live music—we enjoyed Billy Morrison with

The Harlequin

his guitar and plaintive songs.

Number 27, on Castle Street (it also has an excellent small restaurant at the back behind the bar, where we ate a couple of tmes). It’s small and intimate, with a very friendly bar staff. A huge selection of beers on tap from around the world, such as Bellhaven, Miller, Leffe, Erdinger, Hoegaarden Weiss. The restaurant closes early, around 9pm, but the bar goes strong until late.

Number 27 is another great place

 

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