On a cold snowy day I started my researches in a new one to me, Alberts Schloss:
Actually not completely new, I came here last Saturday afternoon with a friend for lunch, but we were turned away at the door, no tables for eaters available. We took our custom elsewhere.
Anyway, the door guard was off duty so I could wander straight to the counter today, and anyway I was only here for a drink this time.
A waitress had to chivy the barman away from his chat before I could be served, he then redeemed himself by offering a napkin to wipe my misted up and wet spectacles while he poured me a lovely pint of Budvar Dark. I suspected this might be one of those card only places, but no, cash is also taken.
The large open room is decorated in, I suppose, bierkeller style. There are some long benches in the middle, plus booths and other smaller tables scattered around.
All very pleasant, bright and cheerful and comfortably warm. (I notice Northern Rail, having tired of cancelling trains, are running them without heating now. I know the price of electricity has gone up, but even so...)
Background music mixed with cheerful conversations as I enjoyed my pint and perused the menu. Pretzels, wursts (sic) and burgers. Er, isn't the plural of würst würste? Not sure I approve of this Deutschglish or whatever you call it.
I wanted to dislike this totally fake pastiche but actually it's rather good and I look forward to trying the food some time.
With one new tick under my belt it's time to try for another, the Duke Street Market:
Much bigger than the small frontage suggests, this is a classic warehouse conversion with the usual rough brickwork and exposed steel joists. There are six kitchens along one wall offering various food styles, and I must say it smells good.
I was pleased to learn from the "greeter" that if I didn't want to bother with the QR code and internet ordering I could just go up to the kitchens and order directly. I wonder if she only says that to "older" customers?
The place was doing OK, I guess, for a Thursday afternoon at the end of lunchtime, but a number of cooks and waitresses seemed to be idle. Having said that, it seemed to get busier as I sank my pint. The slightly too loud music mixed with chatter.
Time for a proper pub, I think, or at least something in that general direction. McCartneys Bar:
Goodness, is it really eleven years since I was last here. I have to admit I don't recognise the pleasant interior at all, has it been remodelled or is my memory failing? In any case, a plain pub with one long main room plus one or two side areas. Decorated with a Beatles theme, nicely understated.
Sadly the hand pump had gone since my last call, so it was Guinness for me.
Just a few customers were creating a quiet background of conversation to mix with the music. There was also the occasional click of pool balls.
I noticed an area of the main room with no tables, surrounded by various disco lights, so I assume this place is party central on a Friday night.
Can I get another new tick? What about Lounge 69 across the road? Is it within my purview? I don't think I can be bothered if there's no draft beer.
No worries, I could see a dozen keg fonts on the counter, so in I went. The greeter wanted to know if I was eating, and then she transformed into a barmaid when I said no. My first choice was off, but I was soon served with a pint of Stella.
I looked at the cocktail menu. Given that this claims to be a cocktail bar, only having nine options seems a bit limited. My favourite, bloody mary, isn't on the list. When was the last time I had one? Twenty years ago an ordinary airport bar in America would do a bloody mary, complete with a stick of celery, for "breakfast". And I seem to recall having one on the plane as well.
The decor in here is rather wonderful in my opinion, I don't know how to categorise it - Lots of mosaics and ceramics, and a fun use of brass pipework fittings as table legs and handrails.
Good decoration notwithstanding, the place is not doing very well at three on a wintery Thursday, I might be the only customer or perhaps there's one or two out of my eyeline? I hope they do better at busy times, as I really do like the styling. Mind you, they could do with turning the heating up a bit, there was no way I was going to take my coat off in here.
Three new ticks should be enough for anyone, so I think I'll head for home before the snow gets too deep (joking).
Beer of the day: Budvar Dark
Miles walked: 1.2
Maybe coming soon: Rice Lane, Southport, Edge Hill
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