Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Beer Blotters


When we are asked by the venue management of the home of the National Winter Ales Festival what sort of food we want for the event, my mate Graham, the Organiser, always chirrups " beer blotters" - "something to soak up the ale"; or as I alternatively say and add, "something to put you on, not fill you up."

On Saturday, at the landlady's pub, which offers excellent grub, a punter said to her after perusing the menu, "I'd just like a plain simple roast beef sandwich - no salad, no garnish, no chips". This was produced, the landlady being an obliging sort. It set me thinking that the good old fashioned bar snack - the something to put you on - is pretty much an endangered species. If I'm in a pub, I often fancy a simple filled roll, or the like, but rarely is such a beast available. If the beer is good, or just if  I'm peckish, I want something that will stop me getting pissed, but not stop me dead in my tracks and prevent a few more pints. Isn't that something that the pub ought to want too?

In the West Midlands and some parts of the country, this tradition is safe. Filled rolls are common in the Black Country and in the West Midlands, the hot roast pork sandwich is widely available, reasonably priced and welcome. In Sheffield at the CAMRA AGM, the adjacent Thornbridge badged pub had an excellent roast pork bap (with a few chunky chips) for just under four quid. Perfect.
 
Are a lot of pubs missing a trick here in not providing reasonably priced snacks as well as full meals? I'd say so, but what do others think?

The photo was taken two years ago in the Black Country and the cob is the size of a baby's head!  That's a pint next to it.

22 comments:

Curmudgeon said...

I was just thinking the other day how nowadays you rarely see plain sandwiches, which thirty years ago were a staple of pub food. Two rounds of bread, with a simple filling of beef or pork or cheese and onion, cut into quarters.

Mark said...

Yeah, good shout. It's something that's often missing from a good pub. Lot's of places that'll sell you a really decent main course, but not many that will sell you a decent, simple snack.

On the Manchester/Huddersfield Twissup, the place attached to Huddersfield station did me a decent roll.

BeerBirraBier.

TIW said...

A decent pie is the perfect companion to a pint, but the only place in London that I can think of that does them is the Olde Mitre, which also do sausage rolls and Scotch eggs at £1.50(ish) a pop. The Harp, of course, does sausage sarnies cooked on a George Formby grill thingy behind the bar.

Velky Al said...

One of my favourite beer snacks when I was in Prague was topinky - simple fried rye bread, onto which you rubbed a clove of garlic. Sure, you're unlikely to pull, but great for soaking up the booze.

If you were inclined to pull, then pivni syr (beer cheese) was just as good - mush up the semi-hard cheese, with mustard, onions and paprika, slop in a dash of whatever beer you are drinking at the time and hey presto, a cheesy, beery paste to spread on yet more rye bread.

Actually, reading that back again, perhaps pivni syr is not so great if you are out on the pull. Thank goodness for the tolerant nature of Mrs Velkyal!

Mark said...

Homemade scotch eggs should be a staple in all good pubs, I think. Likewise, I think all good pubs should have a snack menu alongside their larger food menu - simple sandwiches, pasties, pies. I rarely want a full meal if I'm out drinking but I'll gladly buy a scotch egg in one pub and a sausage sandwich in another.

RedNev said...

The toasted cheese sandwiches in the Carnarvon Castle in Liverpool usually go down well, and my local in Southport does lunchtime snacks - but I agree pubs probably are missing a trick.

Tyson said...

I recognise that cob. It was in the Bulls Head at Sedgley and cost a bargain £1.20. Proper pub food.

The Beer Justice said...

Best pub snack in the Black Country ? Grey peas and bacon !

Leigh said...

Mate, you've hit the nail on the head. Too many pubs overthink things when it comes to food. Pies, Rolls, Sausage Rolls, that's the sort of fare I'd like to see more of. These days it's either crisps or Crab Linguine or some such offering.

Ghost Drinker said...

If that was your sandwhich I hope they offered you a plate before dumping it on a bar mat Tandy. Can't beat a plain old sausage or bacon sandwhich IMO. :) mmmm bacon....

Tandleman said...

All good suggestions and I agree with Mark D about Scotch eggs. Even good "bought" ones would be fine.

Velky Al: I think your snack (which I have had) is good, but perhaps a step too far for the UK?

RedNev - Ah - toasties. Almost perfect.

Ghostie: Clearly you are a main meal man. The cob was covered in cling film. That is the plate my posh friend!

Quite right about the butties though.Sorry. Sandwiches.

Curmudgeon said...

Another peculiarity is that many pubs that do serve snacks and sandwiches during the week only offer full meals on Sundays.

Ghost Drinker said...

Not really a main meal man, I only have a small stomach (little and often is my motto). Some plain bacon on a couple of slices of buttered bread would do me super! (I didn't say it had to be a china plate, paper would my choice - less washing up)

Simon Johnson said...

I remember a Salford pub with a hotbox full of pies. Made sure I had one as it was the first pub on a crawl and, as you say, you need a bit of soakage.

Derby pubs, especially those near the station, are good for filled cobs. The Brunswick and Smithfield have some made up for when the kitchen's shut and the Alex will go and knock you one up on request.

Birkonian said...

I was in the wonderful Cock Hotel in Wellington, Shropshire on Saturday. Eight wonderful real ales and the best pork pies in the world (allegedly) from Ryan's in Much Wenlock.

Erlangernick said...

Not sure if this is topical or not, since it was enjoyed by me at a table --not at the bar, it was hot, and it cost a wee bit more than a couple of quid. But it was fecking good.

I give you the Slutty Rutty Butty from the Rutland Arms in Sheff:
http://i56.tinypic.com/mkk689.jpg

Unfortunately that wasn't enough to keep me from getting thoroughly pissed that night (well I'd just arrived that day) and droning on and on about how great Citra hops are to anyone who would "listen" until the wee hours.

"Eddie Rowles" said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
"Eddie Rowles" said...

The Crown Posada in Newcastle used to do lovely toasties - my favourite had a curry filling. Nothing authentic of course but more of a Vesta curry-style, complete with sultanas. Lovely!

The Southampton Arms does a good line in beer blotters - scotch eggs, pork pies and pork rolls - not hint of a salad in sight.

But it is also hard to find a decent plain sandwich on the High Street - I love a corned beef sandwich but they're hard to find these days...

Matt said...

One of the reasons the Railway in Greenfield is my favourite stop on the transpennine real ale trial is the pork pies. Scotch eggs come a close second as a perfect pint accompaniment.

Curmudgeon said...

A further annoying feature is how many pubs (including one I visited a lunchtime today) offer all their "sandwiches" (in reality ciabattas, wraps and suchlike) with chips. Surely if you just want a sandwich-type snack, you don't want chips.

Tandleman said...

Mudgie - Surely you should have the choice?

Martin said...

Well I really, REALLY miss pub grub of the past.. "Have you got any food?"... "Well I could do you a ham sandwich... we've also got them eggs in the jar and the little biscuits with the cheese triangle and pickled onion in them pastic bags..."

But times change :-(

Pubs are closing :-( and the only thing that can keep them going in the modern world seems to be pub food - acceptable to the average punter.

A couple of years ago I thought I'd put together a website that might help pubs advertise their "pub meal deals". Any pub can send me info. and get put on my site FREE! I hope this site will help keep some struggling pubs going.

Visit my site which lets pubs advertise their Pub Meal Deals.

Cheers guys and Happy New Year!

Martin