Meat Wagon at the Rye

Having missed out on the legendary Meat Wagon when it was at its original home in New Cross I decided I must sample it when I discovered they had set up a kitchen down the road at one of my locals, The Rye on Peckham Rye Common, and find out whether the rumours were true and whether it is the best and meatiest burger around.

The Rye itself had a very relaxed atmosphere and on entering we were greeted by friendly staff at the small bar. The décor was certainly going for the ‘shabby chic’ look with purposeful distressed wallpaper on the walls and rubbed down paint surfaces on the bar and floor. There was a mixture of styles with the table and chairs, which were quite crammed together but this gave it an intimate feel. There is a massive beer garden at the back, had it not been a cold day we would have been out there but the roaring fire inside was more appealing.

I thought I should try a local ale and was instantly attracted to one called the Beaver. The bartender was kind enough to let me sample some and I was sold on it straight away. It definitely had a fruity flavour to it, which is probably why I was a fan. I should probably comment here that I am not an experienced ale drinker just like the occasional dabble. I discovered that this beer was brewed locally in one of their sister pubs The Florence, in Herne Hill. It was described on the pump as ‘fresh, floral, slightly spicy and a little satsumery,’ it was certainly refreshing and was a good accompaniment to wash down the burger.

I was not very adventurous in my choice of burger. I went for the bacon cheeseburger and my boyfriend went for the ‘Dead Hippie,’ which is apparently their take on the ‘Big Mac.’ I have to admit I was a bit feeble in that I ate it with a knife and fork but I wanted to sample every layer together. The meat was thick and tender and cooked perfectly for me being red in the middle. It crumbled and melted in the mouth. The cheese was properly melted to the burger. I did struggle though to taste the bacon. My boyfriend seemed to enjoy his ‘Dead Hippie,’ as it was quickly demolished, although apparently it was not as good as the original ‘Big Mac’ (I hope he was joking).

We ordered chips and coleslaw on the side. The chips were just the way I like them, thin and crispy and were a generous portion, unlike in other Burger joints. The coleslaw was delicious and was crunchy and mustardy.

Overall was definitely one of the best burgers I have had and lived up to the hype. It was all served in a white metal plates with blue rim, which made the experience more primal as burger eating should be, rather than delivered as a gourmet dish. The Rye’s vibe seems to be the perfect location for this food ethic to be housed.

By @immyshephard

 

 

Top five cosy pubs

For me, today was officially the end of the summer. Although we are expecting an ‘Indian summer’ to kick-in at at any moment- it was cold, it was dark and as I am writing this it is pouring.

With the cool Autumn days creeping up on us there is no better place to hide from the weather than a cosy pub. Either with a good book or a bunch of friends, a warm and intimate pub, with log fire crackling in the background, is the perfect escape from the gloomy weather.

Here is our selection of the best cosy pubs.

The Bridge Inn, Devon:

This traditional ale house is tucked away in Topsham, Essex. An absolute must for ale connoisseurs, you can enjoy the ten real ales in the next to a roaring fire. With locally produced food served daily it is the perfect spot to while away a dull day.

 

 

 

 

Fox and Hounds, Oxfordshire:

This converted rural ale house is full of charm with cosy corners to enjoy a game of cards whilst sipping Brakspear tapped straight from the cask. The quirky and rustic restaurant serves farm-reared meat and local fruit and veg., with views out onto the garden. An idyllic spot to relax and unwind.

 

 

 

 

The Durham Ox, York:

Standing proud at the top of the Grand Old Duke of York’s hill, this old pub features thick flagstone walls, worn leather armchairs and big log fires. With three bars and as many menus this is the perfect pub to have a long and leisurely lunch on the most miserable of days.

 

 

 

 

George and Dragon, Kent:

This pub promotes the use of locally sourced produce including a range of beers from local micro breweries. Filled with character, it has all the traditional features; with low beams, huge fireplaces and thick flagstone walls. A lovely setting to enjoy a pint and a good book.

 

 

 

 

The Black Horse, Somerset:

This ex village lock-up is a throw back to past times with a dark, moody interior, scuffs from centuries of drinking  and antique remnants decorating the thick stone walls. The ales take pride of place with six jacketed casks on display. Why not find a comfy spot and try them all?

The Guardian: Cheers! It’s a real ale renaissance

Despite pub closures and a dwindling lager market, record number of microbreweries are opening.

With the eager step of a man who’s just turned 40 and found his purpose in life, Paul Walker strides in his wellies across the flagstones of the 14th-century Union Inn in Denbury, south Devon, and orders two pints of Denbury Dreamer.

We sip carefully, appreciatively. It’s a fine beer: smooth malt flavours, a lovely light floral hop finish, not a hint of bitterness. A treat. Paul closes his eyes, nods, allows himself a brief smile of intense satisfaction. “I made that,” he says.

He probably deserves his moment of contentment. He’s been up since before six, won’t finish till seven, and will almost certainly have to nip back at least once during the evening. It’s hard work, being a microbrewer, and there was a time two summers ago, a few months after he’d started, when he really thought the whole thing was about to go under.

But this summer Hunter’s Brewery, just up the road from Denbury in Ipplepen, is selling between 60 and 100 nine-gallon barrels of real ale every week to 200-plus pubs across the south-west. Capacity is set to increase sixfold within months. Paul and his wife Eline haven’t yet drawn a salary from it. But the day’s not far off.

To read more click here.

Top gastropubs with Michelin stars

Ten gastropubs in Britain hold the honour of having been awarded with Michelin stars. Why not treat yourself this weekend by visiting one of our top five.

Masons Arms, Knowstone, Devon

Gaining a Michelin star in 2006, head chef Mark Dodson has created his own take on classic French and British dishes. The menu includes gaspachio with basil sorbet, roulade of Pork Belly with braised red cabbage & apple compote and aniseed parfait. You can enjoy the varied and adventurous food with one of their many international wines either in the restaurant or on the terrace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stagg Inn, Titley, Herefordshire

This was the first gastropub to win a Michelin star in 2001. Enjoy hearty and honest dining in the bar or restaurant whilst admiring the views of the Herefordshire countryside. The current menu includes seared scallops on cauliflower puree with cumin, cod fillet with samphire and a delicious-sounding vanilla cheesecake with baked peaches and amaretto ice cream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nut Tree Inn, Murcott, Oxfordshire

Bought in 2006 by Mike North, by 2009 the Nut Tree Inn was awarded a Michelin star. Set in a 15th century thatched building the menu is made up of exceptional modern British cuisine including pave of smoked Orkney salmon, Oxfordshire beef and Scottish halibut. Wash down your meal with one of their selection of real ales or fine wines.

 

 

 

 

 

Hand and Flowers, Marlow, Buckinghamshire

With a warm and welcoming atmosphere it is not surprising that the Hand and Flowers won it’s first Michelin star within a year of opening. The menu is a combination of British flavours and rustic French dishes including parsley soup with smoked eel, breast of poached chicken with pistachio crumble and english blueberry souffle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harwood Arms, Fulham, London

This is the only pub in London to receive a Michelin star, which was awarded in 2010. The Harwood Arms brings a rural charm to the centre of London with a menu comprised of British produce including Berkshire wood pigeon, braised english Longhorn veal and roast Aylesbury duck. It also boasts an extensive wine list and the finest British Ales and Bitters at the bar.

The Great British Beer Festival

Last week I was lucky enough to be sent to CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festival, pocket-money in hand, to sample the delights of real ale from the UK and beyond. This was the first time I had been and didn’t know what to expect from it, let alone what I was planning to drink. Known as the biggest pub in the world, the Great British Beer Festival brings a huge selection of ales, perries and ciders together under one roof. Despite the continuous flow of stories in the papers about pub closures and the apparent lack of interest in real ale in the UK, Earls Court was heaving. Walking up to it I passed someone asleep on the traffic light signaller, so I had an inkling that it was going to be busy and that I, arriving at 6pm, was a bit behind the game.

Step number one of the Beer Festival is getting a pint glass, once you have managed that you are faced with the infinitely harder decision of where to start and more crucially, what to drink. I’m being honest when I say I have never seen such a huge variety of beers in one place. Being of limited beer knowledge I took the easiest route, starting by the glass bar and working my way anti-clockwise from there, but for the more discering beer drinker (who knew what they were looking for) the beer signposts made it fairly easy to navigate around. Earls Court is cavenous and walking round it was like Narnia…past the bar which stretched into the horizon, between bespoke huts and carriages and finally landing up in front of the stage, where a folk band was playing. En route I had decided on my first drink of the evening, a pint of Sambrook’s Wandle Ale. This is a crisp and golden ale, not too fizzy and a perfect drink to ease me into the festival and quench my thirst from squeezing through the crowds. From there I wandered past Scottish, Dutch and American bars, constantly weaving my way between people who had clearly been ‘sampling’ for the best part of the day, wearing a variety of crazy headgear (despite the popular ‘Hat Day’ having been the day before).

One of the major spectacles of the festival was the huge Wells and Young Routemaster Bombardier bus. Hosting numerous ales and lagers, they offered the opportunity to sip your pint whilst sitting on the bus looking out onto the sea of punters. One of their ales in particular caught my eye, which I had to try- Waggle Dance. Great name. Apparently it is called this because bees do a ‘waggle dance’ to attract the hive to new nectar. The beer itself is a soft golden colour with a honey aroma without, surprisingly, being sweet.

As well as the countless alcoholic offerings, the festival had various other attractions to lure in pub and beer enthusiasts. The court was dotted with food stalls, all classically associated with pub eating- fish and chips, pie and mash, sausages, gravy and chips were all up for grabs, perfect after a pint too many! Countless groups, donning balloon modelled hats, indian head-dresses and traffic cones, collected on the floor to chat, drink and eat…resembling what I imagine a ‘Village People’ convention to look like. For the more serious pub-goers the shop had a huge collection of authentic pub ash trays, beer mats and other vintage paraphernalia. My brother and I spent ages looking through the collection of goods, I particularly liked rifling through the old beer mats (see previous blog post).

The festival was fantastic and a great way to be introduced to the many real ales available. I hope that there were other people who, like me, were introduced to the world of brewing, because the more people who know about the craft behind the drink the more likely we are to appreciate our local pubs and brewers. After a couple of hours of drinking, taking in the sights and listening to the live music, my brother and I slipped out well before the end of the night to get some much-needed dinner.

See you there next year. I’ll be the one wearing a traffic cone hat, munching fish and chips and dancing badly to the folk music.

For more information about the Great British Beer Festival click here.

Rose McCullough

@rosemcculls