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Dominoes, dinners and duplication galore
GAVIN AITCHISON goes on a pub crawl in Tadcaster.
HELL hath no fury like a dominoes player scorned. Indeed, I can’t help feeling that if I returned to the Bay Horse in Tadcaster today, two weeks on, she might still be simmering away.
The complainant, as I understood it, felt her team had been diddled out of a point in a local league match a few days earlier, due to a scorer’s error – perhaps caused by too much beer.
Or if you prefer: one too many meant the five and threes ended up at sixes and sevens. Either way, indignation was not in short supply.
Until that little commotion began, the pub had been strangely quiet for a Saturday afternoon. There was only my better half and myself struggling through The Times crossword, an older chap studying the Racing Post, and one or two regulars propping up the bar.
It was, in other words, a typical pub scene in a typical pub. The Bay Horse seemed a nice little boozer, few frills but nice and friendly, and with a few separate rooms and seating areas.
It’s a Sam Smith’s house so the beer was cheap as chips – the bus fare to and from York could have paid for several small rounds. But there was choice beyond what I’d grown used to in such pubs, due to the addition of new beers, or new variants on old ones. The brewery has joined the ranks taking advantage of the new lower tax level for low-ABV beers, so there was a new Light Mild at 2.8 per cent, replacing the old XXXX Mild at 3.3 per cent. The Dark Mild and Alpine Lager are also both now brewed to 2.8 per cent only.
Sam’s beers do not always excite, but the ales are easy-drinking and the novelty alone was a refreshing surprise. It quickly wore off though when I realised just how dominant Sam’s is in Tad. We’d ventured over for a mini tour of the town’s pubs, but although some of the buildings are fantastic and the staff overwhelmingly welcoming, the monotony was somewhat wearing. The pubs are not without their oddities either – one was selling Christmas pudding and turkey dinner, on the penultimate weekend in April.
Saltaire’s Raspberry Blonde in The Queen (at only £1.60 a pint) was a tasty find, but in the end I found most to write home about when I was back beside the bus station, at the Coach and Horses.
I reported just over a year ago that this free house was on the up, only for it to then close a short while later. Well, new owners took over in November and it is now serving four real ales and a variety of lagers.
Black Sheep Best, the same brewery’s All Creatures, Copper Dragon Best and Tetley’s Cask were all on the bar when I visited, and there was some very good food at decent prices.
The owners have five other venues, including the Gascoigne Arms at Barwick in Elmet, Muckles in Harrogate and the Old Tram Shed in Saltaire, although it in no way feels like a chain. The walls are covered in huge vintage pictures of Tadcaster, creating a distinctive local feel.
Jamie Macdougall, the general manager, says the food draws most people in but stops at 9pm, after which it is a traditional pub again. I enjoyed some chilli with the Copper Dragon, while watching QPR v Spurs in the back room, and – in the absence of dominoes – squandered a few quid on the quiz machine for good measure.
Apologies for the schoolboy error in last week’s column. The “What’s the point?” beer festival today is in Stillingfleet, not Stillington. Sorry to all for any confusion.
What did you order, order?!
YORK Central MP Hugh Bayley was the guest of honour at the Windmill in Blossom Street, for the official opening celebration. The pub was relaunched last month after a revamp costing £350,000.
Follow Gav on twitter at twitter.com/pintsofview