Beer & pub column

DAYS turned into weeks, weeks into months, months into another year. And along the way, stories I sought to write have remained unwritten.

It’s sometimes the way I’m afraid. Time flies when you’re having good beer, and there are only so many places any of us can get to.

Finally though, before the barrel marked 2016 runs dry, let’s catch up with one of the year’s better pub stories, one of the ones that has served as a fillip amid all the tumult in the industry.

Just over a year ago, we looked at the re-opening of The Winning Post in Bishopthorpe Road, one of the biggest suburban pubs in the city.

York Press:

It had been taken on by Malcolm and Fiona Tolladay (above), debutants in the pub trade, and they were outlining their hopes and aspirations. I planned to return after a few weeks, once they’d settled in, to report back on how it was doing. But, as I say, the year ran away with itself until, a few weeks ago, we finally made it.

My wife, son and I popped in for Sunday lunch and were really quite taken with the whole place. The fundamental lay-out of the pub is obviously familiar but the service was excellent, the beer range greatly improved and the food top-notch.

Malcolm and Fiona’s aim is to create a family-friendly and dog-friendly pub that welcomes the whole community. So, a year on, how is it going?

They’ve refurbished the lounge area, added a new kitchen, opened up the back garden and created an additional seating area. They’ve made wall space available to local artists and they plan further work in the function room and at the front of the building.

York Press:

“We are really enjoying it,” says Malcolm. “We are on the cusp now of being nearly at the stage of needing more staff, and we’re hoping soon to be able to open for longer.”

Daytime opening proved relatively fruitless, he said, but as the reputation grows so too should demand.

“We are doing food now from Wednesdays to Sundays and we are getting a lot of positive comments about it.”

Alongside the traditional Sunday menu, the main menu changes with the seasons. The current menu has ten main course options, including various pub mainstays but also more creative winter warmers such as pork, chorizo and butterbean casserole, and roasted chestnut & pesto pasta with mushrooms. There are also pie, fish and burger promotions on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays respectively.

On the beer front, there’s always a good selection of real ales, including local favourite Saltaire Blonde, Otter Bitter and options from Mad Goose by Purity Brewing Co in Warwickshire.

York Press:

There have been plenty of events as well, making use of one of the biggest pub function rooms in York. There’s an open mic night from 8.30pm on Mondays (though not on the upcoming Bank Holidays), and the 2017 diary is starting to fill up, with a comedy night on January 12 (£10 in advance or £12 on the door) and occasional gigs, including one by Edwina Hayes on February 11.

In recent months they’ve also hosted gin and sherry masterclasses, with an expert taking guests through a range of drinks. A whisky one is planned for Burns Night on January 25 (£20, including food – must be pre-booked).

And if you don’t like any of those things - beer, food, music, comedy, whisky and a nice welcome - then I give up! But if you do and if you’ve not had a chance to try the Winning Post this year, then pop it on your to-do list for 2017.