Contrary to popular belief, Tipton pork scratchings aren’t the ultimate snack. That would have been Mignons Morceaux, the flagship product of Phileas Fogg until United Biscuits ruined the brand.
In memory of the great MM, I walked the Medomsley Road* to the Royal Oak, slightly disappointed not to meet guys on street corners selling boxes of out-of-date Mignons like they do in proper places such as Levenshulme.
Medomsley isn’t the high point of Durham, of course. That’s Witton Gilbert, birthplace of most of Prefab Sprout. The place with the church on the hill isn’t bad either.
This is the first new GBG entry around Consett since the Spoons opened, with Durham manfully holding out against the craft bars and micro pubs infecting other counties.
The Royal Oak is a “Proper Pub”; I tell that immediately by the presence of a wake in the right hand side of the pub.
But the mourners aren’t hogging the pub (just as well, you have to pass them to get to the gents) and the Royal Oak is a cacophony of laughter. I’m sure that’s what he would wanted etc etc.**
The presence of Workie Ticket has the same effect as Bass or 6X or Tickety Brew Rhubard Gose; you immediately know a pub puts quality over fashion.
As it sits on the bar, waiting for expert top-up, I saw the specials board.
“Minced beef and dumplings – £6.50“, how could you resist that ?
And it gave me an excuse for an extended seat on the bench.
Perhaps because I’m old, I find I’m drawn to pubs like this full of cheery OAP diners, glad they don’t live in the south where Doom Bar and dumplings would cost them double and be served ironically. I can even put up with the excess of Sting on the stereo.
Significantly, a busy food operation was thriving, despite the draw of Spoons down the road. This was the busiest Monday lunchtime session I’d seen since Derby.
Plenty of drinkers too. “Carling Colin” came in at his usual time, his pint virtually pulled by the time he got to the bar. As Pub Curmudgeon notes here, Carling dominates the bar for good reasons.
“Had your hair cut, Colin ?” You don’t get asked that in a Brewery Tap, do you ?
No doubt many of the OAP in jumpers brigade (includes my Dad) are sticking to J20 and coke, but there must be enough real ale selling as the Workie Ticket was a malty joy (NBSS 4).
No “beer sommelier” could have found a better matching than Workie and that portion of mincy joy at the top.
And few beers will leave better lacings this year.
A contender for Pub of the Month, unless Oxford’s Pint Shop comes up trumps tomorrow.
“Byeeee” said the barmaid as I left. I love Durham.
*Google it, Dick/Dave/Russ
**I’d like my ashes to be fully integrated into the next volume of the GBG after I die, hopefully smudging Si’s copy when he uses his green pen