Wednesday 20 January 2016

BRAPA - Bishopthorpe (It's near York!)

When I first got sight of the 2016 GBG at a family barbecue (late Aug/early Sept), one of the first real eye openers was that there was not just one, but TWO Bishopthorpe pubs suddenly in the Guide!  I've only ever seen Bishopthorpe as a place to walk or drive through when you are off to parents house or York college.  Even my sister laughed and said "even I've been to those pubs!"  Oh, the shame.

But it was still nice to get my regular 16:17 train 'home' from L**ds to York, cross the road, hop on the number 11, and before I could blink, I was there.  Easiest Midweek BRAPA trip ever?  Second only to when I realised the Grove in Holbeck existed.

Arriving at the Ebor, first pub I came to on Main Street
785.  Ebor, Bishopthorpe

I had that pleasing conundrum of "left or right" entrance as I walked into this grand looking old coaching style inn.  In 2014, I went "left", in 2015 I went "right", so it only seemed right to go back to the "left" for the new year.  I'm glad I did.  I was immediately hit with a big dose of Sam Smith's pub atmosphere, all calming dark wood, oak panelling, shiny brass and mirrors.  Getting served took an age (had I gone "right" I'd have been okay) but eventually a chirpy young chap in an overly tight shirt got me an OBB.  You could tell you'd left York because (a) it was dirt cheap even by Sam's standards and (b) the locals all smiled and said hello.  One group were loving it so much, they were in fits of hysterics (something to do with farming machinery?) and the laughter was Muttley-esque in the extreme.  I sat at the far end where I'd spied a welcoming fire, it wasn't a cold night but I like staring into flames whilst drinking OBB, it just seems right.  I was soon in a soothing trance, contemplating that although Sam Smith's might not have the best PR team in the world, but by gum they know what a good pub should look like!  And selling just their own products is kind of nice, who wants too much choice?  You only have to think more.  Besides, it'd be weird if they jumped into bed with Beavertown, Brewdog, BAD or Brass Castle.  I was surprised to see food served in here, I'm sure this isn't normal but the grub seemed reassuringly standard fare and not too expensive as an old couple settled down next to me for an 8 oz. rump with a "soft egg",   This pub is even officially haunted according to the GBG, so when the laughing front room group vanished without me noticing, I was a bit freaked out.   But what a wonderful pub, better than all the Sam Smith's in York I think, right up there with the Stockport, Glossop and Thornton Cleveleys efforts.

Perfect winter pub scene at the Ebor
786.  Marcia, Bishopthorpe

Another 'left' or 'right' entrance, oh Bishopthorpe you are really spoiling me(!) but this time, I spent most of the time wondering if the right side was home to a hidden Ebor-esque cosy snug (a trip to the loo told me it wasn't).  I may have been spoiled by the last pub, but it all seemed to light and airy, too many dining tables, and a pointless wall map of York made me wonder if this was a Greene King local hero pub in disguise.  In disguise because the 4 ales were local standards - Roosters Yankee, Tim Taylor Landlord, Treboom Yorkshire Sparkle and Leeds Pale.  All good "on their day" (well, apart from the Sparkle) so I went Yankee and quality was superb, I felt like it was 2004 Hole in the Wall on Hull's Spring Bank again!  The young bar chap seemed distracted by something he'd seen through the window, so it was no big surprise when he forgot to give me change out of a fiver.  The problem was rectified but the main 'boss man', a jolly rotund chap who screamed authority (not literally) seemed unimpressed with his staff and he kept criticising them, eventually singing "the wheels on the bus go round and round" loudly from the cellar, claiming he'd treat them like kids if they behaved like kids.   So I decided joining in with "the barmaids on the bus go chatter, chatter, chatter" might not help.  

Great Yankee, aggro sing songs - at the Marcia.
The bus arrived on time (when I finally realised I was stood at a bus stop, I think Bedfordshire had scarred me on Saturday) and without sounding like a total bus geek, I found the trip back fascinating with a choice of where to get off, I chose opposite my sister's street to remind me that a year ago, midweek BRAPA was on hold whilst I looked after her cat and was making this same walk home on a nightly basis.  Fitting.  

Coming Up Next

So two more North Yorks nights still to come, next week is Cross Hills near Keighley so it will probably feel like West Yorkshire,  It'll have to be Wednesday though because neither pub, Naylor's Brewing place or the new pre-emptive Micro open on a Tuesday!  I could also consider the pub that was in the GBG 2015 but there's obviously a reason it has been de-guided so probably won't bother.

But before that, it is London again and we'll be ploughing the furrows of the District line this time before a trip to the least threatening away ground in the football league.



  1. The Ebor looks truly magnificent, current leader in the 2016 BRAPA pub of the year competition perhaps.

    I'm intrigued by the Marcia, the landlord sounds like an entertaining little chap who I reckon I might like. I enjoyed your barmaids at the bar song, you should have sung it.

    You're not going to get into bus bashing or bus stop ticking or such now are you? You have enough on your plate with BRAPA. That said, taking an interest is very positive, it shows you are learning. How did you ticket the adventure?

    The least threatening ground in the League is surely Vicarage Road.

    1. Thanks Tom, trying not be drawn on keeping a mental note of 'what is winning what category' cos think it'll spoil the awards a bit.

      He was not little!

      Until they fit toilets on all busses, I will continue to dislike them.

      No, I stand by Craven Cottage if we are talking purely ground. Vicarage Road is admittedly lame but has no shared fans area I am aware of.

  2. Potential classic post, only needed a (pub)cat photo. e.g.

    You've jumped on the Sam Smiths bandwagon, name-checking the 3 hottest pubs in the country (according to Pub Curmudgeon and Stonch, and probably me).

    Great retro reference to the Hole in the Wall (RIP).

    Subtle dig at the micro beer in the Marcia.

    creation of opening times confusion in Cross Hills. I should check Naylors. GBG says closed Wed-Sun but gives Tue opening times. When I went it was only Friday !

    Tom is right about Watford. Fulham seriously damages your liver if you go to the White Horse or Bricklayers, but guess you've done those and just need Durrell ?

    1. I was even looking at a map of every Sam Smith's in country last night, I'm quite a fan and love their fruit beers too, which I normally don't!

      The other stand out one was near either London or Tower bridge, found by accident but what a gem!

      Yea, HITW still there but a shadow of the pub that Sean presided over. I think it only got in GBG when it was on it's way down sadly.

      I noticed that same Cross Hills anomaly but official website says not on Tuesday at all.

      Spot on with Durrell but there will be other times. Other two have both gone downhill a bit recently from my experience.

    2. Was this anonymous me ? I can't recognise my own comments from 5 years ago, so changed is my style.