Sunday 30 October 2016

BRAPA - East Yorkshire Hallow-eve Special

With the veil between life and death at it's thinnest (just look at the zombies on York's number 7 bus to the Designer Outlet), this is my favourite time of year and the Autumn colours were amazing.  Mr SatNav confused Dad, who, despite knowing East Yorkshire inside out,  obeyed the command like some Lurch like character and soon, we were stuck in traffic at the 'pretty market town' that people know as Beverley.  Or as I call it, Overrated Suffocation Bullshitsville.

Yes, BRAPA is back.

Hornsea is a special little place, known mainly for a famous "closed in the 1980's" pottery, a boarding school my Dad went to about 300 years ago, and a mass of traffic heading purposefully east as if they either (a) don't realise the coast is there or (b) are quite happy to commit suicide.  

11:58am and lurking outside the pub like stalkers when the sign clearly said "OPEN" wasn't the best start, so it was time to go into my first BRAPA pub in what seemed like about a year......

924.  Stackhouse Bar, Hornsea

Mine host, Lucy, was everything you'd expect from a Micro Pub owner, personable, friendly, very Melbournian despite being English.  I think Micro Pubs fall into two categories - (1) cold, clinical and slightly weird (2) warm, homely and slightly weird.  Luckily, this was the latter.  The Hallowe'en decor may be cheesy to some, but I can't get enough of black n amber pumpkins with Mike Phelan's face, fake cobwebs and all that shit.  Love it.  The most notable feature were three former aeroplane seats, complete with seatbelts, one seat even reclined.  I told her "ugh, I've barely recovered from a 24 hour plane trip from Melbourne" but she displayed little sympathy.  We got talking BRAPA pre-emptives and ale, reassuringly she knew every beer from Great Newsome, Half Moon and Hop Studio yet had never heard of Titanic or Plum Porter which is the most East Yorkshire attitude you could wish for.  She ramped up the rivalry with our next pub by saying they were darts league rivals.  Any hopes of sitting down and chatting with Dad were put on hold, you can't not be sociable in most micros and this was a rare occasion of when it was actually welcomed!   Lovely place.

Quiz Question (RM style) : What is the Hallowe'eny link to this pub name? 1,000 pts for the winner.  Clue : U.S. TV Drama.

Ghost of Jimmy Savile dares you to sit at entrance table

Table I wanted to sit at in window - note reflection of church opposite

Gotta get on the themed ales!

Plane seats - NO THANKS!
925.  Blue Bell, Old Ellerby

Back along the road where Dad and his friends used to drink drive in the 60's when it was errm, legal, was this classic pub.  We'd been warned about Sunday lunchtime dining so when we arrived at a near deserted car park, Dad assumed it was closed.  Except a door was WIDE OPEN so Mr Sat Nav said something sarcastic like "get a grip Bernard" and we wandered on in.  The opening hours of this place, plus the remote location make it the Anchor Anchor of East Yorkshire - not so much, "we are open and happy to serve you" as "this is a test to see how desperate you are for a drink".  Sunday is the only open daytime, yet the lack of food and customers were both reassuring and worrying at the same time.  I chatted to the barmaid about keeping up the Hallowe'en ale theme as I ordered a "Red Fang", and I alluded to the darts rivalry with Stackhouse which didn't really work.  Probably cos it doesn't exist.  We found a snug (unlit fire but still snug)  with a huge collection of mini teapots, owl pictures and displays of garlic cloves.  It was very odd.  And then a mad biker woman about three rooms away shouted to me that she was sorry for blocking the heat from the other fire, though obviously I couldn't benefit from 'three room away heat', strange woman!   Then more mad bikers arrived, apologised to us just for existing, which doesn't bode well, so we left before they had chance to unleash their full cycling twattery on the pub.

The pub is open, and I'm ready to go in!

Dad enjoying his pint a bit too much

Owl decor is always the best kind of decor. 
I have a plan in place for finishing East Yorkshire's BRAPA ticks next week, so for now, we hot-footed it down to Market Weighton.

Despite it being 2:30pm, a man who looked important was leaning on a gate outside our (very closed) designated pub.  I got out of the car, by which time, he'd got into a car, and tried to reverse over me.  He used it to practically pin me to the pub door and asked what my game was, when I asked when he was opening, he said 3pm.

3pm on a Sunday?  I didn't argue, one foot on the reverse pedal and I'd have been squished.  Luckily, a pre-emptive was nearby......

Weighton Whippet, Market Weighton

For the third time today, there was an element of surprise to see it open - a tiny Micropub this one, and a man, not unpleasant, in fact quite nice if a bit full of himself in a Yorkshire way, told us he was in temporary charge.  He apologised for only 2 beers being on but the owner was away and the pub doesn't reopen til Thursday and everyone was 'caning' it on Saturday night, so it's not worth their while putting new ones on blah blah blah, yes I get the picture.   About 10 ciders on though!  "You sure you want the dark beer?" he asked me about 5 times, "personally I can't stand dark beers!"  The guy was Dick, of Dick's brewing who brew Big Head - a 'cheeky' named beer I once drank in Lastingham before I got ill from their soup (allegedly).  He's a "cuckoo" brewer meaning he uses other breweries to make his recipes.  Interesting concept.  It was a cosy little pub with the added quirk of a tortoiseshell butterfly having to be let out for it's evening flyabout, I like a good pub pet.  Yet the pub was not a patch on the Stackhouse, it must have a chance of getting into GBG one year if it stays in existence.

The two beers, mine is a dark saison which was an unpopular choice with Dick.

The kind of wallpaper to keep you awake at night.

Most drunk I've ever looked in a BRAPA photo! 
3pm then and the pub was finally opened.  Dick had told us this was their first day opening following a big refurbishment.  So in a sense, we were lucky to get in at all.

926.  Carpenters Arms, Market Weighton

We were greeted by a demonic goateed ginger chap of kindly nature, who later came over to make sure we were going to at least try and play chess on the 'historic' board on our table, really nice guy (Dad won when I surrendered my Queen in what I'd assumed were friendly opening exchanges - poor excuse I know!)   So what of the refurb?  Well, it is hard to tell when you haven't been in before so I shouldn't be too harsh, but I'm afraid this is BRAPA so here goes.  The smell of paint was perhaps inevitable, but still off putting.  The purple and cream colour scheme was most unpubby.   Watercolours for artwork were pretty lame.  The beer range of Hobgoblin, Doom Bar, Landlord or Black Sheep didn't seem to be part of a chain, which made the blandness all the more excruciating though having said that, the TT Landlord was very good.  And the little stereo plugged in to a wall looked like it had been left there by the plasterers/builders.  Listening to the locals (a spirited bunch), they seemed to be convincing themselves it was a decent refurb, very much like my recent fly-by-night visit to the Grapes in Liverpool would suggest.  So this is why Weighton Whippet may have been a more valuable pre-emptive than I first realised.

Hobgoblin chess anyone? 

Really good quality pint

I hope this photo encapsulates my problem with the "refurb". 
Me and Dad did what we normally do in Market Weighton (though usually at 11pm after a 0-3 home defeat against Cambridge in 1993) and went to the chippy.  We suggested the sign on the way into the town should say "Market Weighton - it's a bit crap" with a sign on the way out saying "Market Weighton - well, we tried to warn you".  The new giant Tesco doesn't help.

It's been a crazily unproductive month for BRAPA as you know what with Melbourne and being a Best Man, I'll be trying to "hammer it" in November to compensate and I'll go into more detail on that in my month end review/preview tomorrow/Tuesday.


Saturday 29 October 2016

ARAPA - Australian "Real Ale" Pub Adventure Pt 2 ("Pubs" 6-11)

Tuesday was the day I was most knackered in Melbourne, only 3 hrs sleep despite being exhausted can only be a result of jet-lag confusing my brain into not knowing what timezone it should be in.

East of the city where the posher clothes shops were, I'd actually found a brew pub so it obviously needed to be visited.

6.  Crafty Squire, Melbourne

Despite the constant championing of the hopelessly optimistic Outdoor Roof Terrace, it was a freezing cold day and a porter in front of the fire was more the order of the day, perhaps not the kind of image that a Brit would get of Melbourne but if it works for me in Knottingley on a Tuesday night, it works for me here too.  Plenty of James Squire ales were available of all style, and the chap who looked like he could be called James Squire seemed happy to run through the selection even if I had made my mind up pretty quick about the porter.  For Alanna, it was lemonade time and a look of bemusement that beer can be black - not sure I'll be converting her to ale any time soon.  Two businessmen were enjoying a 17 hour lunch break over a few dozen pints, and a woman who'd lost her child was propping up the bar with an air of Prisoner Cell Block H about her, but all was quiet otherwise.  We had a 4pm work start and wanted a coffee to wake us up so even I didn't linger to try a different beer.

At least 11 ales on, I'd have tried them all if I'd not been working!

A not very real but still welcoming fire.

Me in front of the brewing equipment, very Sheffield Tap

After a better night's sleep, Wednesday was probably the highlight of my time in Melbourne.  A bright sunny morning, a nice breakfast, a walk around Southbank, a terrifying trip to Eureka Skydeck 88 and most importantly, the Neighbours tour.  Just two regrets of the tour, sadly I didn't get to meet Carla Bonner, as I could have told her I once described her as being like Reading.  Travis Burns seemed a nice chap, but I guess he's probably more Newbury.  Just don't ask me which character Maidenhead is.

A pigeon shat on my head just as this photo was taken - it is a sign of good luck!
More Newbury than Reading.
After all that palarva, we were more than ready for lunch and Alanna had been recommended this great sounding place by an old friend .....

7.  State of Grace, Melbourne

Despite being on auto-pilot to find bar, ales and drink (and then ask awkward questions about dining later), Alanna made sure we were shoehorned into a back room where a sullen waitress with a British accent served me some crazy Oz fish and I'd just about remembered the name of one of the ales I'd seen, something about a rabbit I think.  The place was quirky, highlight being a giraffe head sticking out from the wall, a hidden underground cocktail bar, and the doors disguised by so much decor, it was impossible to find the toilets.  If you've been to the Duck & Drake in Leeds with the acoustic guitar as a door handle, you can understand what I mean.    All this quirkiness made the miserable staff attitude harder to take, when you think how generally amazing the customer service is in Melbourne.  Whilst i gulped down my amazing fish risotto thing (meal of the week) and drank my weird dark ale, Alanna moaned about goats cheese so I listened to the "power business couple" next to us who seemed to be champagne and wine bloggers, the absolute scum.  Very clumsy too, dropping glasses and pepper pots at any given opportunity.  I thought beer bloggers were annoying, but at least their attitude was 'people are allowed to like what they like' which was refreshing.  Weird place.   

I kinda wanted a pint of Fosters after seeing this

A very nice meal indeed, no idea what it was!
By Thursday, me and Alanna decided to separate so she could go shopping and I could have what was more of a 'traditional' BRAPA experience, albeit in a very untraditional way.  After brekkie at favourite 'go to' place The Bank on Collins, I did some touristy shopping of my own before 12 noon opening time.  

Down a little snicket, I was nearly mown down by an Aussie Iain Duncan Smith (AIDS) but managed to circumnavigate so very enthusiastic smokers outside to find this little cracker .....

8.  Penny Blue, Melbourne

This was a dimly lit but very classy little bar with some amazing furniture, a "World of Beer" wall like a bookcase but with bottles, and a periodic table of beer styles in the gents, perfect for someone struggling with Chemistry A-levels as I did.  The welcome I got from the young chap was verging on "manic", but in a good way and when he said "let me start you off on this beer", I was quick to say "woah, hang on, you say 'start me off' as though I'm staying for more!".  Bad mistake, he was sulking with me after that and joined the others in smoking aggressively though the open window, whilst the ghost of Steve Irwin wheeled in a beer barrel and nearly ran over his own feet. In other news, my emergency beermat was required for this first time this holiday which shows how well Aussie bars/pubs do for beermats.  But it was a mere blot on a good experience, one of the most relaxed I'd felt all holiday - errrm, I mean "business trip!"  As a postscript, I brought Alanna here on the Saturday knowing it was more her style, an equally manic barmaid played a good selection of 00's ska-punk before letting herself down with an Aqua double A-side!  Got chatting to a really passionate beer man half working behind the bar, and after a couple of bottled recommendations went well, he casually mentioned he had a CASK ALE PUMP ON!  What?  Well, it was hiding at the far end behind a menu ala the Deuchers in Largs JW Sharps Bar, with a grimy ink blotted pump clip.  It was a german style, but unmistakably cask, chocolate, smooth, nearly room temp, not fizzy.  Heaven.  Cask ale in Melbourne, it can be done!  

An amazing bottled ale from NZ I was recommended on the Saturday.

Emergency beermat gets an airing, but where is Coton? 

The Museum of Beer.

The Periodic Table of Beer Styles

Peculiar furniture was a big feature.
Buoyed by this experience, I hot-footed it down to the Flinders Street area which I hadn't really seen - it was the best weather so far, almost roasting in the 23 degree sunshine!  

A seagull eye-balled me from the pub sign, but it was time to go in......

9.  Beer DeLuxe, Melbourne

Finding the entrance was weird, it felt like some kind of arts centre cum cinema cum burger restaurant with an astroturf 'red carpet' style walkway and a digital sign welcoming you, not quite the Anchor Anchor it has to be said.  A stressed out looking bearded chap tried to remain patient as I tried to take in the huge amount of beers, and I got the impression that this is a small chain pub, perhaps like a Market Town Taverns of Oz.  I had a pee and went to sit outside next to a huge group of Asian suit wearers who were making such a lame attempt to finish their burgers, even I was annoyed and I'm the smallest eater ever!  They'd only left a matter of seconds before seagulls, sparrows and some weird foreign birds with curvy beaks were all at the table, feasting themselves.  It was appalling, it felt unhygenic, but it was properly fascinating.  Not since I saw a rat steal a chip at the Horniman at Hays by London Bridge have I felt so revolted in a pub.  A sparrow struggling to take off as it took a huge slab of tomato covered in mayo back to it's nest is one of my abiding Melbourne memories.  The beer was amazing, the sun was great, and Flinders Street was chaotic with lunchtime commuters but it had a real vibrancy about it.  I felt very Melbournian.

"Tipping not just for cows"  errrm, what?  Aussie humour.

Hello Mr Pink Star toilet cleaning block thing!

Can just see pub 3 across the road.... not far to walk then.
10.  Young & Jackson, Melbourne

In some ways, this was the most satisfying pub visit of all eleven.  I think the reason was it not English themed, not touristy, yet still an actual fair dinkum boozer.  As I said at the time, you could really have mistaken it for a Holt's pub in Greater Manchester's finest.  Carpetted, beermats, nervous looking men watching horse racing and then placing hurried bets at some contraption just over my left shoulder, a good range of ales served by bored staff, and an old man with one eye even used his stick  to wave me away from his table because it was occupied by a "soon to be arriving group of Sheila's", though not sure that is a direct quote as he just gargled at me.  This felt like BRAPA - possibly my only issue being that they treat it's 1860's opening date with huge pride, very much like we'd afford a 9th century church.  Anyway, after singing "you've got no history you silly convicts" under my breath, I settled down to watch a bit of Perth Glory v some team with Coast in their name, and it may have switched to Melbourne Somebody v Wellington Sheep (which I think is in New Zealand so not sure why they are in the same division!)  Very confusing but a cracker.

I assume Princes Bridge Hotel is it's old name

A pleasing pub view in any country

If Thursday had been fantastic, Friday was the flip side.  Appalling weather, lost in shopping centres, and the pub we visited, well, I can still smell the 10 year old chip fat .....

11.  Charles Dickens Tavern, Melbourne

You enter down this staircase, but it was a very modern soulless one which made me think they'd missed a trick with the whole Dickensian theme, they could have at least had a few cobbles, drips of water, urchins laying in the gutter, and a youthful Aussie pickpocket who brandishes a switchblade knife but returns your wallet at the bar with a chuckle saying "I was only kidding mate!"  I walked in drenched, brandishing two huge boxes of doughnuts in a huge green jacket with a hood up.  The staff clocked me, and a friendlier place would have made a joke out of this spectacle.  Well, it was heaving with lunchtime drinkers and diners, reminded me of a York tourist pub such as Ye Olde Starre Inne on a summer weekend raceday when they can't cope with the amount of trade.  Dirty plates everywhere, the smell of grease, just awful.  I tried to defend it to Alanna at first as being "properly pubby" but once I'd sent her away with the doughnuts (put her out of her misery) so I could get an unbiased picture, I realised she was right, this simply was a shithole.  So much so, I almost started to enjoy it.  The highlight being an old bloke, who looked EXACTLY like the type you'd see propping up the bar in Rochdale Spoons at 8am, he actually OWNED the place despite looking extremely Dickensian with the snarl and face to boot.  My out of date (Dec 2015) Oakham Bishops Farewell was lovely, Alanna correctly identified my glass was filthy (not since Blacksmiths Arms in Naburn have I seen one so bad) so I supped from the bottle.  "THAT IS THE LAST BOTTLE OF THIS!" snapped the Eastern European lesbian, what was I supposed to say?  'I'm honoured to be drinking your 10 month out of date ale?'  I went back for a Sam Smith' s Pale, and sensing this made me a regular, the two barmaids started being civil to me, and then someone came along with a cloth and actually cleaned my table.  The magic had gone!  I drank up and left.

Saturday was our last day, we revisited Sherlock Holmes and the Penny Blue as mentioned, then it was about a 2 day journey home.  Fantastic experience, the whole week.

Plane home in my regulation Qantas pyjamas.
Now back on the BRAPA trail tomorrow for some Hallowe'en fun in East Yorkshire.


Tuesday 25 October 2016

ARAPA - Australian "Real Ale" Pub Adventure - Part One ("Pubs 1-5)

Me learning about Australia whilst supping a glass of plane lager
G'day Cobbers, dunno if I mentioned I was flown Business Class to Melbourne for a week?  Oh I did?  Are you sure?

Bad news from a BRAPA point of view of course, but hardly grounds for complaint.  Time to take the kangaroo by the tail and make the best of it beer-wise, imagine a future Aussie Good Beer Guide, and try and get to the best places outside of the weird 6pm-1am working shift!

1.  EMIRATES FLIGHT EK022, Somewhere over Tehran

I'd just hit two goals as my Grimsby Town side beat Southend Utd 4-2 away in a 4th round FA Cup clash, when travel buddy Alanna popped her head over my seat and suggested we try out the Business Class bar.  Perfect time for a celebration!  Two small areas of leather bench seating surrounded a semi circular island bar, reminiscent of some of Edinburgh's finest (well, in the most plastic way possible) as I baulked at the lack of ale on offer and joined Alanna in the most disgusting Mojito cocktail ever made.  "I don't know how to make these" stated our terrifying 6 foot tall Russian beauty barmaid, "I won't be offended if you hate it - I have thick skin".  I lied that it was delicious, as I know Putin reads my blog.  Just as we were about to sit down, an old ginger colonel insisted on kneeling on the entire seat like some schoolboy with ADHD, getting excited by the clouds outside.  He later stole an entire platter of sandwiches off the bar, giggled, and ran back to his seat.  Proof that no matter what "pub" you are in, there's always one tosser.  We resorted to an embarrassing tourist photo session, our Russian friend made me have photos of me working behind the bar, I even had to pour a rich English businesswoman a real life glass of red wine.  She argued I hadn't filled it up enough, and made me go right to the brim!  Alanna suddenly went a bit green, I thought it was my pro-Eurovision rant,  but it turned out she had chest pains and thought she was having a heart attack (not that she's a drama queen or anything!) so in true BRAPA spirit, I was left alone in t'pub.   Next up, I went for a breakfast martini - this time served by the lovely Toma from Lithuania.  She had to raid the breakfast cupboard in search of a marmalade jar, needed to make said drink, and then persuaded me to have a strong measure just cos she wanted to finish off a bottle of gin, or something unconvincingly Eastern European.  I had to take it back to my seat as afternoon tea was being served!

Shit mojito, but don't tell our Russian barmaid that.
Keep topping up that wine!  Note the sandwiches about to be pinched.

2.  COOKIE, Melbourne  

For some reason, I was still buzzing when we arrived at the hotel 11:30pm on Saturday night despite the 14 hrs from Dubai.  It was straight to bed for Alanna, but as encouraged by our taxi driver, it'd be wrong not to see Melbourne on a Saturday night.  Quite a daunting experience, and as I dodged unconscious or puking Japanese girls on benches, a man shouting "walk away!"at a homeless girl (was he in Cast?), and 5 young Aussie lads singing something that sounded vaguely like Waltzing Matilda, I considered that this was a bit like a more welcoming version of Wokingham.  It was a good half hour trek to the pub, allowing for Melbourne's stupid road crossing system, and a bouncer (not the Neighbours dog) asked me if I was meeting friends here or what I was looking for?!  My "I've heard this place serves interesting beers, so I just want a drink, is that allowed?" stunned him into silence and I walked down a darkened staircase into this dimly red lit bar, bouncing with music that sounded very much like Kid Creole and the Coconuts on acid.  I was served by an incredible hipster with handle bar moustache, but he was ultra friendly and gave me so many tasters of 7% overly hopped beers, I almost didn't mind that my pint was 14 Aussie Dollars!  An equally friendly cockney barman had to help me identify exactly what I was drinking (something with carrot in!) and with two young Scotch men farting on my leg at the bar and a selection of 5 different types of beermat, I felt pretty much at home perched at the bar in the reddy gloom.  I was going to enjoy Melbourne.

3.  IRISH TIMES, Melbourne

Sunday evening then, and after a day of top touristing, we were amazed to see that a torrential rainstorm had brought Melbourne to a stand still - EVERYWHERE WAS CLOSED.  Is this a thing in Melbourne on a Sunday?  It was very strange to us.  About my 5th choice on Google Maps, we stumbled in here but got lucky, as food was being served by an Australian Stephen Quinn,  and a few beers were on tap which weren't too boring.  We sat in a raised area and not for the first time this week, I tried to impress on Alanna the difference between a pub and a restaurant i.e. it is ok to go up to the bar, order your drinks and food there, open a tab,and wait.  Besides, service here was tardy to say the least and we'd have been waiting all evening.  Only a group of jokey students behind us seemed to get any proper service, and they were basically idiots.  Cottage pie seemed like the perfect comfort food for me, but the ultra thick layer of mozzarella combined with the richest red wine and guinness style middle was just too rich for any man with jet lag to enjoy.  Ugh.  Alanna felt a bit ill herself, but I (selfishly) made her stay so I could order a pint of each ale and work my way through the bar.  Any guilt feelings were short lived.  An old Irish wastrel kept wandering around as though in search of a seat/friend, but kept returning to the bar for another Guinness soon after.  The pub lacked warmth, and I'd have to say that whilst it did a job and felt 'pubby' to an extent, it was never going to win any awards for pub of the week!

Note the discarded cheesy layer removed from the top of the pie

Pub was busyish, though you wouldn't know.

The beers I tried in order.

Monday dawned bright and sunny if a bit chilly, and after brekkie we hot footed on down to a Cat Cafe where we chilled with some waifs and strays but sadly no ale was available ......

Looking for pigeons

Just do something you boring bastards
It was time for lunch, in a "English themed" pub that had been recommended to us.  I'd bought my deer stalker for the occasion.

4.  SHERLOCK HOLMES, Melbourne

So the miserable old locals didn't appreciate my hat, but I'm British in a British themed pub so fuck 'em was my general attitude, made more vitriolic by having to persuade Alanna that we didn't have to sit in the shoehorned-cattle-restaurant area to eat, and the raised seating by the bar with a shitload of chips (in a hopelessly impractical wicker basket when it comes to gravy pouring) was a far better solution.  Staff were lovely too, the confused man with "pie of the day" concerns, and the homely landlady - plus there were some top Aussie beers on to save me braving the likes of London Pride and Hobgoblin, which I wasn't convinced would taste that good on keg.   But seriously, were the chips supposed to be a starter?  No way you could make inroads into them (well not with my sparrow like jet lagged appetite!).  It was a lovely pub though, one of the gems of the week - pubby, homely, warm, friendly, clean.  So much so, we came back here for dinner on our last day where I did a lot better with a corned beef hash covered in the most ridiculous mustard dressing ever.  You know I normally hate dining in pubs, well the rules are different in ARAPA before you say anything, so there!  On this occasion, we got chatting to a lovely couple from North Berwick who were on an Aussie tour.  At one point, a surfer dude came in and ordered what seemed to be a schooner of "chips" (crisps) and I had to overlook the fact that crisps are crisps and are served from the bag without any pouring required, but who can stay mad with a pub like this?

Elementary my dear Everitt

View to the bar

Sherlock Holmes and Oliver Hardy

Too many chips arrrggghhh.
Monday night had been our first day at work, and knackered on Tuesday morning, we missed breakfast at our new "go to" place, so we had lunch there instead, meaning I could have a beer and review it for ARAPA - hurrah!

5.  Bank on Collins, Melbourne

This place then, was almost perfect for us as breakfast venue - how many poached eggs did I eat over the week?  Is that a Martin Taylor style blog question?   Let's just say good job I bought a huge bag of prunes to even it out!  I say "almost perfect" because the staff were hilariously slow.  Whether it was seating us, serving us (especially drinks) or bringing us the bill, they were comedically woeful.  When we interacted with them, they were personable, funny and warm, so it seemed a strange discrepancy.  One young lad who realised we were regulars complained what a busy morning it was one day when we were the only customers, tending to "ghost" customers at imagined reserved tables, all the while neglecting the real life customers, us - so bizarre.  Ironically, it was on a busy Tuesday lunchtime that we got the best service, and i had an amazing bit of fish n chips with a pint of some mystery Monteith's beer from NZ which the waitress would not be drawn on, despite my "blood out of a stone" efforts.  The place, a former bank as you can guess by the name, drew obvious comparisons with a really clean and ornate Wetherspoons and still had old features, plus an upstairs walkway leading to guest rooms - would be interesting to stay here if I come to Melbs again!  Almost brilliant, they even had their own extra thick beermats, which I stole one as payback for the service.

Inside at the Bank.
So that was the first half of the week, I'll be back for the final 5  'ticks' I managed from Wednesday-Friday.

See you soon ya flamin' galahs.