As the years go by, I have grown to truly savor chance meetings with locals and fellow wanderlusts. It is indeed a unique pleasure of traveling. I am grateful to countless many for friendly banter and shared laughs over the years, if only for an hour or evening. And even better when shared over a pint! Of course, such meetings need not happen in pub. Wherever they occur, an indelible mark stamps the journey in time and space.
It was just a typical day at the pub, I imagine, to celebrate nothing other than the glorious end of the workday: relaxing with old friends, meeting new ones, and simply seeing where the night takes you.
There are two pubs in particular that I enjoy in Bristol, The Victoria and Highbury Vaults. (Neither have a webpage.) Both serve “real ale” and Highbury Vaults serves classic pub fare. I enjoyed the evening with a fellow researcher and colleague I had just met, now a friend. When we discussed where to dine, I said, “Well, I do have a particular pub in mind … is that okay with you?” She replied, “Of course. I’m Australian!”
Off we headed, happily. I had actually discovered this particular pub the first time I was in Bristol quite by accident when I was out looking for soap, of all things. (The guesthouse at which I was staying did not have soap. Don’t ask.) Who cares about soap when you’ve discovered such a gem?
Authentic pubs are unusual in character, and some go back centuries (literally). I have a broad palate when it comes to most things gastronomical, including ale, so I sampled several in 1/2 pint portions. All were great. The real thing; they are in fact referred to as “real ale.” I am yearning to share more information on pubs and ales, but such requires a bit more time so it will have to wait a few more days.
For dinner we shared two dishes. The fish pie included tender haddock mixed with green peas and carrots and topped with mashed potatoes and melted cheddar. I certainly also had to have a “jacket potato” while in the UK. Jacket potatoes are russet potatoes as big as your head stuffed with such things as tuna and corn, chili, baked beans, or cheese. We selected baked beans and cheese.
(It’s not really the size of your head. A baby’s head, perhaps.)
As I said: down-to-earth, comforting pub food. The haddock was lovely, a sort of fisherman’s shepherd’s pie. Honestly, what’s not to like about a creamy fish stew topped with mashed potatoes and melted cheddar cheese? And I’m sure many of you have had a stuffed potato at some point in your life. This isn’t much different, but it tends to come with fewer toppings and no sour cream (in a good way, in my view). I love baked potatoes, though it’s not something I eat all that frequently. Piled with baked beans and melted cheddar is quite tasty, and a good way to go for sure.
The fish pie was accompanied by a crisp salad of mixed greens, three colors of peppers, red onions, cherry tomatoes, kidney and Great northern white beans, and corn. Rather healthful, really -to balance out the cheesy goodness of the entrées, perhaps? Corn is a popular thing to add to salads in Europe, in case you are wondering, and it’s something I also do in the summer for some of my salads. Yum. (You all know how I feel about corn, now most definitely out of season, she says with a tear.)
No dessert this time around, though something called chocolate puddle cake sounded divine.
Jolly good, indeed.
No, I didn’t really say that—as I mentioned yesterday—but one of the two charming gentlemen I met at The Victoria Pub earlier that evening did.
And I rather agree.
Dr. P. K. Newby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through her writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, check out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more. Thanks for reading!