The Vat and Fiddle is the tap house of the Castle Rock Brewery and I would describe it simply as a proper pub serving proper beer. I have been treading the boards of this excellent Castle Rock pub for many a year and it has become one of our regular meeting up spots, basically our regular Friday night drinking hole.
Many nights we are moving on into the city to look for something to eat of one of MyFoodHunt adventures, but some nights we just want to sit in the Vat and drink our way through several pints of Castle Rock beer.
On those nights we often find ourselves in need of some food to assist with the beer consumption, so we partake of pub food sustenance as we sup.
I am not sure why I have not written much about those evenings until now, maybe I was afraid to let the blog encroach onto my home patch.
This is more an insight into where we drink when we are not out hunting for food and beer and just want to relax
My Beer of choice
Harvest Pale is my personal drink of choice at the Vat, I like pretty much all of their beers but this one has been the most consistent choice over the years and you can find it all over the city these days so it is a really good choice if you are out on a session. In the early years when we drank at the Vat and other Castle Rock pubs we liked their ‘Gold’, known by many names ‘Meadows Gold’, and ‘Stratford Gold’ just to name a couple. Once they stopped making that we moved onto Pale and have been devotees every since.
Checking out the Specials Board
There are plenty of pub classics on the menu to choose from but there are also usually a few home cooked treats on the chalkboard above the bar that tempt me as well.
I like their no nonsense stews and casseroles that they serve up in a big bowl with rice and sometimes with a side of garlic bread, I usually trade that garlic bread with my mate who might have chips or onion rings, this is not my first trip to the rodeo, you have to wheel and deal when you are peckish.
Just a few of the dishes that I have sampled;
I have enjoyed their take on Pork Stroganoff, you get plenty of meat and it is a pretty decent rendition of the dish. I like Beef Stroganoff and cook a somewhat healthier version at home, but this was kind of fun too with a nice rich creamy sauce packed with flavour. There is a lot of sauce and this is more of a dish to eat with a spoon. All in all it is Simple yet still good.
Chicken, Chorizo, and Chick Pea stew
Another one of the specials I have enjoyed off the board was the Chicken, Chorizo, and Chick Pea stew. I was mocked by my companion for picking something with chorizo in it, but I like chorizo and even thought it seems to be everywhere these days, it is not as annoying an addition as all that goddam pulled pork.
This is another bowlful packed with flavour, mostly tomato and the spice from the chorizo, there was a lot of chicken, the chick pea seemed to have been mashed up into the sauce. I enjoyed it, maybe would try it again, but perhaps would try another special just to share the food love around
Both of these stews were hearty warming dishes and although perhaps not that pretty on the plate, they gave me a little joy and had plenty of inner beauty.
Giant Yorkshire Pudding
Another offering from the specials board that we tried recently is a ‘Giant Yorkshire Pudding’ filled with minced beef, peas and mashed potatoes. Perhaps not so pretty but it filled a large hole and I suspect is still sticking to my ribs. It was pretty good value at £5.95 ish and was really quite a plateful. Now OK I know that the pudding came out of a packet, but I still enjoyed it and it allowed my body the chance to soak up another three pints of excellent Castle Rock beer.
Sausage and Mash
If I had to pick then one of the meals that I would recommend from the pub menu, then that would be the classic Sausage and Mash. This is another bowl of comfort food, they use some excellent local sausages which are solid meaty and herby. They are nicely cooked and served up with decent mash, peas, and a good gravy made with some of that excellent local Castle Rock ale.
Warning this looks quite a small manageable dish but it is very filling, and if you eat all that mash you might struggle to drink the next few beers as it fills up your belly
Surf and Turf Burger
I think that the best way to describe the Surf and Turf Burger at the Vat and Fiddle is simple Pub Food. There is nothing here to complain about. The burger or the turf is just a simple basic patty cooked to be cooked all the way through. The Surf is a trio of deep fried scampi / prawn type of effort. I found it best to pull them out of the bun and just dip them into the sweet chilli dipping sauce. Lettuce and Tomato were the other friends propping up the burger patty in the bun, salad lite would be the name, and I was happy enough with that level of greenage.
Bacon Cheese Burger
My companion nearly always orders the Bacon Cheeseburger by default. I too have eaten this a couple of times (hence the photos above). It is a basic pub burger that fills a hole (bit of a theme). It’s not gourmet so don’t come expecting the world, come expecting a solid well cooked burger with a good handful of pub chips. Expect to choose your cheese (if you are lucky) and a slice of proper bacon. Expect to get what you pay for, but do not expect to be disappointed. Sometimes you have to eat the salad inside the bun, but you are allowed to pull that out if you are so inclined.
Bacon and Brie Baguette
If you just want a snack they have plenty of filled baguettes (hot and cold) that usually come with chips and a tiny salad. My companions baguette of choice is the one filled with bacon and brie. I have found them all to be pretty decent. Other options include a Roast Beef and Stilton, and another with Home baked Ham, Cheese and Tomato, all pretty good value for just under £6
More often than not, half way through a Friday afternoon I get a text “Vat? usual time” and I find myself wistfully looking forwards to ending the week with a pint of Harvest Pale ale.
So what seems to have happened over time, is that in between those pints, I have sampled a lot of meals, and just to share,
sometimes all you need to find is a pub with good beer and a decent plate of pub food to keep ones soul happy.
The Vat and Fiddle deliver the beer and as you can probably see they deliver plenty of good decent pub grub as well.
Come for the beer, stay for a snack, leave because it got dark outside and all the lights got turned off
The Vat and Fiddle is located at 12 Queensbridge Rd, Nottingham NG2 1NB. It is just a few minutes walk down from the Nottingham Train station and the Tram Hub.
It is the brewery tap for the Castle Rock Brewery which is just around the back and if you want you can get a tour around the brewery.