Friday, 3 March 2017

The Waggon & Horses (by True North) at Millhouses

New month and another new venue for the True North chain. They now have ten places dotted around the Steel City and slightly beyond with the most recent being the Waggon and Horses situated roadside next to Millhouses Park.

Excitedly approaching.......
The Waggon is an impressive coaching inn dating back to about err, ages ago. However, recent incarnations as a grill restaurant and an ill-fated period as a pesto place have flunked. Success at the Broadfield and its ilk has been based on quality in beer, food, service and the whole ambience; True North venues thus attract a discerning yet quite diverse crowd. They seem to have the formula for success in these tough times for our local boozers. Beer-wise they also have a good balance between their own house beers, which are nice enough, a few other locals like Abbeydale and Bradfield but also nationally renound breweries like Siren, Arbor and Magic Rock. On a recent visit to the Broady I was even treated to an Evil Twin Ying, or was it Yang? Anyway at 10%ish this beer and brewery are understandably known Europe-wide and found there on a Monday afternoon on Abbeydale Road. Quality.

Millhouses deserves a decent public house. The Ale House on Fraser Road is fine and attracts a loyal crowd whilst The Millhouses and the Robin Hood are very much food-orientated and rather lacking in the range and quality of ales that many of us desire.

The Waggon and Horses opened on March 1st for the first time and I couldn't resist a brief visit on the Thursday, the second day in its reincarnation. The place seems to be neatly and logically split with food tables to the left of the building from roadside and the other side being more drink-orientated. Lighting was low and the music more prominent than I expected but it was busy with a mix of ages - from early evening dining senior citizens and young families to couples and groups out for an exploratory post-work pint. Round the corner were a duo of couples with babes in arms, which was nice to see. The proximity to the park will be key to the success of this place; Millhouses Park is an oasis for families with children and enticing them in here is vital.

The Waggon and Horses' staff were polite, friendly, helpful and diligent quickly quelling any queries from their potential public. I was swiftly given a loyalty card and the benefits of it were clearly explained. (I did have a Broady one at some point but it was 'electronic' and so rarely used and rarely requested tbh). Not sure on the decor as it was a bit dim and a tad too busy to have a proper poke around. Don`t expect a Broady-like transformation though! I did see some stuffed birds though which is great news for ornithological spotter types. Or really bad news, I'm not sure....

Vocation = yum!
The choice of ale was a little less than I had expected with True North on cask x2 plus a Black Iris stout and then about similar kegwise. Early days, mind and demand will determine, I'm sure. The TN session pale contain some sexy hops but paled into insignificance compared to the belting Vocation `Heart and Soul`, which was on keg at £4.20. Black Iris also seem to have close links to True North and their Red Rye IPA on keg was 5%, ok and close to a fiver. Add on a decent back bar with 30 + gins and all in all , the rebirth of the Waggon and Horses looks to be promising at worst. I reckon the reigns are now in safe hands. Ye ha!

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