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Gavin Webster - Standup Comedian

Good Pub and Food Guide

This is the page where I pass on my vast experience of eating in the most unlikely surroundings and areas. To paraphrase Neil Young, I've been to Colliers Wood I've been to Scotswood and I've always had to have a stomach of stone.

Dont worry, these places aren't the Ivy or anything like that, just the eaters I've come across over the years that are worth going to. By all means ring me with some more recommendations.

PUBS 

THE STRAWBERRY

Well I might as well start with a favourite one, not only because of the football connotations but because it's in my home city of Newcastle opposite St. James' Park The Strawberry.

A scouser (Everton fan) once told me that he was sure that the Strawberry was a gay bar. Well apart from the fact it would be a bit foolish and financially suicidal to say to match goers 'sorry mate, this is now a gay establishment', the main reason why this is the work of fantasy is, how many gay clubs would have a picture of Frank Clark emerging from the tunnel with a ball under his arm?!

Like Frank there are pictures of loads of footballers (not just Newcastle players) decorating the wall. Add to that a fantastic atmosphere and Wallsend's very own beer Mordues on tap (I just love Workie Ticket a great beer, the name comes from an old geordie expression) and The Strawberry is as Newcastle as The old toilets in the Bigg Market, Dave Johns compering the old Comedy Cafe, Marlborough bus station, the poet's society, Neville Wanless, Terry Terry Terry Terry Hibbitt on the wing on the wing, the bender squad, The Kard Bar and many other things related to one of the greatest cities on Earth and certainly the best city that hasn't got it's head up it's own arse. By all means go before or after a game but do go any night of the week, there's always a heed the ball in that'll be of some amusement, you're guaranteed a conversation in the Strawberry don't be fussy as to who it's with though.

The Strawberry opposite St James's Park Gallowgate end, the antithesis of that pile of shite Shearers that sits smugly across the road. Go there if ever you visit the toon.

 

THE LEOPOLD (Portsmouth)

A great boozer in the Southsea area of Portsmouth. A great selection of cask ales of the light, the dark and the red in the hugely underrated city of Pompey. Also there's the choice of chemical cooking lager if you're that way inclined. Of course a pub isn't just the beer but the atmosphere and it looked like my sort of people in this pub. No loud music, no disco lights but also no false old England nonsense of a fire and an oak style galley bar, just white paint, a patterned carpet, nice people and clean toilets. There was a smoking area out back as there is everywhere these days but it's good to know these types of ale bars are thriving while the ultra trendy wine bar, fun bar, soft rock bar and anything else you care to think of that some twat from The Apprentice has thought of is on it's arse. It makes you believe in the British people again.

Anyway do go, it's on Albert Road just along the street from The Wedgewood Rooms which is a great comedy gig and not far from a Conservative Club which seems to get busy on a friday. Also there's pictures on the wall of old Pompey games from the early part of the 20th century. Did you know my great uncle Joe played for Portsmouth around that time and...........zzzzzzzz

 

THE PEACOCK (Mansfield Road Nottingham)

Here we have another proper pub. Two rooms, one was obviously the posh room due to the fact there was a carpet on that floor. A bit of a snug thing going on in the back as well but not in that Irish theme pub type of way, just a weird shaped room toward the back of the buliding. Another place with a great supply of beers. I had a pint of Spotted Dog which is a proper man's drink, looks like it was made from gravel and caramel but like so many beers tasting so appealing.

Deuchers was on sale which of course is a light ale and the usual supply of the popular stuff as well as guest ales. The clientele was quite studenty but in the old fashioned sense not the modern fuckers who like Antione de Beck and William Shatner in an ironic way.

All in all a good night will be had at this old fashioned pub in a good city and it's open till twelve midnight. Go there.

 

THE WHARFE, CARDIFF

One of my favourite cities, Cardiff. Also one of my favourite brewers Brains, a Cardiff based brewery (it's alleged that Tom Jones has the stuff sent by the barrowload to his Hollywood mansion) has all their wares in pump form at the bar and with that, this is one of my favourite all time pubs. I'm a little biased because they used to put stand up on here and the first time I played a gig at the place, I did two encores. It was one of those classic nights that I'll save for the book. Mind you the last gig I played there, someone threw a glass at me. It missed like and it wasn't meant to be for me but it was close to my head and it was one of those classic nights that I'll save for the book. I reckon it's probably the last night anyone ever did there entertainment-wise. It was orchestrated by the Soul Crew (the glass throwing that is) which is the Cardiff City soccer casual lot and the police arrived and all hell got let loose.

Anyway don't let that put you off. It's a bit naff with it's nautical theme what with it being next to a disused dock but with a decent selection of beers and a mixed clientele, I reckon it would be a great place to get proper lashed with good friends on a Saturday, one of them nights without music, entertainment, bar games or any such forced pleasures, but just a great night where the crack is flying around and the piss taking and belly laughs are flowing just as fast as the Brains. What's new pussycat?!!!

 

 

 

 

SHOBORAJ

Another Indian on Malpas Road Newport (that's the Welsh Newport, not the League of Gentlemen Isle of Wight one) and this is a proper nice place. They were one of them Indian restaurants where the owners wanted to chat to you and ask where you'd found out about them and if there were nice curry houses where you lived and other such survey like conversations. Another place as well where they boast air conditioning (this is Wales lads not Qatar!), I do like their enthusiasm though and the food was bloody good! One of those places that had their own style of hot curry with their own name, probably the name of the owner's grandmother. Never mind great service and nice staff, I had this then checked into my hotel, it made for a good night. Do go and then spend time in Newport, a nice friendly place a bit shite to look at (a bit like Gateshead without the glamour) but a fun place for a drink. Here is the full address:- SHOBORAZ, 30 Malpas Road, Newport, NP20 5PA tel: 01633 822822-822055 www.shoboraj.co.uk

7 BROTHERS

This cafe is on Gorgie Road in Edinburgh (the road of Hearts, Hearts glorious Hearts fame) and although that area isn't the best, it does have a host of interesting shops on it called things like Fantastc Turkish Shave (talk about doing exactly what it says on the tin!!). The interior is Maroon like everything else on that road and is very clean. The people that run it are Eastern European and were very curteous. The clientele were all walks of life, the builders getting breakfast right through to well to do pensioners having a pot of tea. Me being of the scum variety, I was having the massive breakfast. Haggis and potato scones and all the English stuff is what comprises a Scottish breakfast but with a view of the local prison and the Wheatfield Stand at Tynecastle, it makes for much more interesting conversation than a breakfast inside your local Morrison's with a view of a B+Q car park. Go there and while you're there take in Gorgie city farm, some of the maroon decorated pubs and of course Tynecastle home of the Jambos.

 

PIE MINISTER

See what they've done with their clever use of words, underneath Pie Minister they've put manifesto as well!! Well I like stuff like that, the greatest comedian on the circuit Noel James is a pun-meister and if it's good enough for Noel, it's good enough for the studenty types who run this establishment in the run down Stoke's Croft area of Bristol. In here you just see pies!! They almost leap at you as you walk through the front door, they're behind the see through fibre glass all packed in like they were pet pythons in a dodgy pet shop in the 1950s. The cafe itself isn't that remarkable but who cares about the ambience when you're having a pie fest. On their blurb they do say that the first pieminister pie was born in a basement flat in Bristol in 2003. They actually refer to that pie as a he (in that case he must be steak and kindney or something gadgy-ish like that), I hope they tell you what social strata the pie belongs to as well. Well I'm sure that pie is now at pie school, with his pie mates swinging his pie school bag round his head and spitting on old men out of the pie bus window! On the back of their publicity they do tell you all the awards they've picked up over their short existence. These include accolades  at The Great Taste Awards, Taste of the West Awards the Evening post Business of the month. They use local suppliers, free range eggs and they don't use hydrogenated fats. And they do regard themselves as Pie 'experts' which is not as good as enviromental experts but better than fucking fashion experts. Do go along but watch what you're doing in the Stokes Croft area, it's not exactly Balamory or 64 Zoo Lane

PMHQ

24 Stoke's Croft

Bristol

BS1 3PR Telephone: 0117 942 3300

www.pieminister.co.uk

 

WONGS

Once again this establishment hails from the slightly hatstand city of Bristol. I wouldn't be surprised if these weird bastards were the ones who'd inherit the Earth instead of the meek and even then they probably wouldn't be that bothered, such is their strange easy oozy nature.

This place as you will have gathered is an upmarket Chinese restaurant just round the corner from The Old Vic theatre. I went in a pub just before this and had to wait literally 10 minutes to be served even though there was hardly anyone in. Thankfully the chinese had no such problems. It was one of them 'meals for 7' (as there was 7 of us) and we dug in to all their meat and fried vegetable concoctions. It's always fun having those types of chinese meals as everyone comments on the fayre as it is being dished up and dining with 6 other comics makes for great fun anyway as all insundry in the comedy business gets a good slagging off and everyone feels better for it. The one criticism I would say is that they did get a bit upset when we hung our coats up and had the temerity to just get them back off the rail when we were about to leave. It didn't sit right with their cloakroom system where we were to get our garments back after their coat hook number had tallied up with the identical raffle ticket on our person. I'm not a number I'm a free man ( copyright Patrick Mcgoohan circa 1967). Never mind though, maybe they just didn't want people's coats to go missing. Do go if you're in Bristol though and take in some nonsense at The Old Vic afterwards (maybe a 6 week Little Britain run as that's all that seems to be on in the theatre these days) By the way it's definitely called Wongs, that's not be being casually racist!

Wongs

12 Denmark Street

Bristol

Telephone: 0117 927 7882

 

MANDARIN GARDEN

We are unfortunately talking about a really horrible part of Essex (yes I know it's got some stiff competition) here. Grays is one of those forgotten graveyard towns east of London. Apparently Russell Brand is from here and it does hold up to that theory that some of the most interesting people come from crappy places like this. Anyway enough post code bitching, here is a nice Chinese buffet, very reasonably priced with a nice line in soups as well as decent main courses too. Eat as much as you like normally means that in Chinese restaurants unlike other places so well done the Chinese!! This place is situated in their main street(!) and is very clean and the staff are friendly. Take a deep breath when you enter Grays but do visit The Mandarin Garden, it's a good place.

Mandarin Garden

18 High Street

Grays

Essex

RM17 6LU

 

STIBBINGTON DINER

This I feel is a good place to start as it's a good no nonsense transport cafe on the A1 heading south near Peterborough. If you like your Egg and chips, your mince and dumplings and your cake and custard this is the place for you. Don't expect a veggie option or crepes and capers and the like, just expect for this good old fashioned stodge to fill a hole for a few hours. There is plenty of parking as is the norm for a transport cafe and when you go in there do expect to be transported back to about 1974 judging by the plight of some of the clientele. Everybody just seems to be transfixed by The Weakest Link whilst eating their carbohydrate and chips broken by the occasional cries of NUMBER 74!! Do go and make notes.

STIBBINGTON DINER

2 OLD GREAT NORTH ROAD

STIBBINGTON

PE8 6LR       Tel: 01780 782 891 (you don't need to book)

 

TARANTINO

This is a snazzy Italian place in Hornchurch in Essex (admittedly not everyone's favourite part of the world) right next to the multi storey car park. I didn't know that Hornchurch had an italian quarter but these people were genuinely Latin judging by their broken English. The young woman who served me had more of an Eastenders accent but still had that Eyetie look about her (what the fuck am I talking about!). Anyway, the soup was fantastic and the main meal was of that high standard that makes you realise that a lot of other Italian places are very poor by comparison. Do go, its a nice place.

 

TARANTINO

51 HIGH STREET

HORNCHURCH

ESSEX

RM 11 1TP

 

THAI CONCEPT

Don't be put off by the name, this is not one of those places frequented by the cast of Coupling or a bunch of people from Hewlett Packard on a christmas jolly, well actually it probably is but it isn't on a Wednesday in November which is exactly when I went. The waiter was very 'Hello Sailor' but very efficient and so was the other waiter who looked like he did martial arts (a sort of version of good cop bad cop I suppose). As far as the food was concerned, I had the soup which was one of those great Thai soups,coconutty, milky but full of stingingly strong aftertaste flavours. Afterwards I had the fishcakes whch of course were Thai fishcakes full of flavour (not the big cylindrical rocks calling themselves fish cakes you got in chip shops in the 70s, the sort of things you could dowse in petrol and throw at the police) and garnished with lots of salad.

This particular resturant was in Barnet which is in another part of the world I'm not so keen on (Hertfordshire) but Barnet itself is not so bad with a lot of good eateries, the advantage of this place is it's next to the pictures (an Odeon along the street) and you can eat before the film starts or whatever you want to do it's up to you.

THAI CONCEPT RESTAURANT

4-5 WESTERN PARADE

GREAT NORTH ROAD

BARNET

HERTFORDSHIRE

EN5 1AD

(nearest tube station, High Barnet)

Telephone:- 0208 441 4003

www.thaiconcept.co.uk

 

MR ALI's EXCLUSIVE TANDOORI RESTAURANT

Yes I know it sounds like the name of a band on John Peel's show but it is one of the best Indians I think I've had the pleasure of visiting. The fact that Mr. Ali has put his name to it to such an nth degree and the fact that it's exclusive, yes they wouldn't just let any bugger in there, adds a risible value to the cullinary experience. Situated on the way out of the famous city where people puffily threaded cotton on to machines while the rest of the north were digging coal, building ships and making metals, it makes for a nice stop off on the way out when the traffic is a little busy a tea time.

The soup (Mullagatawny) once again was the clincher-spicy, fresh and hot,while the main course was strong, tasty and chickeny (that's because it was chicken that was being eaten).

The great advantage of this place is that it's open all day except Mondays (where the fuck do Indian and Chinese people go on a Monday!) and it's easy to park outside and has the full range of top Indian top ten hits to enjoy whilst waiting for your meal.

 

MR. ALI'S EXLUSIVE TANDOORI RESTAURANT

293 MIDDLETON ROAD

PRESTWICH

MANCHESTER

M8 6LY

TELEPHONE:- 0161 795 6124

 

BAGEL MANIA

Yes I must admit, I've never been in a state of mania over a bagel either but if you want a bit breakfast on Sauchiehall street in Glasgow (Sausage Roll street the locals call it and who would argue with those mad bastards!) then this is the place. All types of bagels and huge amounts of fillings and of course donuts, muffins, fresh soup and breakfasts as well as a plentiful selection of coffee, smoothies, hot chocolates and soft drinks, this clean friendly Glasgow food carry out definitely makes my list. Decent prices as well for a city centre and it is one of them places where you can eat on the premesis without paying extra for the chair and the granite work top to eat your food off. If your in the city of sin and vice where the people are nice make a trip to Bagel Mania.

BAGEL MANIA

338 SAUCHIEHALL STREET

GLASGOW

G2 3JD

Telephone: 0141 332 7358

 

NEW CHINA TOWN

Maidstone of course isn't renowned for it's chinatown area but there you have it, I've eaten in the New China Town in Maidstone and believe it or not, it's not bad. Situated in Union Street across the road from Up The Creek Maidstone (probably the worst comedy club I've ever had the misfortune to play) this take away with a few tables (they can get away with calling them restaurants down south for some reason) serves up good food for menial prices. Quite funny that they offer Hors D'Oeuvres which even I know isn't a chinese thing but let's not nit pick. Free local home delivery for anyone unfortunate enough to live in Maidstone and they do do a lunch menu every day as well including Mondays (it must just be northern chinese who go AWOL on a Monday). Do go if only for the 'Curry Puffs', (if I was Benny Hill I could have done a great joke there).

 NEW CHINA TOWN

25 UNION STREET

MAIDSTONE

KENT

ME14 1EB

 

BAKE AND BITE

With a tag line on their flyers reading, "Hungry?, come and see us for a bite" you know you're not dealing with anything at the Egon Ronay end of things, but then again who gives a fuck what Egon Ronay thinks, he sounds like a hopeful Man. City signing from 1995 that no one (even the scout) has seen play.

This place however was surprisingly good, admittedly it was very pastry based but when you're treated to Peppered Steak Bake and Chicken Tikka Masala Bake then it's going to be a bit different to the usual Pasty fest in these places. A bacon bap for £1.79 may seem a little steep to a northerner but you actually do get bacon inside it not a couple of rashers of man made placky pretendy bacon that you get in that crap place with the Scottish surname. Also pie and mash and sausage and mash are the order of the day and at a reasonable £3.49 it's not bad for your main meal of the day. Also potato wegdes and chicken Fajita wraps are available if you've got wanker kids who won't eat anything that was invented before 1989. All kinds of coffee are on offer and it's half price before 11:30 am which makes this a great non rip off haven in the see you coming south of England. Friendly staff as well. Do go and don't be surprised if you enjoy Southampton in general, it's a good city.

BAKE AND BITE

15 EAST STREET

SOUTHAMPTON

SO 14 3HG

 

BRICK LANE BAGEL COMPANY

Of course I had to mention this place. If you live in London and you've never heard of this place then you're hanging around with the wrong crowd. Although Brick Lane is very trendy nowadays it still boasts the best fast food outlet in the world. This place is always full even at four o clock in the morning. It's full of concert goers, taxi drivers, late shift workers, pimps, murderers, wankers, nice people, nice homeless people, nasty homeless people, couples, arguing couples and every language but English being spoken. I've felt a bit apprehensive going in there on my own but it's added to the excitement and at the end of it you get a salt beef bagel smothered in mustard which has a pleasure on a par with taking amphetimine sulphate for the first time. There are other things on the menu and you do get a slice of Yiddish cuisine but really the salt beef bagels are where it's at. Go, northerners and tell me what you think.

BRICK LANE BAGEL COMPANY

BRICK LANE

BETHNAL GREEN

EAST LONDON

 

TOLLGATE TEASHOP

Right next to Bath just off the A46 and next to the M4 this is perhaps the most Alan Partridge-esque, twee, wanky places I've ever been in. I'm surprised it didn't say on the door 'NO WORKING CLASS PEOPLE'. But credit where credit's due it was very nice. It says on the flyer 'Enjoy a variety of good traditional food served in our cosy tearoom or victorian conservatory with panoramic views to the Welsh Hills'. Well for cosy read small and for conservatory read small as well. The food though is obviously made fresh (it's terrible that you have to say that these days, it implies quite rightly that most stuff has been frozen for three months) and the salad and veg comes from a local producer (probably some West country bod who goes on the countryside marches and votes UKIP and rings Dimbelby a lot on Radio 4). I had the cottage pie that was well cooked and the soup preceding that was of the usual home made high standard. Sorry couldn't think of many funnies fro this review.

 

TOLLGATE TEASHOP

OFF THE A46

NEAR JUNCTION 18 (M4)

BATH

Telephone (01225) 891585 (Ring up and pretend you're Kate Winslet you might just carry it off) 

 

 

 

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