This week I went on a voyage of discovery to the The Canal House. I can remember the James Brindley pub opening up in the 1980s and it was very popular for quite a while, but recently the building has been closed and looking a little sorry for itself. So when I heard the news that the people behind The Botantist had taken it over, it was good to know that new life was going to be breathed into the place. I was delighted to be invited along to try out their food and drink selection with a few friends.
We set off appropriately enough on a narrow boat and approached The Canal House from the water. Along the way we were treated to a beer tasting and heard about the lengths The Canal House is going to, to get the best beer for us. The Canal House will have more than 60 unique world ales, including Budvar’s unique unpasteurised full-flavour tank beer Tankové Pivo, that’s matured for 90 days. The beer remains fresh because it’s speedily delivered in temperature controlled tanks that are airtight to provide the freshest beer possible. This was the first time I’d been on a beer tasting event (let’s hope it’s the first of many). I am a natural bitter drinker and I tend to steer clear of paler beers especially lager. So I was unsure if I would like the selection we tried as there were two pale ales. The first was Beavertown Gamma Ray which is an American style Pale Ale, but it’s brewed in London. It uses whole leaf American hops and lots of them to create its unique flavour. To be honest this one wasn’t for me, although I did feel it had more depth than the average Pale Ale. The rest of my party thought this beer was the best we tasted, but they all prefer paler beers to me.
Next up was High Wire Grapefruit from Magic Rock Brewing was next. This was a bit of a revelation to me: a Pale Ale that I would actually order out of choice in a bar. The pink grapefruit provided the necessary sourness needed to make this a well-rounded beer for me. This was my favourite of the bunch. Next up was the Einstök Icelandic Toasted Porter. I do generally find Porters a bit heavy-handed for my taste buds, but I’d choose a Porter over a Pale Ale generally. This Porter had dark, smoky, complex flavours and it had almost a toffee taste. I found it a little sweet, but I liked the depth of flavour.
Before very long at all we were pulling up to our destination. The Canal House is certainly looking good now it’s had a refurbishment. It’s now a lovely part of the canal scene and a great place to sit outside and enjoy a summer’s afternoon.
On arrival we started out on the food. The Baked Camembert Starter seemed an obvious choice and it was truly delicious. It came served with honey, fresh rosemary, skewered granary croutons which were toasted but still quite soft and perfect for spreading the soft cheese on nice and thickly. It also came with Braeburn apple wedges which is a great combination with the camembert.
Another favourite from the starter menu for our table was the Rotisserie Pork and Black Pudding Fritters served with apple and fig ketchup, plus homemade piccalilli.
For main courses we all had the Hanging Kebabs because they looked so amazing. I picked the Chicken Hanging Kebab with garlic butter and properly seasoned chips. When the kebab was brought to the table, it came topped with a small dish of garlic butter. We asked the waitress to pour this over the kebab for us and it infused the kebab and the chips with a wonderful garlicky flavour.
We tried a few of the cocktails too. This was my personal favourite of the ones we tried. It’s a mojito with dark rum rather than white rum. As you’d expect the mojito is very refreshing, but the addition of dark rum adds depth and flavour.
The Canal House opens to the public on August 14th 2017. I think I’ll be going back.