Years ago, when I worked in Hull, I regularly frequented a small basement wine bar down a quiet side street: I can’t remember what it was called then, but it’s now the Hop and Vine. We were passing, mid-week at 12.30pm and called in for lunch.
It was smaller than I remember, with seating around the edge and just five tables.
Judging by the chalkboard of beers it’s obviously a real ale place. However, we ordered a couple of glasses of white wine which were brought from the kitchen, where presumably the bottle was chilling in the fridge.
We noticed each table had a small bowl of humbugs and on seeing us eyeing them up, a customer told us they were the landlords idea of Christmas decorations!
We ordered tuna mayonnaise and cheese pickle sandwiches in brown and white bread having been told there was no walnut bread. When the barmaid, who appeared to be the cook as well, came back from the kitchen, we were told there was walnut but no white. The sandwiches took a little while to arrive as, when the bell rang on the door indicating another customer entering, she had to come out and serve them. Fortunately, we’d ordered a packet of Guinness chilli crisps to nibble on.
When the thick sandwiches arrived, there was an apology over the salad garnish: ‘me lettuce froze’. The tomatoes had obviously been placed in the very cold fridge with the lettuce judging by their squidgy texture. The celery appeared to have escaped the frost bite unlike the bread which, although not frozen, was very cold.
However, the best thing about the place was ear-wigging conversations. There were two elderly male chaps having mugs of tea and completing a crossword together. Mr Humbug sat with a pint of a cloudy beer with a white tissue place over it when he wasn’t drinking. Another customer, with a pint of marmalade porter, began chatting about the state of the second Test Match, whilst another took longer to choose his pint than it did for him to drink it swiftly before he departed. Another elderly couple arrived: he was well spoken and it appeared they were on a first date as they didn’t seem to know each other very well. I’m sure at one point, he said ‘my godmother was the countess of blah blah’. My ears pricked up even more when they began talking about local rich businessmen and when asked ‘do you know blah blah’, the woman replied immediately with ‘yes, I can’t stand him. His wife has big blonde hair and pushes her trolley around Waitrose as though she owns the place’.
If you want to try a slice of life with your sandwich and beer, it’s the place to go.