Hop and Vine, Hadley

I had a little business to attend to in Hadley this morning, which gave me the excuse I needed to pop into the Hop and Vine in Hadley for lunch. It’s one of those places that has been on my ‘must visit’ list since we moved to Shropshire but for some reason, I haven’t got around to it until today.

It’s a gorgeous building, early 19th century and listed with hints of a malting and brewing history. Recent renovations have given it a very clean feel, particularly at the exterior it is bright and homely with a modern take on a heritage vibe. It used to be known as the King’s Head, probably very much in living memory to some of you. It’s family friendly, so you can all visit together to enjoy it.

We found the team to be extremely welcoming – the main guy who served us made me feel like we’d been going there for years. I think it would be pretty easy to become a bone fide local. The service was quick too. The pub was quiet on this arbitrary Wednesday lunchtime, but the food was freshly prepared and the wait was not onerous at all.

It wasn’t until David Jesudason’s excellent book Desi Pubs came out that I realised that so many people were unfamiliar with the desi pub concept. I didn’t know they were called that, but as a resident of Leicester for 15 years, the idea is quite familiar to me. Often, but not necessarily always, the food is the focus – not the beer. And, crucially, it has a decidedly enticing South Asian feel.

Not here for the beer

The Hop & Vine falls square into this category, in my humble opinion. They offer a good range of crowd pleasing keg beers, an assortment of wines, cocktails and the like, but no cask ale. Like so many places in Hadley. All of them in fact. There just isn’t the demand for cask to be able to sell it through quickly enough. They have Doom Bar on keg. Morbid curiosity demanded that I try it, but as I had guessed it was nigh on undrinkable. There is Worthington’s Creamflow on keg too, possibly for the traditionalists, or just for those who have given up on life.

I opted for a pint of Cobra instead, and it was pristine. It’s not the best lager in the world, but it was served at a great temperature in a clean glass and since I got to enjoy it with the sun on my face in the roomy beer garden, I’m not complaining. The first batch of Cobra may have been brewed at the Mysore Brewery, but production soon moved to the UK in the mid-90s. It is assuredly a British brand these days, but the softer carbonation and light sweetness help it to pair well with the menu.

Pint of Cobra

The Mixed Grill

The food is the star and I was hopeful it would shine. We ordered the mixed grill with masala chips. I think you can tell a lot about the calibre of any desi pub by the quality of its mixed grill. This one was a banger.

Fish pakoras, the flesh glistening and sweet when you cut through the crispy coat, were easily my favourite item. Everything was cooked to perfection and so moreish. The shish kebab had the greatest vim on the plate, with a slight chilli kick. But it must be said that the heat levels were extremely restrained. I understand you can order hotter if you want it and the chilli sauce on the side will go a long way to placating Scoville scale fans.

Hop and Vine medium mixed grill

Masala Chips, baby

The chicken wings and chicken tikka were both excellent too. Distinct flavours to each – which you would generally hope for but don’t often get. Both cooked to delicious perfection, without any dryness at all. It came served on a sizzling platter, protected by a bed of onions. The masala chips too were great. Doused in slightly sticky sauce but yet magically still retaining some crispness. They were flavourful and slightly sweet without being hot at all.

Masala chips

This humble order was enough to fill two hungry bellies to capacity and slightly beyond. That said, we enjoyed the food so much that we did not leave a morsel behind. Highly recommend you put this on your own list of places to visit in Telford. If, like me, you have no spice tolerance (mine disappeared during pregnancy much to my chagrin) then you’ll find the menu extremely approachable. But if you like it hot, you definitely have options.

Great food at a remarkably low price point and inoffensive drinks. You could do worse. Heck, I could even be enticed to go there just for the beer garden, on a sunny day. Even if I only get to drink industrial lager.


🐐 69 High Street, Hadley, Telford, TF1 5NL.

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We just had lunch and paid for our food, OK? Nobody is writing anything under duress, there are no brown envelopes. Let’s face it, I’m a writer. No one gives me money.

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