Eating out, pints down the pub and evening entertainment come at a price – and can often be the first things people cut down on as they tighten their belts in these austere times.
But now you can do all three for a snip. You may even leave with more money than you started with, provided you’re half decent with general knowledge questions.
Pub quizzes have been around for donkey’s years now – anything to get punters through the door on traditionally quiet nights.
But now there’s an added attraction – food, glorious food.
And it’s free.
In my teenage years, I used to take part in the quiz at my local. During the interval, I’d join my friends in chomping on the curly sandwiches of rubbery cheese and sulphuric egg, handed round on foil platters.
Thankfully, things have moved on, so I stopped by a couple of my local pubs to take part in the quiz – and enjoy some fantastic free food.
Monday night is quiz night at the Devonshire, on Bridge Street, Belper.
Formerly the Duke of Devonshire, it was famed for its topless barmaids back in the early 1990s. Those seedy days are thankfully long gone.
Now it’s a swanky gastro-pub, tastefully decorated and with a cracking menu. I enjoyed dinner there on Christmas Day last year. It was perfect.
That aside, the quiz is good fun and I take part most weeks. It is hosted by joint licensee Steve Meath and this visit was to be a particularly busy one.
Fifty-nine players took part and it was standing room only because the students were back for the summer. And if anyone loves a free feed, it’s students.
So on to the food. It was a delicious chicken curry – quite mild, a little like a korma but with less coconut and plenty of fresh tomato quarters and peas.
It was served up with crusty bread and chips, the latter ordered in from the chippy across the road.
I wanted more details for you, dear reader.
“What kind of curry is this?” I asked Steve.
“I know, but what sauce?”
“I don’t know. He just chucks anything in.”
Good throwing, Jon Creed – the other licensee, and chef. My friend and I came second in the quiz, too.
Forty-eight hours later and a trip to the Spanker Inn, in Nether Heage – a traditional country village pub with a welcome as big as the huge oak beams that hold up the ceiling.
Again, my friends and I visit most weeks and it’s become something of a tradition to rib the elderly quizmaster, Alan Ward, by asking him the same questions every time.
“How much is it?” is one of them when he brings round the quiz sheet.
“A pound – and that’s worth a pound on its own,” is always the reply as he points to the food.
Supper was a carbonara affair, made from pasta twists, huge chunks of bacon and mushrooms, all combined with a creamy sauce and topped with cheddar, fresh parsley and a good few twists of black pepper.
Served with chips, this was a lovely hearty meal and plenty of people went back for seconds.
Just don’t mention the quiz itself. My friend insisting that Americans use the metric system ensured we missed out on the prize money by one point. Not that I’m bitter. Indy 500km indeed!
In conclusion, both pubs get top marks for their food and entertainment. Oh, and the drink – don’t forget the drink.
The well-kept beers include Marston’s EPA and Wadworth 6X at the Devonshire and Marston’s Pedigree, Greene King Abbot, Black Sheep Best Bitter and a guest at the Spanker.