Half an hour or so to spare before catching a train from Nottingham to London. Not enough time for a full-blown pub meal in the Galley restaurant of the strangely named Fellows, Morton & Clayton pub in Nottingham's Canal Street.
But all was not lost. Why do I always rely upon a main course dish when a decent bar snack will often suffice? Well, on this occasion it would have to do so I nipped in to the pub and was delighted to find a fantastic-looking roasted pork roll served with roasted potatoes and, luxury of luxuries, sage and onion stuffing which I hoped and prayed would be my favourite - Paxo!
Still not entirely happy with the bar snack option I walked into the Galley restaurant to check out the set lunch before storming back to the bar and ordering the pork roll. It was hand-carved in front of me and easily one of the best bar snacks I had experienced - although I have to admit that a steak sandwich in the White Hart Inn, Corfe, recently was just as good and worthy of a mention here.
But back to the pork roll and those superb roasted potatoes and the Paxo stuffing. And what about the pint of Post Haste? Everything was excellent and I didn't have to sit down at a table as the food allowed me to lean against an internal wall and wallow in the informality of the occasion. A worthy pub of the month, I was thinking.
And it was all down to Les Howard, the Whitbread lessee who, at the time of my visit, was on holiday. He and wife Jennifer have been at the Fellows for 11 years along with business partner David Willans and the plan has been to offer less frozen and more fresh food.
Jennifer has been in the kitchen for all 11 years and has developed a consistency of quality which was absent before her arrival. Puddings are home-made, chips are home-made and so is the haddock, which Les buys from his father-in-law's company T Lofthouse of Grimsby. Other fish is frozen because Les believes it offers better quality than fresh. "Some fresh fish is 10 days old when it's landed," he said.
The Fellows is still very much a 'drinks led' business with only 40 per cent of sales attibuted to food. The Galley restaurant is relatively new - it opened in March 2000 - but Les is optimistic that food sales will get better as his clientele of solicitors, shoppers and Evening Post journalists are boosting sales - 40 meals on a bad day but up to 90 on a good one.
In the early days the restaurant would only open at lunch times because Les and Jennifer had a young family but now they have grown up - and help out in the pub - the restaurant opens in the evening as well and it is working. "It's coming. We're not packed very night but we're doing good business," he said. "In 12 months' time it will be very good."
The roasted meat roll operation was something Les inherited from the previous occupants of the Fellows. The only thing Les changed was the cut of the meat - he now uses topside instead of flank when beef is on the menu. "People always say how nice the meat is; I've used the same butcher, Derek Cheeseman, for 11 years," he told Pub Food.
Les is all for longevity and the personal touch. Pat, the lady behind the bar when I visited has, according to Les, been at the Fellows for 16 years and that is what customers appreciate - continuity and that all-important personal touch.