Food & Drink

The manager of a historic pub in Lincoln has told The Lincolnite how the team are enjoying life under new ownership and looking forward to a refurbishment in the new year.

Valerie Hope and her husband Michael first opened the Wig & Mitre on Lincoln’s Steep Hill on December 14, 1977, where the Bishop of Lincoln at the time, Simon Phipps, pulled the first pint. The pub later moved a few doors on to 30-32 Steep Hill where it has been ever since.

Michael sadly died of cancer in 2012 before Valerie decided to retire earlier this year. Licensed and leisure property specialists Everard Cole marketed the two-storey Grade II Listed building for freehold offers in the region of £1.5 million.

The pub was taken over by RedCat Pub Company on October 20 this year and manager Emily North is one of two staff to have stayed on. Most of the staff team is new as others decided to leave over the last year, with new kitchen and front of house staff coming in.

Emily, who has worked at the pub for eight years, told The Lincolnite there have been some customers worried about whether ‘The Wig’ will now lose a bit of its quirk after the refurbishment in January 2022, but she has assured that its essence will remain.

She said: “It shouldn’t change too much. There is still a sense of community and they (the new owners) are letting us decide about food and drink, and to have a say on the refurb. I think some people are worried about it (the refurb) as ‘The Wig’ has a bit of a quirk, but they shouldn’t worry as the essence of the pub will remain the same.

“It has been really busy getting ready for Christmas and with the Christmas Market panic setting us, but they (RedCat) have been really good with anything we have needed.

“It was stressful at first but we are finding our feet now and RedCat have been really supportive.”

Inside the Wig & Mitre on Lincoln’s Steep Hill. | Photo: Everard Cole

She added that they were given a lot of notice when the pub went up for sale and that previous owner Valerie Hope kept her and the staff up-to-date throughout the process.

The Wig & Mitre has previously been described as a “local institution” and occupies buildings dating back to the 14th century.

It was reported by the Morning Advertiser earlier this month that RedCat Pub Company had acquired the Turks Head in Hasketon in Suffolk, taking the estate to 77 sites ( a combination of managed and tenanted) . They reported that former Greene King boss Rooney Anand had raised £200 million to invest in Britain’s pub sector, who is the executive chairman of RedCat Pub Company.

The first acquisition of 42 former Stonegate sites for an undisclosed sum was made in March this year, comprising of 30 freehold and 12 leasehold sites, according to The Caterer.

RedCat own two other pubs in Lincolnshire, both in Bourne – The Jubilee Garage, and Smiths of Bourne.

One-star hygiene ratings have been handed to two restaurants in uphill Lincoln, with management of food safety flagged up by inspectors.

Cafe Zoot on the Bailgate and Thai Corner Restaurant on St Paul’s Lane were both given one star ratings in their most recent hygiene inspections.

Thai Corner received scores of ‘generally satisfactory’ in reference to its hygienic food handling and the cleanliness and condition of its facilities, but requires ‘major improvement’ on its management of food safety.

Cafe Zoot also fell short of food safety management standards, and were found to have satisfactory food handling measures and cleanliness levels, when it was inspected on September 14, 2021.

It is the first time either restaurant has been given a one star hygiene rating, with Thai Corner having previously scored four in August 2018 and January 2017, the latter of which when it was trading as Thai Castle Restaurant.

As for Cafe Zoot, that was last inspected in January 2020, scoring three stars, the same as it scored in June 2018, dropping from five stars in March 2016.

The Lincolnite contacted both establishments, but neither sent a reply at the time of publication.

A Lincolnshire couple are hoping to launch a local takeaway service next year after impressing customers with their loaded fries in Lincoln at two pop-up events.

Perry Greenwood, 32, and Lucy Clark, 34, launched Oh La La Fries this autumn, which specialises in gourmet loaded fries and halloumi fries.

They held their first pop-up at the Waddingworth PYO Pumpkins at Redhouse Farm on November 5. The couple then showcased their talent for food again at the Lincolnshire Food & Gift Fair at the Showground on November 27-28.

The business specialises in gourmet loaded fries and halloumi fries. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Crispy Hoisin Duck loaded fries are Lucy’s favourite. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

The couple, who are are getting married in 2022, work from a converted horse box which they predominately use for festivals, food shows and pop-up events. They will have a pop-up stall at the illuminated wall walk at Lincoln Castle on December 13 and 14.

Oh La La Fries is predominately Lincolnshire based as they spend a lot of time in Lincoln and are moving to Louth soon, but the business will be nationwide and they are available for weddings and private parties.

They also serve loaded halloumi fries. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Truffle & Parmesan Fries. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

There are nine loaded fries options, including two festive options, in a customisable menu that is continually changing and being added to. The current options are as follows:

  • Crispy Hoisin Duck fries (Lucy’s favourite)
  • BBQ Pulled Pork Fries (Perry’s favourite)
  • Truffle & Parmesan Fries
  • Salt & Pepper Calamari Fries
  • Buffalo Chicken Fries
  • Mac & Cheese Fries
  • Halloumi Fries
  • Festive Halloumi Fries
  • Festive Raclette Cheese Fries

The dishes can also be made vegetarian and vegan friendly, with plant-based alternatives. The ingredients are sourced from local suppliers from Lincolnshire, and their packaging is 100% recyclable and biodegradable.

Oh La La Fries will be launching a local takeaway service in spring 2022, where people will be able to pre-order and collect their food in different areas including Lincoln and Louth. Once launched, various locations will be announced on social media each week regarding where the takeaway service will be.

Yummy! | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Oh La La Fries is operated from a converted horse box. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Former teacher Lucy, and commercial manager Perry said food is their life. They originally dreamt up the concept after a night out “having the obligatory cheesy chips drenched in mayo”, and wondering why this dish should only be reserved for late night munchies.

They told The Lincolnite: “We both just love food. When we first got together we travelled a lot and were always planning where we will eat next.

“We love to eat street food and loaded fries, and at independent restaurants as they have more on offer and there is more passion put into each dish.

“One of the great things about street food is flexibility as we are to static in one area. We wanted to use our passion for food to set something up.

“It’s not just about eating. We are passionate about giving people the full experience and customers can see the food being prepared in front of them, and see the attention to detail.”

The menu at Oh La La Fries. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

The couple also wanted to thank the support of all their customers, as well as Lincoln-based Number 75 Design who did their branding.

Oh La La Fries can be booked by emailing [email protected] or contacting the business via social media.

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