The Hilltop Hotel, Conisbrough - District Pub of the Season
John and Julie Bulcroft liked their local so much they decided to buy it. Having done that, they transformed it into a CAMRA award winning pub.
Situated on Sheffield Road, the Hilltop Hotel is on the very edge of our branch area. Originally, there was a pub with an adjoining brewery directly opposite the present site. Original landlord Francis Ogley decided to transfer the pub across the road 'to a more prominent place' in the hope of attracting more customers. In 1930 the Hilltop Hotel was bought by Mappin’s Masbrough Old Brewery for the sum of £10,000. After that, it was owned by various breweries and pub companies until 2005 when John and Julie took over.
Anyone visiting the Hilltop for the first time since their arrival will be pleasantly surprised at the difference. Much time and effort has gone into refurbishing this once run down roadside pub. Also known as ‘Bully’s Steak House’, it consists of a public bar and a lounge/dining room offering good quality food made from locally-sourced products - all at reasonable prices. John and Julie recently had a pleasant surprise when a ‘mystery diner’ from a local newspaper gave them an enthusiastic review. Now they’ve had recognition for their ales too.
When John and Julie took over, the Hilltop didn’t sell any cask beers - now five are available at all times! Black Sheep Bitter is always on offer but the rest of the beer range is ever changing and a great advert for CAMRA’s LocAle policy. Wentworth, Acorn and Imperial are just some of the local breweries whose products have been featured at the Hilltop. John favours ales from micro breweries and is always looking for new ones. He’s had to introduce real ale gradually but now there’s a steady and growing demand for them. “I’ve noticed the lighter beers are becoming more popular with our customers” he remarked, “And, as we’re a free house, I can put on whatever beers I want”.
John and Julie are still developing the Hilltop Hotel. There’s now a beer garden behind the pub and John hopes to one day reopen the Hilltop Brewery. Here’s hoping! In the meantime, this pub is certainly worth a visit, especially if you haven’t been there for some time.
The Hilltop Hotel is open 16:00-23:00 Tuesday to Friday and 12:00-midnight on Saturday and Sunday. Apart from the food, the pub offers a Wednesday quiz, karaoke on Thursdays and occasional live music.
The Hare & Tortoise, Rossington Bridge - Town Centre Pub of the Season
Part of the Vintage Inns Collection (which also includes the Boat Inn at Sprotbrough), the Hare & Tortoise is situated at Parrots Corner, where the B6463 to Rossington leaves the A638 Great North Road to Bawtry and beyond – right opposite the Doncaster South Park and Ride site – the official address is 329 Bawtry Road.
Although unquestionably the focus is on food, the Hare and Tortoise always offers three cask conditioned ales and is Cask Marque accredited. The real ale range consists of Black Sheep Best Bitter plus two changing guest beers. Adnams Broadside, Everards Tiger, Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted and Leeds Best are but a few tempters; a little while back Batemans Victory Ale (5.7%) made a rare appearance! The bar managers show enthusiasm for and knowledge of real ale.
Opening hours are from 12pm to 11pm (10.30pm Sunday) with food being served until after 9pm. There are various themes and menus including Wednesday Steak Night and Fish Friday. You can book tables and peruse the menus on their very comprehensive website at www.vintageinn.co.uk/thehareandtortoisedoncaster.
Rossington Bridge was the site of the first Roman fort in the area (about 40AD) and the London to Edinburgh stage coach used to change horses at the ‘Corporation Arms’ which was on the current site of the Hare and Tortoise. Parrots Corner is apparently named after one Jim Parrot who lived in a cottage opposite and worked for the Burnett family who owned a wagon works in Doncaster.