The Finest Guide to ‘British Tapas’

There's nothing better than getting a round in and adding a few packets of crisps to the order, taking them back to your table and opening them up for all to enjoy.

It’s become such regular occurrence that we’ve now started calling it British Tapas and it’s sweeping the nation. Therefore, I went down to the newly opened Bay Horse Tavern in the NQ, famed for their impressive selection of potato-based products, to find out what’s the best…

Twiglets
Always best enjoyed in bed while hungover with a pot of either hummus, tzatziki or that nacho sauce, Twiglets – much like the Marmite it’s flavours emulate – are very much a love/hate snack. For me they’re just a little too dry to be fully enjoyed in a boozer with some beers, and their sharp edges can sometimes cause serious eye or gum injuries. 2/5

Hoola Hoops
A constant favourite as a child, where the very construction of this crisp ensures that they’re perfect for placing on the ends of your fingers –  Hoola Hoops are a spectacular experience from start to finish. I’m especially enamoured with their BBQ Beef flavour, which certainly pack a punch and are excellent when teamed with a frosty dry cider. 4/5

Royster’s T-Bone Steak
My personal favourite crisp and one that is so hard to find that when you do see a packet in a shop it’s usually being scoffed by Lord Lucan while riding Shergar. Find them though and you’re in crisp heaven with these T-Bone Steak beauties, each one laden with big lovely bubbles – giving a unique experience in every bite. Excellent when paired with an IPA, I’d suggest the brilliant Shindigger. 5/5

Wotsits
I’m going to nip it in the bud now – I’m not a fan of Wotsits at all. They are too full of air, make your fingers orange and they get all clogged up in your teeth meaning you have to spend the next 25 minutes with your hand in your mouth. I should point out that I’ve never been disappointed with their level of cheesy-ness, it’s just the texture and consistency which is poor. If you have to eat them, have them with a Rum & full-fat Coke. 1/5

Brannigan’s Ham & Mustard
When I was a kid these crisps came in a thick brown paper bag which ensured that whenever I was taken to a pub – I wanted them. Technological advances in crisp containment and packaging has resulted in, sadly, them now being foiled packed, but they’re still an absolute classic. The English mustard twang on these thick, satisfying crisps works excellently with most drinks and on most palates. Grab a Runaway Smoked Porter and you’re pretty much halfway to a proper meal. 4/5

Bacon Fries
Considered by some to be the king of all pub snacks, the Bacon Fries can proudly sit next to peanuts and pork scratchings and hold its head up high. The distinct bacon flavour of these bad boys is so authentic that it took scientists 35 years to perfect, ensuring that they not only look the part, but they taste great too. My only reservation is with the size – I would say they operate on a ratio of 2:1 against a normal packet of crisps. 4/5

Scampi Fries
A crisp which unfortunately comes laden with an unfortunate smell, Scampi Fries are a spectacular wild-card option for anyone looking for a quality bit of British Tapas on a warm Summer day. Even though they smell like the wrong end of a mermaid’s arse they taste amazing – with just enough flavour and saltiness to elevate your pint of lager to a whole new level. 5/5

Discos Cheese & Onion
Ah yes. Discos. Those little pale discs of crunch-heaven. The structural integrity of a Disco ensures that they’re fantastic for dipping, or even using as little cream crackers, but unfortunately means they make a rather bland pub snack. Not only do you only get about 10 per packet but they also have the consistency of a cardboard box, soaking up any booze you throw at them with the absorbency of a 1970’s mattress. Keep to the lunch box. 1/5

McCoy’s Cheese & Onion & Flame Grilled Steak
I seem to remember McCoy’s once marketing themselves as the daddy of all crisps?! Perhaps I’ve got it mixed up with another product but there’s no denying that these huge bags of crinkled potato manage to rule the roost when paired up with most other savoury snacks. Not only do you get plenty of bang for your buck, they are perfect for sharing, seem to last for an age and the flavour cuts through any drink like a hot knife through butter. These bad boys can be eaten with anything – but a nice lovely cold pint of Big Wave works like a charm. 5/5

Seabrook
You can always tell the quality of an establishment by their potential for stocking Seabrook crisps, and if they manage to have some of the rarer flavours, you know that you’re in a true quality establishment. Unfortunately, The Bay Horse only have 3 flavours, but one of them is the spectacular Prawn Cocktail – which destroys anything Walkers can create any day of the week. If you ever see any Canadian Ham, Sour Cream & Chives or Beefy – get as many bags as possible. 3/5

Walkers Max Paprika
A frequent favourite as part of the Boots Meal Deal, Walkers Max exude an air of superiority over other crisps, both by their sheer size and I’m starting to believe – arrogance. Sure, this crisp is a much better choice than a normal packet of Walkers – but that’s only because you think you’re getting better value for money. For me, I think they are lacking in many respects, and definitely, don’t deserve to be called MAX. The Paprika flavour is okay, not bad, a bit meh – basically, nothing special. Very mediocre crisp. 2.5/5

Nik Naks Nice & Spicy
Nik Naks were a massive favourite in the playground, with at least one full box being sold at the ice cream van in Counthill School’s car park every lunch time. One thing I should say though – upon trying these again recently – they are not as good as they once were. Perhaps Golden Wonder have taken away some of the salt content, or changed the recipe to make them healthier – but I must say, they are the worse for it. No longer are they hard, crunchy, knobbly sticks of pleasure, but more akin to a slightly harder misshapen Wotsit. Poor show. 2/5

Monster Munch Flame Grilled & Pickled Onion
A favourite of Karl Pilkington on his many trips around the world, it’s clear to see the appeal of this absolute classic. Not only is the packet big enough to satisfy even a fully-grown man, but the texture and the flavours are all highly unique and equally delicious. The king of all Monster Munch is surely the Flame Grilled flavour. Each bite is packed with a spicy punch, making them the perfect pub snack alongside perhaps a fruity cider or even Shindigger’s fantastic Mango Unchained. 5/5

Space Raiders Pickled Onion
A 10p magnificence in the 90’s, Space Raiders have re-positioned themselves in the crisp market to appeal to the impulse-buy crowd in places like Home Bargains and Pound Stretcher, which is a shame really because it’s always been a quality snack. The packaging nowadays is terrible, a poor state of affairs considering their excellent David Bowie-esque comic book phase of ‘96-99, but the crisp inside is still how you remember it. The tangy, sharp Pickled Onion flavour, would you believe, work perfectly with a Gin & Tonic. 4/5

Skips
Less of a crisp and more of a slightly melted cloud, Skips require a considerable quantity to make an impact both on your taste buds and on your appetite so they’re usually down near the bottom of any choice of snack. Instead, they seem to have positioned themselves as a ‘diet’ crisp, something you can snack on while laughing at the measly 90 calories you’ve just inhaled. If they still did their Cheese flavour they would get a higher mark, but they don’t. 1/5

Mini Cheddars
Less of a crisp and more of an accompaniment to some stilton and port, the Mini Cheddar is nonetheless an excellent pub snack and one which can manage to satisfy around 3 fully grown men for the full duration of their round. The secret is in the dough, with a consistently crispy biscuit making way to a cheesy, creamy paste that swills around your mouth with every mouthful of booze. You should take a note out of Grandad’s book and pair these with some hard liquor. A smoky whiskey or even a spiced rum works perfectly. 5/5

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