Lifestyle: Lunch at the Black Horse, Market Bosworth

I grew up very close to Market Bosworth, childhood weekends spent wandering round the Battlefield were plentiful. Though I far preferred the country park on the other side of Market Bosworth. A proper wooden playground, a circular walk with plenty to see, fields to play football on. Bliss. Apart from when you have a dog that stampedes through people’s picnics stealing food…

I headed back to the lovely village of Market Bosworth last weekend, back to a pub that brings back some lovely (if slightly painful) memories. The Black Horse is one of the nicer pubs in an area which is if I’m honest lacking in decent food. The restaurant itself is lovely, all shabby chic and little rooms, a maximum of about 15 people in each area. Be warned though, there’s some very low beams and ceilings!

 photo 2015-03-15 14.26.15_zpsoqjga0lr.jpg photo 2015-03-15 14.26.25_zpsf1xtscog.jpgI had what has to be one of the best starters I’ve ever eaten. A Mushroom and Stilton bruschetta served with a Pesto, this was really substantial. Mushrooms cooked to absolute perfection, juicy and nutty, just a teeny bite from the stilton. The pesto wasn’t as flavourful as it looked, but everything complemented everything. Just delicious. And I didn’t have to share – W hates mushrooms, mum hates cheese. The others had a Chicken Liver Parfait which was raved over, apparently exceptionally smooth. Clean plates all round.

 photo 2015-03-15 14.27.17_zpssfbezqrd.jpgI was a teensy bit disappointed with the choice for the mains – last time I ate the menu was far more exciting and adventurous, here we were limited to the standard Sunday roasts. My lamb was okay – tender, tasty, I enjoyed it. I was just hoping for something a little more. Bowls of veg were some of the better ones I’ve had, everything perfectly cooked.

 photo 2015-03-15 15.26.40_zps29ti3mc0.jpg photo 2015-03-15 15.26.28_zpsjkn8sp5o.jpgPuddings came, and the menu picked up again. I’m not usually a pudding person, but I could have happily eaten four or five things here. After much deliberating I went for a Cappuccino Panna Cotta, with Bailey’s ice-cream, with the agreement that I could try some of mum’s (White Chocolate & Raspberry Cheesecake) and Will’s (Milk Chocolate & Peanut Butter Torte). I have to say I think I picked a winner – the panna cotta was absolutely delicious. I personally wouldn’t have paired it with ice-cream. Both were yummy, but I’d have liked some crunch! W’s tart was very rich, very chocolatey, and perhaps lacking in Peanut Butter.

 photo 2015-03-15 15.26.52_zpso4htvp7b.jpgA quick wander around the village, we retreated back so I could lie down and recover. The biggest meal I’d eaten since January, and it definitely showed! No more three courses for me…

Have you been out for a meal lately?

Lifestyle: Country Pubs and Roaring Fires

I love a good pub. And by that I mean a proper old-building, serves-real-ale-or-cider country pub. ‘Spoons is all very well and good on a night out, but it isn’t a pub.

 photo 2015-01-10 14.14.13_zpsoastcfc7.jpg photo 2015-01-10 14.05.29_zpsdeoa4s6j.jpgI like to cosy up, preferably by a real fire, and enjoy my drink of choice. I like to nibble on some proper pub-grub that’s not just reheated (frozen oven chips = acceptable). I like staff who genuinely enjoy their job. And I don’t like it to be crowded or noisy.

 photo 2015-01-10 15.06.53_zpsokfqtt5u.jpgA few weeks ago brought a ice-cold sunny Saturday on a boyfriend-visiting weekend. I instructed him to wear sensible shoes and we caught the train to lovely Reigate, walked by all the shops and out of town. Into the countryside, across the heath and there, hidden away, is the delightful Skimmington Castle. I went a few months ago (more here), and I’m so pleased it is actually in walking distance!

 photo 2015-01-10 14.05.02_zpsrkbeljij.jpgWe managed to squeeze onto the last available table (it’s a tiny place, and gets booked up), right in front of the fire they kindly stoked up for us. One look at the drinks and we both ordered warm cider. It’s actually ‘just’ Rekorderlig’s winter cider, fine by us as we both enjoy it! But it is served properly warm with slices of orange. Delicious.

 photo 2015-01-10 14.16.41_zpsgiqmzrqa.jpg photo 2015-01-10 14.14.48_zpskpypmqmu.jpg photo 2015-01-10 14.16.49_zpsihxnisuu.jpgOrdering from the Bar Menu (the restaurant menu looks amazing – fancy and fairly priced) I went for a Ham & Mustard baguette. I love this combination, even more so when the ham is like this. So, so good. W had the sausage baguette which was much enjoyed, and we shared a side of crispy, salty and very moreish oven chips. I discovered dipping in mustard then scooping up coleslaw is awesome. I have no shame in admitting this! Food was very well priced, especially for the area, with the bill including drinks coming in just under £20.

 photo 2015-01-10 15.16.42_zpsgrtvpsyh.jpg photo 2015-01-10 14.05.15_zpsjjyfwovt.jpgWhen we eventually stumbled back out into the cold we realised we’d spent a good two hours relaxing, chatting, and generally just enjoying each other’s company. Now that’s what a pub is all about!

Are you a fan of days like this? What have you got planned for this weekend? 

Restaurant Review: The Ness, Shaldon

A nice summery post for you today – fingers crossed the weather isn’t as gloomy today as it was at the weekend. I love watching rain, but I hate, hate, hate cloudy grey skies that don’t seem to do anything. Give me thunderstorms any day!

Anyway, remember a few weeks ago I posted about a lovely weekend away in Devon with my family? I promised a review of the pub lunch we had, and finally here it is. Worth the wait I promise – and if you decide to visit this lovely not-so-little but still quaint pub then the scary roads are worth it too! Just look at that view…

 photo 2014-07-19144402_zps1663e375.jpgWe wandered here after a sunny morning on the beach, thirsty and hungry. We were impressed with the welcome we all got, included the dog. We were offered a clean bowl from the kitchen (nothing annoys me more than places leaving out a single dirty dog bowl!) and pointed to a outdoor tap where we could fill it up as needed. Someone was impressed!

 photo 2014-07-20143824_zps39af775e.jpgAfter browsing the menu, I decided to be awkward and ask about various dishes as I wasn’t immediately sure which ones were tomato-free. A little disappointingly a lot of ingredients are bought in – though they are from a butcher (bonus) – and so they couldn’t guarantee they were safe for me. Said butcher labels with ‘herbs and spices’ which isn’t helpful! On a better note they were very accomodating and I was able to have a ‘starter’ of whitebait with some fries as my main. The drinks selection was also pretty impressive, especially given the precarious position of the cliff!

 photo 2014-07-19143632_zps7263bf26.jpgWaiting staff were a little confused, most people were sitting on the unnumbered tables outside which led to wrong meals trying to be delivered – but when ours came out (relatively quickly, but not suspiciously so) everything was all together. My sister ordered a massive Cornish pasty (half became dinner), mum had a gorgeous looking unfortunately-tomato-laced steak pie, and dad ate a fish-and-cheese baked dish. However…

 photo 2014-07-19150528_zpsb97ba80e.jpg photo 2014-07-19150537_zps4e12851b.jpgMine was absolutely stunning. Simple whitebait, so, so fresh. Not covered in a batter, just crunchy by itself. Salt and fishy without being overpowering, with the best tartar sauce I’ve ever had. Chips (skin-on fries) were also fresh tasting. One of the nicest pub lunches I’ve had. Pinterest worthy presentation too!

Have you been out for a meal recently?

Restaurant Review: The Red Lion, East Haddon

RedLion

A few weeks ago I visited this lovely country pub for my boyfriend (and his dad’s – December/January is an expensive time for me!) birthday. We ate over a Sunday lunchtime, although didn’t go for the ‘Sunday Lunch’ option as a full menu is always available as well as one roast joint.

For clarification – I was not invited to dine by the establishment, and have received no compensation for this review. All opinions are entirely my own and that of my dining companions. Images are from the restaurant’s website, as I didn’t want to use my camera at a birthday dinner. I did email asking for some photos, but the restaurant is understandably busy so I’ve just taken what I could find (after asking for permission of course!).

I was impressed immediately by the very warm welcome. We rang ahead to warn them of my tomato allergy, and on arrival I was given an annotated menu, with things I definitely couldn’t have crossed off, things that were definitely safe ticked, and items which could be altered also marked. This was definitely THE best allergy response I’ve had, so hats off to them! I was also seriously impressed by the use of local ingredients – they even just locally grown/made Northamptonshire oil for frying.

The restaurant/pub itself is very cosy. Smallish rooms (around 5-7 tables), with a lovely gas stove which I was lucky enough to sit directly in front of. I loved that the tables were big though – our table for four was large enough to spread out, which we were thankful for. I hate places where you are all crammed on a teeny table!

We were allowed plenty of time to make our choices, lingering over the bottle of red we ordered. No idea what it was (whilst I enjoy a glass, I’m not a wine expert at all) but it was rather good.

To start, others ordered the Battered Tempura Prawns, and the Scotch Egg. I went for a Duck Leg Hash.

Red Lion Egg

My hash was delicious. The idea of gravy and egg together isn’t one I’d have thought of, and to be honest even having eaten it the thought makes me want to vomit slightly. But it was delicious, and something I’d order again if I felt brave enough. If I was to be critical, it did lack duck – I’d have liked a little more for texture. Everything was perfectly cooked, with a wonderfully runny egg, and properly thick and meaty gravy. It was a massive portion though!

The verdict on the prawns was high praise – crispy and airy batter, a nice spicy and tangy sauce, and a good crunchy salad.

However the biggest case of food envy for the whole table was the scotch eggs. Perfectly crisp and perched on a punch mayonnaise dressing, they looked amazing. They looked even better when cut into, vivid yolk (the sign of good quality eggs) bursting out. I’d never had a proper Scotch Egg before, but I’ll look out for them from now on. I only had a bite, but I’m already craving another…

Onto mains, and the other three in the party all ordered the Slow Cooked Red Wine Beef, whilst I went for the Confit Pork Belly.

I didn’t try the Beef (it being one of the firmly crossed out items on the menu) but it was highly praised. According to others it was rich and melting tender, although one did comment it could have done with a kick or tang to the sauce. We were so impressed with this dish we are preparing to buy Ox Cheeks (the cut used) to make our own version.

My pork was, unfortunately, a rather mixed plate. The pork itself was delicious, and one of the best flavoured and textured bits of belly I’d eaten. The crackling wasn’t so good, and was in fact chewy to the point I was worried my mouth would stick together. Bacon-y vegetables were perfectly cooked and tasted delicious, once I picked out the burnt onions. Not sure if the burn was deliberate or not, but I’d prefer my veg without it. Having said all of that, I really did enjoy the dish – I think the quality of the rest of the meal may have made me slightly picky! And I was suffering food envy as I spotted the Roast Sirloin and Homemade Yorkshires over the other side of the room…

Despite already being full, we finished the meal properly with desert. I went for the Bailey’s Creme Brulee, and other choices were the Ginger Cake and the Doughnuts.

Red Lion Doughnuts

I didn’t hear much about the Ginger cake, but it was devoured and seemed to go down well.

My creme brulee had the perfect crunchy topping, and was creamy and light. The Baileys was only a light hint, for which I was thankful as it wasn’t as sickly as I had feared. The shortbread served alongside was excellent – really good, short and buttery. I could’ve taken a tin of this stuff home!

The star of the show was the Doughnuts. Served in a brown paper bag, searing hot and with a pot of runny jam, they were amazing. Very obviously freshly cooked (and in fresh oil too!), I can honestly say this was one of the best desserts I’ve ever sampled. Again I suffered from food envy.

I can’t comment on the price of the meal as a whole as I didn’t see the bill, however I felt menu prices were reasonable for the quality – you can view the full menu on their website.

All the way through service remained friendly, and I left unwillingly (though partly because it was cold and wet outside, and I’d fallen in love with the stove). I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch at The Red Lion, and wouldn’t complain if I got the chance to visit again. I’m currently working out how to get to one of their Sunday breakfasts (a full fry up, papers, tea/coffee and Radio 2 for £7 – my idea of a perfect weekend morning!), something I definitely want to experience, so I hope it won’t be too long before I return. Until then, I highly recommend this restaurant (and their Valentine’s menu also looks amazingly good, with plenty of dishes I’d love to sample!).  They also have wonderful looking hotel rooms, the kind I’d love to stay in for a romantic short break, and run a cookery school which comes highly recommend to me. So much to try! Let me know if you do visit this wonderful place – a hidden gem in Northamptonshire!

Have you visited a nice restaurant lately?

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