We’d never heard of the Black Bull before we received an invite to eat there, but after a quick check on Trip Advisor and looking at photos of their food online we knew we would be in for a treat so we agreed and booked a table for Sunday lunch – yay! Another roast for us to try!
Blidworth is a 30 minute drive out from the city centre so we’d hoped the journey would be worth it. The menu for Sunday lunch was limited, but nearly everything on it sounded intriguing and yummy. The first thing that we noticed was the amazing value for money – just £16.95 for a high quality, three course lunch. For starters I opted for the Quail Balti Pie while Emily ordered the Potted Salmon with Cucumber Ketchup.
I wouldn’t normally order a pie for a starter as they can often be stodgy and filling, but I didn’t have to worry about this one. This spherical pie contained balti quail meat wrapped around a runny quail’s egg with soft pastry sprinkled with nigella seeds and topped with coriander and watercress. The pie was served on a pool of mango chutney sauce. As you can probably tell from the description this pie was spectacular, and was the highlight of my meal – something a little different. There was a perfect combination of the spiced quail meat, the runny egg, soft pastry all complemented by the tangy, sweet mango sauce. I’ve never had a pie like this before (except maybe a pukka version at a football match!) but it was absolutely delicious. My only slight criticism would be that there may have been a tad too much mango chutney sauce – it felt to me that its strong flavour was in danger of overpowering the rest of the dish, but it did really lift the other flavours – maybe it was my personal taste. The presentation was drool-inducing! The chunky smoked salmon was wrapped around a creamy herb butter and served with a slice of charred bread and a wonderful cucumber ‘ketchup.’ It was a fantastically creative refinement of a salmon and cucumber sandwich and really light – perfect for a starter (or any afternoon tea!) Everything was chilled, well-balanced and tasty. After trying my quail balti pie, Emily did have food envy though (muaaahhaha).
We both ordered the roast blade of beef for our main course:
The Sunday roast came with Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, mixed veg and gravy. Rather than slices of roast beef, the blade was served like a steak, sliced in to chunks. Cooked perfectly medium rare and tender, the meat was a real treat and made a welcome change from a more traditional sliced joint. A couple of my slices were a bit fatty but most of it was excellent and Emily’s was perfect throughout. A delicate thyme flavour on the tasty chunks of pink meat was appreciated. The yorkshire pud was massive and we both agreed that it was the best we’d had in a long while – it was soft, yet crunchy on the edges and we declared the yorkie the man of the match. You could tell it was fresh out the oven. Unfortunately, the roast potatoes were less of a success. We like our roasties to be crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle, but these just tasted hard like they had been cooked a while ago and left to dry out. We appreciate this may be to some people’s tastes, but unfortunately they weren’t for us. The boiled veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, kale and carrots) were also a little uninspiring and, in the case of the cauliflower, undercooked. The gravy however was just right – thick and meaty (the extra jug on the side was appreciated by Emily the gravy monster).
Also, a special mention needs to be made of the horseradish sauce that accompanied the beef. It was thick and creamy with crunchy chunks of horseradish and just the right amount of heat for my taste. This made a change from a lot of the bought-in, sloppy paste that other restaurants serve.
For dessert, I chose the passion fruit cheesecake:
It came with a passion fruit sorbet which was sharp, sweet and delicious and went perfectly with the rest of the dish. The cheesecake itself had a shortbread base rather than a traditional crumb base, which threw me a little on the first bite. I love cheesecake and the more common digestive crumb base is a big part of why, so to swap it for shortbread was a personal disappointment. I’m sure the chef had their reasons why and a lot of people may prefer it this way, but I was left pining for a crunchier, less buttery base. The creamy cheesecake filling with its passionfruit jelly topping was a sensation, though. A perfect summer’s dessert, which was especially appreciated after a Sunday roast.Emily meanwhile had the egg custard tart with raspberry sorbet.
Although the pastry could have been flakier, the egg custard was declared delicious with just the right amount of nutmeg. It was creamy, custardy, sweet and indulgent! Egg custard can often have a bit of a wobble as it is set, but this filling wasn’t gelatinous and more like a thick creme brûlée texture – lovely. The sharp raspberry sorbet cut through the richness well but was on the edge of being slightly too sour.
So, overall we declare the meal a resounding success. The balti pie was a taste sensation, and the roast itself was almost perfect (we’re looking at you roast potatoes) with a couple of delicious desserts to follow. At that price point three courses is such good value that we’d recommend it to anyone. On top of the great food, the service was also brilliant. We’ll definitely be returning to eat from the evening menu soon, we could even stay overnight in the attached Black Bull inn!
Overall score: 8/10
Atmosphere and surroundings: 7/10
Stuart and Emily