Personally, I think that the greatest discovery we have made while blogging is The Black Bull. Prior to being invited there to sample their Sunday Lunch a few months ago, we hadn’t heard of it and with it being so far out of the city centre we were unlikely to stumble across it. We found the food to be of amazing quality at a very reasonable price so we thought it’s only fair that we return and actually pay for a meal.
Upon entering, this time around we were struck at how empty it was for a Saturday lunchtime. It’s a shame that word hasn’t spread about this place. It was reassuring to see that the one busy table was helmed by Johnny Pusztai – local celebrity butcher who supplies the kitchen and heartily recommended the food to us before we were seated. What a legend.
Since our last visit, the lunch menu has switched over to the winter selection with lots of hearty and comforting dishes on offer. For starters, Emily ordered the carrot and coriander soup with a carrot bhaji, while I spied the potted salmon with cucumber ketchup – a runaway from the summer othat somehow made it onto the winter menu. Emily ordered this on our previous visit who raved about it so this was a no-brainer for me (shame my previous choice of quail balti pie didn’t make the cut, though!)
After 30 mins wait, the waitress informed us that the kitchen had run out of the soup so they were preparing a fresh batch, hence the wait. Although we were starving and a bit peeved that they had waited so long to say something, we thought this was a good sign for the food – many other restaurants would simply force you to pick another option but Emily was getting a freshly made dish instead. When the fresh soup finally arrived it was poured around a large carrot bhaji.
Unfortunately, the soup was more like a super thick purée, so the ceremonious pour was rather an anticlimax as it blobbed sluggishly from the jug. The flavours were really good and we loved the idea of a carrot bhaji, but the consistency was just too thick (reminded us of baby food), it was over salted and the bhaji – although tasty -had been in the fryer to long and so had gone a little tough. Maybe in the panic to create a quick, fresh batch it didn’t come out quite perfectly this time.
The potted salmon was twisted around cream cheese and chive butter, and topped with a crumb that complemented it perfectly. The cucumber ketchup was the real standout here – the cool refreshing taste was the perfect accompaniment to to the salmon and herb butter that on it’s own can be quite claggy, but the ketchup cut straight through that and resulted in a very tasty, enjoyable dish. Classic flavour combinations given a modern update – lovely.
For the main course, Emily ordered the chicken & leek pie with mash, while I opted for the braised blade of beef with mustard mash. These arrived shortly after the starters, both looking very seductive and the exact definition of a winter menu main course.
The cylinder of slow cooked beef separated beautifully when pulled with a fork. The mustard mash was the ideal accompaniment to this, along with veg and gravy. The only issue I had was that the beef got slightly dry towards the end so maybe a bit more gravy wouldn’t have gone a miss (and I’m sure I’d have been provided with some if I had been bothered to ask). The flavour of it however was exactly as I’d hoped for – earthy and rich. Others may complain that the veg was slightly undercooked, but for me it was exactly how I like my veg – a bit crunchy.
Emily’s pie was an equal match with awesome flavour, succulent chicken and the best mash ever – topped with a crispy chicken skin crumb, this is the only way we ever want to eat mash from now on! The pastry lid was crisp and buttery with a good rise and the sauce was creamy and comforting. Although, like the soup starter, it was way on the salty side but a really, really great pie with perfect cooking. We can definitely recommend this one.
So all in all, another great meal at the Black Bull. The value on offer is honestly amazing – 2 courses for £12.95 and the food is consistently good. It still stands up to me as being our best discovery and we hope to return soon to eat from the evening menu.
Overall score: 9/10
Atmosphere and surroundings: 7/10
Emily & Stuart