"Gastropub" - for me an over used word which establishments will throw about because they serve frozen chips and apparently that is classed as food, let me tell you that is certainly not the case. I am worried generally by pubs that try to serve a certain restaurant standard of food whilst maintaining the basic culture of brits "popping for a pint" a majority of places that try this fail quickly. The Bluebell however, gets it right!
I have visited several times (6 i think) since the festive period because i was intrigued by the game oriented menu on Boxing day, we visited with friends (cautiously i will add after the somewhat "colourful" past of the bluebell) and was shocked, a menu of "proper cooking"
Wild boar, Rabbit, Venison, Pheasant, Duck not a generic pub "scampi" in sight (this will not be the case soon though) i had the duck pie filled with masses of flavour, chorizo & duck together??? A winning combination. Now obviously this was a well planned day a visit on a big occasion i find unfair so we decided to visit a few weeks later, to my amazement a wild boar terrine? A beautiful way to start dinner, the smoked bacon added a real depth of flavour and was quite simply remarkable. My wife was equally as pleased with her "soup" both of us considered swapping for the others dish but being the dominant male, i refused her requests!
Then came the main courses; my wife managed to break her habit of ordering chicken everywhere and she ordered the gnocchi, it looked and tasted fantastic, perhaps (in my opinion) could have done with some meat! Now for the journey i was to embark on The Lamb! I have read several reviews on The Bluebell and a consistent theme is Lamb. Three ways to produce a mass of meat which is as intrusive as delicate, beautifully cooked and presented pink rack of lamb, a should which in its cylindrical shape had been clearly very lovingly produced and then the shank; no clumsy mountain of over braised meat here, a little breaded croquette with a subtle minty flavour; TRES BIEN!!!!
The intrigue continued as i spotted on the menu "Basil Panacotta & Brown Bread Ice Cream"??? That cannot be right? I asked the friendly waitress was this the case and was reassured that yes it is brown bread ice cream, the waitress did then proceed to confess that she too was somewhat unsure when chef had announced the dish then she tried it and much the same as myself was amazed by the strange sounding but blissful flavour combination!
Then came the much awaited "new menu" for me simple: shallot tart tatin (a classic test of a chefs skill and understanding of something so simple yet difficult) paired with goats cheese ice cream??? SIMPLY WONDERFUL! To follow: The Pork, again similarly to the lamb, three types of pork all served beautifully, my wife this time ventured onto the duck, beautiful pink breast and a ragu with a beautiful orange coloured puree (i cannot remember exactly) an amazing meal, after which we shared an apple pie, honey & yoghurt sorbet was heavenly as was the ginger ice cream.
So after these visits we have since become a staple fixture on a sunday afternoon for our indulgence in roast beef, the potatoes are to die for!! The gravy (i think it is to be referred to as a jus) and always finish with the home made ice cream.
As im sure is clear from this review i cannot heap any more praise on the bluebell as it is just simply always a treat!
I thank the staff for always welcoming us and the landlady with her lovely dog (i would mention but i am not sure of her name)
Many thanks for always tending to our needs
Rupert & long suffering "wife"
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