The Bell at Coleby
Carla Watt visited the picturesque Cliff Village of Coleby to dine at The Bell.
A blazing fire in the hearth is always a welcoming sight during the winter months and The Bell at Coleby can boast a fireplace which warms the whole of the bar and beyond. My daughter and I were met by the highly efficient front of house manager. We sank into comfortable arm chairs close to the fire to look through the menu and enjoy a pre-dinner drink. The Bell is located within one of the period buildings which are typical of the centre of this pretty village. Down a tranquil lane with a car park to the side, the white painted building has a Tardis quality, deceptively spacious and well laid out once you enter inside.
We visited on a Wednesday evening and the pub restaurant was already busy. The Bell at Coleby has built a strong following for its Early Bird Menu which offers exceptional value, to experience the fine cooking for which chef-patron Paul Vidic has built a strong reputation. The Early Bird Menu is available from 5.30pm to 7pm Wednesday and Thursday and until 6.30pm on Friday. At a price of £18.50 for two courses and £21.95 for three courses, the menu is changed each month and it is not hard to understand its popularity.
We focused our attention on the à la carte menu which left us spoilt for choice. With more than nine dishes to choose from for each course, the decision took us some time to make. Paul is a champion of local produce but will be the first to admit with complex dishes, you could not possibly source every ingredient within the county.
We were shown to our table which was in the main restaurant area to the right of the bar. Here a team of young but courteous waiting staff looked after us with just the right level of attentiveness throughout the evening.
I began with lightly curried crab and saffron tart, served with soft poached hen egg and a chive beurre blanc while my daughter chose beer battered freshwater tiger prawns with Thai spiced sweet chilli sauce and a lime wedge. I can only describe my dish as luxurious and packed with warm flavours. A beautiful combination. My daughter loved the light but crispy coating of the succulent prawns. We had made an excellent start.
Our main courses were pan roasted pork loin medallion served with leek mash, black pudding and a Stilton cream sauce for me, while my daughter opted for breast of corn fed chicken with creamed wild mushrooms and smooth mash. A dish of seasonal vegetables was served on the side. These were hearty dishes yet demonstrate all the subtle combinations which are a hallmark of Paul’s cuisine.
I chose white chocolate and Bailey’s Irish Cream crème brûlée with a shortbread biscuit for dessert while my daughter had warm double chocolate brownie with salted caramel ice cream. Yes, they did taste as good as they sound.
Above the buzz of chat from surrounding tables, I was aware of music playing softly in the background which added to the warm atmosphere. Paul managed to spend time away from the kitchen during the evening and made a real fuss of my daughter. This is the sign of a confident chef patron – welcoming first time guests as warmly as his regular diners.
I usually mention other dishes but this list would be too long. Have a look at the online menus to see what tempts you. The Bell at Coleby is perfect for a special occasion and equally an early evening supper, when dining on Paul’s dishes will always be tempting.