The Blue Bell Inn, Belchford
This charming, whitewashed inn, situated on the Viking Way in the heart of the Wolds, is as popular with walkers as it is with locals.
I’ve called in for a drink many times at the Blue Bell Inn and was pleased to have the opportunity to sample some of the food that always seems so tempting from the descriptions on the large blackboard that sits above the fireplace.
We visited for Sunday lunch and I would advise you to book, especially if you are travelling from further afield, to be sure of a table. People do come a considerable distance as we found when we chatted to a party of four from Newark.
We settled into one of the sofas in the bar to enjoy our drinks and make our choices. After a while we were shown to our table, which was by one of the front windows. It felt even cosier to be inside as we watched the rain lashing down the other side of the glass.
We decided to share a starter of melting goat’s cheese served on Myers Lincolnshire plum bread with red onion marmalade. This is a twist on one of my favourite light lunches and this sweet, tasty plum bread was a great accompaniment to the cheese.
My husband chose the Sunday roast beef while I decided to have whole, locally smoked trout, cooked with lemon and thyme served with a Caesar salad and new potatoes.
The beef was thinly sliced and just pink, served with a large Yorkshire pudding, a dish of vegetables and gravy – all classically done and to a very high standard. My trout was softly smoked and beautifully moist. I was really pleased when I tasted the salad. This was a genuine Caesar salad, made to order, with crisp lettuce, shaves of parmesan and home-made croutons; another one of my favourite light lunches but a great side dish with the trout.
The menu is divided into Starters, Lite Bites, Main Courses, Steaks and Side Orders. The menu on the day we visited had references to lots of locally sourced ingredients. With eight starters and eleven main courses plus the Sunday roast there wasn’t a shortage of choice. Perhaps the options are more limited for vegetarians, as quiche from the Lite Bites menu was the only vegetarian main course, but for us carnivores there was wild boar and apple sausage with mash, pork belly, Gressingham duck, lamb chops and a home-made Blue Bell steak burger to name just a few; plenty of fish and steak options too.
One of the very friendly and smiling staff came to ask if we had room for a dessert. I couldn’t resist the Summer Pudding with clotted cream while my husband went for sticky toffee pudding served with ice cream. These were delicious home-made puds. My Summer Pudding had just the right edge of tanginess to the fruit and properly soaked bread while the sticky toffee pudding had juicy strands of date running through the dark moist sponge. We finished with a coffee each and an after dinner mint chocolate.
There are some Asian influences in the menu – Bang Bang chicken and curried or Thai fishcakes – but predominantly this is a British menu with some original twists and executed very well. I must go back to try Hugh’s Mack Bap which is lightly battered mackerel fillets served in a bap with tartare sauce and a few chips. It sounds like the type of tasty reward I can face after a good walk with the dogs on a winter’s day.
The Blue Bell Inn is a classic Lincolnshire country pub that has mastered the art of survival in the twenty-first century by not only offering a decent pint but also serving cracking food.