The Bluebell Inn, Belchford
Carla Watt visited the delightful Wolds village of Belchford to sample the good food and hospitality of The Bluebell Inn.
There is nothing more welcoming for me at this time of year, at a country pub, than the all-embracing heat of an open fire. When my daughter and I walked from the cold outside into The Bluebell Inn there was not one but two, burning brightly in their hearths. I could see straight away why this is a popular destination for locals and the many walkers who, after following the route of the Viking Way as it meanders through the village, must spot this as a very hospitable oasis for refreshments and to relax in the warmth.
Head chef, Darren Jackson, and Dave Long who prepares starters and desserts, are a long established and competent team, supported at front of house by Emma Lancaster, who gave us a very friendly welcome.
We chose to go straight through to our table but other customers were enjoying a pint at the bar or sitting in comfortable chairs and sofas having a pre-dinner drink.
The menu choice is wide. It is detailed on a large blackboard above the fireplace as well as on printed menus. Depending on your appetite and occasion, there is a choice of steaks, pub classics, lite bites, chef’s specials or vegetarian options. It took us a few minutes to get our bearings, so wide and appealing was the choice.
The dining room and the location of our table provided generous spacing yet with plenty of character, especially as the pub was decked out ready for the festive season. I began with a black pudding Scotch egg served with celeriac remoulade and micro leaf garnish while my daughter chose seared pigeon breast with a Roquefort risotto and balsamic glaze.
I love black pudding and the slight runniness to the egg yolk made for a delicious and hearty starter. My daughter had not tasted pigeon before. The bird had not been overly hung but beautifully cooked and she thoroughly enjoyed her introduction to this flavoursome game. Other starter choices were parsnip and ginger soup; treacle and cumin home cured salmon gravlax with brown bread and a dill and whisky dressing or seared soy marinated mackerel fillet with beetroot salsa and horseradish crème fraîche. I think that gives some idea of why we took so long to make our choices.
Onwards to our main courses. I chose pan fried duck breast on a thyme and celeriac puree with a fig, lime and ginger jus from the Chef’s Specials while my fellow diner went for one of the Pub Classics, the homemade beef burger topped with bacon and Monterey Jack cheese in a brioche bun with chips and coleslaw. These were very generous portions, especially with the addition of a dish of seasonal vegetables served on the side. The dishes were well presented; mine was a deeply satisfying seasonal dish while the burger was eaten with relish. There really are too many main course choices to list here but the menus are brimming with freshly made dishes, using local produce – something to suit all tastes and appetites.
To end our meal my daughter went for chocolate crumble; a creamy chocolate truffle with a crunchy base and crumble topping served with ice cream. I had a wonderful cheese board served with plum bread, frozen grapes and chutney; almost a light lunch in itself! Emma, who had looked after us so attentively, served a glass of port for me, which made this an extra special treat.
Other homemade desserts included salted caramel, chocolate and banana Eton mess; gingerbread cheesecake or bread and butter pudding. All of these worthy candidates as well, to give a memorable end to a meal.
I had also enjoyed a glass of white wine with my meal while my daughter was the volunteer driver and stuck to soft drinks. There is a great choice of wines on the list, as well as local and guest beers at the bar.
We had felt thoroughly welcome and comfortable at The Bluebell Inn. This quintessential country pub offers all the best traditional qualities while serving modern, tempting and delicious food. The perfect hostelry if you are shaking off some cobwebs and seeking fresh air after the festivities.