Review: The Bell Inn, Ladbroke
This village pub was recently taken over by new owners and launched a steak house menu using dry-aged beef. Here's what Muddy thought when we stopped by.
This cosy pub was given a new lease of life earlier this year when it was taken over by the Freespirit Pub Company – the brains (and bubbles) behind The Castle at Edgehill and The Sun Inn Hook Norton, among others. Under its previous owners it had more of a restaurant vibe, but there’s no doubt this is now a popular village pub. They also hold regular events like the music nights, wine tasting and themed nights where a speciality menu like Mexican or Italian runs alongside the regular offerings.
There’s a tried and tested mix of luxe country chic – tartan checks, original wooden floors, low lighting and fluffy cushions on the chairs. There’s several open fireplaces just waiting for the weather to turn (shouldn’t be too long then) and plenty of nooks and crannies to settle into for a good gossip.
When I visited it was a warm evening and there were families making the most of the weather in the beer garden outside and a little sun trap in the courtyard out the back. There was a steady flow of customers from large groups to couples and staff didn’t bunch all everyone in one end of the restaurant like so many others do – a definite plus from me to have more space.
SCOFF & QUAFF
There’s really something for everyone on the menu and the starters all sounded great. After asking our waitress for her recommendation, I went for the seared Moroccan scallops with hummus, tomato and coriander salsa and curry oil (£13.95). They were perfectly cooked and deliciously plump. I would have never thought to put hummus with seafood but it worked so well, top marks chef!
My friend can’t say no to pork belly on a menu so went with it served with red onion, tomato salad and sweet chilli sauce. It was well presented and cooked, with a great crispy skin – just how it should be.
We were at a steakhouse so obvs there was just one choice for mains. We chose the Cote de Boeuf (£59.95)- a large cut coming in at 600g and for two sharing (or someone with a huge appetite). It was a proper hearty pub meal with triple cooked chips, roasted mushrooms and tomatoes. The steak, which is locally sourced, was tender and melted in the mouth, with lines of fat running through and grill lines on the outside which added to the flavour – one of those where you keep thinking ‘last bit’ and then diving in for another piece. It was served with expertly made peppercorn and béarnaise sauces, perfect for dunking in.
After we’d pretty much demolished dinner you’d be forgiven for thinking we’d not have room for dessert. You’d be right, but we’re nothing but thorough, and after spotting our kryptonite of peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake (£7.75) on the menu we had to get one to share. It definitely was a step too far, but rich, creamy and crumbly – everything you need from a cheesecake. The glazed banana and salted caramel popcorn it came with was an absolute triumph too.
OUT & ABOUT
There’s some great walks nearby with scenic Chesterton Windmill, one of Warwickshire’s most scenic landmarks (so don’t forget to charge your phone for lots of pics!) There’s also gorgeous Compton Verney just a few miles away with its Capability Brown landscape, there’s always awesome exhibitions on. Ufton Fields Nature Reserve – a 100-acre site managed in partnership with Warwickshire Wildlife Trust – is just three miles away and great for the kids to bomb about, it’s home to 15 different types of dragonfly and 28 species of butterflies.
If you’ve got a petrolhead with you then head to the British Motor Museum in Gaydon. A bit further afield is Warwick or Kenilworth Castles and heading in the opposite direction there’s the RSC and Stratford Butterfly Farm.