The Blue Bell Inn is a traditional looking gastro pub type restaurant situated in the small English village of Rothley in the East Midlands. I went their recently with Siggy for a friend’s son’s birthday lunch on a cold Sunday afternoon. The place is a little like the TARDIS appearing smaller on the outside mostly thanks to a converted skittle alley. It was cold when we sat down for around the first hour and then as more people filled the space and we got some food and drink down us (mostly down our throats I’m happy to say) it warmed up a little.
They have a traditional pizza oven but pizza isn’t on the menu on a Sunday. Monday is pizza day when you can get two pizzas for £15. They also have a steak night on Thursday night 6.30 – 9.30pm, but they weren’t being overly open about what offer if any was on for that night. Maybe drinks were free or something, although I doubt it. When we went, a Sunday, we had to choose two or three courses from an extensive and expensive set menu.
The inside space was nice and traditional with bunched ropes on bare wood roof beams and lots of old books strewn about willy nilly on shelves. As mentioned already it was cold and the radiators weren’t on.
After arriving fashionably late for his own meal the party boy was refused alcohol because he had no ID on him. Not a good start, but easily sorted by dad ordering at the table.
The friendly staff were very particular about the cutlery for the starters – obviously people needed steak knives and soup spoons but there seemed to be unnecessary extra knives and forks – and we weren’t offered any water for the table as far as I was aware.
For saying that they have a set menu the starters took a long time to arrive; maybe because we were a party of eleven people or maybe because time runs slower inside the TARDIS?
Siggy and others were disappointed by the soup which tasted rather odd and not at all of potato or leek. Had they put cornflower in the soup to thicken it, and left it tasting bland?
The sadly unphotographed smoked buttermilk chicken was very tasty but was deemed too large a helping for a starter. I took a shine to someone else’s whitebait which was nicely flavoured and reminded me of Greek holidays. (Still) trying to be healthy I opted for a scabby bit of mackerel and a joke of an apple and beetroot salad which I could’ve knocked up myself for a couple of quid.
The mini charcuterie starter looked like this (yes it’s going to descend into a load of captioned photos I’m afraid – I was very concious of having been invited to a family gathering and didn’t want to appear to be antisocial) and was evidently very tasty if you like cold Italian meats, pate and cheese:
After starters there was another long wait for mains while lots of well to do families wandered in and the staff extricated another drinks order out of us. And oh… I’ve only just realised that I didn’t put enough money in at the end to cover my second pint of lager (oopsie – sorry folks I’ll owe it you). I got my first pint at the bar before we sat down so that one was covered… hmm… moving swiftly on…
To the mains:
Yes, I should’ve asked everyone how it all tasted, but like I said it wasn’t really the time or place. Perhaps some of those who were there can leave comments. perhaps they think I’m being a little harsh? I didn’t think the Blue Bell Inn offered value for money and I was mostly underwhelmed tbh.
What didn’t disappoint and was the best food of the day was brought in by the family and that was the handmade birthday cake. This was made by birthday boy’s (okay Jack’s – we can see it’s Jack from the photo) mother’s friend Cat Bennett (I hope I got that right) who is a bit of a whizz when it comes to baking and decorating cakes. I thought the cake was awesome and not just because I hadn’t eaten any chocolate, biscuits, crisps or cake for about 8 whole bloomin’ days.
The sponge was lightly vanilla flavoured and while there was a lot of icing to get through I didn’t find it all sickly. Washed down with the remains of my lager it was a good ending to an otherwise mediocre meal out (the company aside of course! – it was good catching up with folks I don’t see very often and it’s awfully nice to be invited to these things – although now I’ve let slip about the beer maybe I won’t be welcome anymore..).