Eat My Words: We review The Black Bull in Donington
In Donington Market Place, staring over to The Black Bull, stands the statue of famed explorer Matthew Flinders.
The village’s favourite son somehow found the time to set sail on voyages of discovery, coin the name Australia, carry out the first inshore circumnavigation of that giant landmass, pen a three-volume book and spend six years in a Mauritius jail before his death at just 40.
He lived fast and full but I’d happily bet that, despite all his meals across the globe, he never had ribs like these.
Yes. The ribs.
At more than 450 years old, the Black Bull would have been into its third century before Flinders reached the legal age to enjoy a pint, and some of the building’s original features still stand today.
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Beyond the cosy, vibrant bar area, the restaurant itself marries the old and new as light, modern colours cover imposing brick walls and beams to give a relaxing, warm feel.
From the menu – which offered a variety of British pub favourites, a decent steak selection and favourable vegetarian choices - I went for the baby back BBQ ribs and my wife the baked lemon and herb chicken breast which, following a menu change, is sadly no-longer available.
The chicken, served with garlic Hassel back potatoes, baby carrots and broccoli, didn’t look a large plate upon arrival but was – I’m told – extremely filling, cooked to perfection and the veg had just the right amount of bite.
And as for the ribs...
Well, ribs are ribs aren’t they? You know what you’re getting.
Not at the Black Bull.
To put it simply, the meat slipped off the bone with ease and the BBQ sauce was comfortably the best I’ve ever had.
There was no playing it safe here. The sauce was tangy, thick and with just enough fire at the back of your throat to let you know you were on to something very good.
Maybe not to everyone’s taste, but those who get it will want it again and again. Yes please.
If that wasn’t enough of a win, the side salad was one of those rare rabbit platters I eat because I want to, rather than out of courtesy, the handcooked chips came in nice, fat shapes and the coleslaw was the perfect consistency.
Desert was a pleasant-enough chocolate brownie with fantastic Madagascan vanilla bean ice cream while the lemon cheesecake, I’ll tell you from my one stolen spoonful, was delightfully rich.
My sympathies to the poor bloke stood outside for the next 450 years, taunted by the smells from The Black Bull but never able to get inside and sample those ribs.
Out of five:
Food: The ribs were great, the sides a nice complement and the sauce fantastic. The brownie was nice enough and the ice cream delicious ****
Drink: A pint of Moretti that was fine, as Moretti always is and a non-alcoholic Heineken which tasted close enough ***
Decor: A modern twist to an historic building which added warmth to the place ***
Staff: Our waitress was a polite, helpful young lady who always served with a smile ***
Price: At £20 for the ribs and £17 for the chicken this was pricier than many similar types of establishment, but you get what you pay for and this food was superior. The meal came to £50.90 for two two-course meals, which I was more than happy to pay ***
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