Anyway, the £9 Pie and Pint offer had given way to a £10 Sausage, Mash and Pint though the interesting choice of sausages helped offset the pie-related disappointment. I went for Venison and Cider whilst Jane chose Spicy Pigeon. These duly arrived with a good mounds of mustard mashed spud, lashings of gravy and a selection of veg. The ensuing silence spoke volumes. Plates cleaned, we agreed this had been a first class meal. Jane described her sausages as rich, meaty and with a distinctly spicy hot kick; the mash potato was beautifully smooth and well-mustardy and the vegetables just the right side of al dente. I could only concur except that my sausages replaced the hot kick with a hint of appley sweetness.
The pudding list had a traditional English look about it which was no problem at all. Jane plumped for Treacle Tart with ice cream which she pronounced truly delicious. I went for Bread and Butter Pudding. Given that my dad makes the best example of this dish in the world, I’m a harsh judge in this area and it didn’t really measure up I’m afraid. Texture is key to a great Bread and Butter Pudding with slivers of crispy bread an essential – none of that here and not enough fruit – it was more of a straight bread pudding, rather bland and stodgy. But, as I say ...
The standard menu at the Black Bull offers a range of starters then six permanent mains from Cheeseburger at £9 to 8oz Rib Eye Steak at £16; the latter are supplemented by four changing specials, offering more adventurous dishes. The chef was trained at the legendary Tickell Arms so obviously knows what he’s doing. Fish and chip supper can be had on Tuesday for £6 and there’s a pensioners’ lunch the same day.
The pub itself features an island bar surrounded by several distinct drinking areas and the restaurant where we sat. Although much opened out, plenty of beams, an old fireplace and remnants of dividing walls give a good old-fashioned atmosphere. There are also five letting rooms.
The confusion over the Pie/Sausage meal offer can be traced to the web. The pub’s old website – www.blackbull-balsham.co.uk - has been replaced by www.blackbull-balsham.com but, at the time of writing, the former still lives and comes first on a Google search – be warned if you’re planning a visit, which is certainly recommended.