I was recently invited to try The Bell Inn at Ladbroke, which is located near Southam, Warwickshire. A warm and friendly country pub amongst a number of great walking routes.
The Bell Inn reopened earlier this year after a substantial renovation and the heart of what they do is food with fantastic ingredients. A steakhouse that serves country pub fayre, they focus on locally sourced ingredients from small independent farms. The ingredients are highlighted in unpretentious and delicious dishes. We treated ourselves to the full three courses and I sampled a mango cocktail while my other half went for a mocktail (sucks to be the designated driver!).
To start, I went for the crab on toast. A decent starter portion (I was hungry) with loads of fresh crab. I loved how the crab wasn’t overdressed as gastro pubs can tend to do; it was fresh and super tasty. My partner opted for the onion bhaji scotch egg which he absolutely loved. I had a quick bite and the egg was jammy and delicious and the bhaji was fantastically seasoned. This is a starter I would absolutely order next time, however much I loved my crab.
I then went for the fish of the day, Cajun salmon with new potatoes and salad. In my head, this was the healthy choice although of course there was plenty of butter. This for me was a highlight, although the salmon could have been cooked slightly less. Meanwhile, my guest went for the curry which he didn’t even give me the opportunity to taste. I understand it was pretty hot but he must have loved it as it disappeared in a flash.
To finish, we shared two puddings. A popcorn cheesecake with brûléed bananas (YUM) and a lemon molten pudding with a gorgeous strawberry ice cream. I was surprised that the latter was my favourite, as I am a popcorn fiend, but I loved the freshness and the ingenuity of a molten lemon pudding as an alternative to chocolate.
The service was fabulous, and I cannot fault the knowledge of the staff; a real feat after only recently re-opening. Would I go again? Absolutely! The pub really is the heart of the village of Ladbroke and runs an impressive events calendar including live music nights and summer fetes. Their steak night gives guests 20% off an extensive range of steaks and is clearly really popular with the locals.
Given the location, I’d love to go back during the day to enable a nice country stroll. This walk, which takes in deserted villages and a saltway, looks like a perfect walk to earn another three courses. Their menu has changed since we visited (changing just a few days later) but I’m certain the quality of the produce will be similar to what we experienced. Looking at the price points this is definitely a middle price point with most of the starters sitting below a tenner.
The Bell Inn does get busy and is clearly a popular local haunt so if you’re going for food, make sure you book! In summary, a lovely place for a high-quality, ingredient centred, pub meal that’s a bit different.
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Chatting Food Contributor: Alice Hargreaves
For Alice, the thrill isn’t just in the eating but also in the creating, cooking, baking, pickling, and preparing of food. Having lived in Sydney, Australia and London, UK for a number of years, Alice is now based in the West Midlands.
Follow Alice @alice_ate_here