As the current Whitby Gazette rural pub of the year, we know the Black Bull at Ugthorpe keeps a good cellar.
So it was only fair to see if the food was up to scratch too. The owners are no novices – they have been at the country pub for a decade now, so hopes were high.
There is a pretty extensive menu to choose from, but our choices were made from the specials list written out on the blackboard.
The pork, chilli and lime curry with poppadom and mango chutney (£9.90) took my fancy, while my wife Emma decided to go for the beef stroganoff (£9.90).
Both dishes were plentiful, accompanied by half rice and half chips, and all I can say is do turn up to the Black Bull feeling hungry because there is little danger of leaving with an empty stomach.
It is fair to say that for just under a tenner apiece, both dishes represented excellent value for money.
Clearing the plate proved to be a challenge but there was no way it was going to defeat me, while making sure, of course, that there was enough room left for dessert. Emma commented that the dish was good value and offered plenty for our money.
We took along our seven-year-old son and told him we’d welcome his educated opinion too.
After all, this is a child who would choose Wagamama over McDonald’s, I think we have brought him up well.
I think it says more about the gargantuan portions that the little monster didn’t finish his burger and salad, rather than not liking it.
It can’t have been his appetite, as he was still very keen to practise his reading skills on the dessert menu.
The banana split – a perfect mix of two of his favourites, ice cream and banana – was a beast. At first glance, it looked enough to feed a rugby team, let along a slim, primary school-aged boy.
From my point of view, it was also a good choice knowing that I’d be left to tackle the leftovers if my own pud was not to my taste.
Not that I need have worried.
While preferring starter and main to main and dessert when eating out, the fudge cake sounded tempting enough and did not disappoint, while Emma’s sticky toffee was much to her satisfaction (both £4.95).
Overall, we left with tummies on the brink of bursting, but feeling like we’d been fed well and for £50 for three lots of two courses, also that we’d been given very good value for money.
What I like about the Black Bull is that there is no pretence, no nouvelle cuisine style ornateness, just good old-fashioned hearty pub grub at affordable prices and, in these days of austerity, there is much to be said for that.
The only remaining critique is reserved for the beer and the question remains – is the Black Bull deserving of its current title as the area’s best rural pub?
As the wife was designated driver for the evening, that freed me up to sample the Black Sheep. To be fair, I’ve never had a bad pint of the stuff anywhere so it was a pretty safe choice.
The pub boasts a very cosy atmosphere, especially if placed in front of the fire, but you can also enjoy the suntrap round the back – though perhaps not in January.
Menu information: STARTERS also include “Black Bull Special” – sliced mushrooms and bacon in a garlic creamy sauce with molten cheese on top; pork belly bites; Chipotle prawns. MAINS also include Half roast duck with honey and ginger sauce, chips or potatoes, peas and salad garnish
Home-made beef and sweet potato tagine, with rice or chips