The Blue Bell Inn is an AA recommended pub, features in the good pub guide, appears in the Michelin 'eating out in pubs' guide as well as being praised by the locals. Must be good right? Right.
Situated in the Lincolnshire Wolds and dating back to the 18th Century, The Blue Bell Inn is a relatively small pub that serves the locals and hikers (it falls along the Viking Way a hot spot for history walkers). They aren't muddy boots friendly however and politely request they are left in the lobby.
The pub itself serves a standard range of spirits, wines and lagers as well as two to three guest ales on tap. The relaxed nature of the pub is that you can chose to sit in the pub and enjoy a pint by the fire, you can eat in the pub or in the dining room. Both times I have visited we have eaten in the less formal pub area rather than the dining room.
The menu is constantly changing depending on season and availability of local produce, so what you see on the website may be slightly different to what they are serving on any one particular night. The menu is displayed on a blackboard in the main bar area and if required a printed menu can be handed to you and they will update you with any changes.
The food served is traditional pub fare with modern dishes too. Expect to see some rustic dishes such as pheasant, partridge and pie alongside burgers, Chinese pork belly and macaroni cheese. It's quite a mix but it ensures that all tastes are catered for, their website also notes that they are allergen friendly just let the waiters know when you order.
On my previous visit I decided to order some nibbles to share with D (olives, focaccia and houmous) and struggled to eat my substantially large main... learning from past mistakes I avoided a starter on this occasion.
I opted for the steak and ale pie which comes loose with a puff pastry top.
Sides are served separately in dishes for the whole table, bringing a homely sense to the meal, dipping in, sharing and arguing over the last chip or broccoli.
The pie, as you can see above, is served with chips and vegetables, they are some of the best chunky chips I've had. Crispy round the edges and fluffy in the middle.
The meat in the pie is well cooked and falls apart beneath your fork. The veg is cooked well too. My only criticism is that I could have done with some more gravy, a thought that was echoed across the table.
D and J both had the blade of beef which is slowly braised in ale and on this day was served with horseradish mash and veg (same veg that I had).
The above picture really doesn't do it justice. The gravy was thick and rich so much so that it darkened the picture, the meat was cooked to perfection and was on par to that which I have tasted in more formal (and expensive) establishments. D and J really made a great choice with this dish.
Other meals chosen on the night included the Chinese pork belly that was served with tender stem broccoli and sesame potatoes; the beef burger served with chips and coleslaw.
The staff on this occasion (Sunday just after Christmas) were young but this didn't hinder the service, there was one hiccup with a missing drink but profuse apologies were offered. We also had an issue with the open fire pouring out smoke at the start of our meal, the staff were very helpful and quick to try and rectify.... and didn't blink an eyelid when one of our dining party made it worse by adding another log to the fire...
I wouldn't hesitate to return and would definitely recommend to anyone visiting the area whether for a quick pint or for a bite to eat.
Main meals cost between £9 - £16.50, the cheapest being things like bangers (Lincolnshire sausage) and mash, ham chips and egg and the more expensive being the blade of beef and the partridge.
With a pub this good I'm not surprised that the town is called Belchford.
The Blue Bell Inn
1 Main Road