Another birthday lunch….aren’t I a spoilt girl?! As my Dad’s birthday is the day after mine, my Mom, Dad, Neil and I went out for a celebratory lunch two weeks ago. A love of food is most definitely in the family so, after seeing ‘The Plough at Bolnhurst’ in the Good Food Guide, my Mom decided it would be the perfect place for a family lunch.
It was a beautiful sunny day so the hour drive from Northampton was no issue as we got to see lovely British countryside at its best, meandering through beautiful villages before arriving in Bolnhurst. The independent gastropub is not the easiest to find and it is very easy to drive past it but luckily, a quick telephone call saw us turn around in the opposite direction in which we were aimlessly driving and spot the pub behind a beautiful weeping willow.
The building itself dates from the 15th century and has been lovingly restored and refurbished by the current owners. Inside, it is full of character with log fires and wooden beams aplenty. However, the pub is stylish with modern twists such as an open kitchen and some beautiful wall papers and furniture.
As it was such a beautiful day, we decided that we couldn’t resist sitting outside in the front garden which is situated next to a lovely stream.
The pub uses fresh, local produce therefore, the menu changes on a daily basis. Despite this, the choice is fantastic with a main menu and specials menu on offer which is very reasonably priced with three courses for £19. Neil, my Mom and I opted for two courses from the tempting specials menu whilst my Dad opted out of a starter and chose a main course from the al la carte. As it was a celebration, we all decided we deserved a dessert also!
For the first course, my Mom and I both chose a warm chicken liver salad with shallots, walnuts, pancetta with a walnut dressing. The crunchy walnuts contrasted the soft chicken livers perfectly and gave the dish a wonderful earthy taste. It was the perfect sized starter as it was rather rich, both Mom and I enjoyed our starters immensely.
Neil opted for a salad of butternut squash, baby spinach and toasted pumpkin seeds with a honey and thyme dressing. Although Neil said he would not normally have chosen a starter like this, he really enjoyed it and thought the pumpkin seeds added a lovely texture and flavour.
For my main course, I couldn’t resist the slow cooked lamb shoulder with salted potatoes, confit onions and roasted courgettes. The lamb was irresistibly soft and tender and was a real winner of a dish. The potatoes were still crisp and the subtle flavour of the courgettes really did allow the lamb to shine. A wonderful dish that I could eat time and time again.
My Dad, being a big seafood lover, was very impressed with the variety of fresh fish on offer. For his main course, he chose a grilled lemon sole with a caper and parsley butter accompanied by Maris Peer potatoes and bobby beans. As it was simply done, there was nothing to detract from the beautiful, delicate flavour of the fish which was cooked to perfection.
Neil and my Mom were lucky enough to have the last two portions of chargrilled Aberdeenshire beef with hand cut chunky chips, Portobello mushrooms and a bernaise sauce. Although Neil was a little disappointed that there weren’t more chips, he did say that they were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside – the perfect chip! Neil has said that the beef was full of flavour and practically melted in your mouth like butter. Another winning dish from the Plough!
I am a big fan of sticky toffee pudding and both my Dad and I thought that The Plough’s version was really very good. The only thing I would say was that the toffee sauce could have been a little thicker but perhaps that is a personal preference. The sponge was very moist and not too stodgy.
My Mom chose the vanilla pannacotta with raspberries. She said that the pannacotta was nice and creamy and not too heavy for the end of a delicious meal.
Neil, being a bit of a chocaholic, decided that the chocolate fondant with chocolate sauce and clotted cream was the way forward. Unfortunately, the fondant was a little overcooked and didn’t have the oozy chocolate centre that it is renowned for however, Neil said he still enjoyed the sponge and that it filled his chocolate fix for the day!
We washed our meal down with something dry and white which was presented to us in an extremely effective wine jacket to keep it cool in the early September sun; it certainly did the trick. The wine selection at the Plough is excellent – they even clearly state on the menu that if you wish to have a special bottle from your own collection with your meal, that is not a problem.
We all agreed that our meal at The Plough at Bolnhurst was superb and that it was well worth the drive from Northamptonshire. The thing that struck me most about this place was the attention to detail, not only concerning the food but also in the service and general atmosphere. The owners of The Plough have gone to great lengths to ensure that their guest’s every need is catered for which is evident through small touches such as a collection of reading glasses and handbag hooks at the bar to cosy throws for guests to use out on the riverside patio should the weather turn chilly.
It is clear why this gastropub is in the 2012/2013 Good Food Guide and the four of us would thoroughly recommend a visit. Thank you to the staff and owners of The Plough for making a birthday lunch just that little bit more special.