MEAL REVIEW: The Plough, Bondgate Without, Alnwick

Chef's warm chocolate brownie
Chef's warm chocolate brownie

After a busy working week and running around on the heels of an almost one-year-old, we decided a Sunday lunch out was just the ticket.

And not wanting to go too far afield, The Plough was top of the list to try.

Chicken liver pate with red onion chutney and crusty bread

Chicken liver pate with red onion chutney and crusty bread

During the recent past, the pub, restaurant and hotel, formerly Blackmore’s, has changed hands a few times and I had heard both good and bad reports.

But I was pleasantly surprised during our visit.

Not much has changed inside the venue since it was refurbished in 2007, but it still looks good.

We were seated upstairs in the restaurant, which was my preferred area as I find the brasserie at the back downstairs quite dark during the day.

Children's chicken and chips

Children's chicken and chips

When we arrived, there was only one other table upstairs occupied, but during the time we were there it swiftly filled up.

There is a Sunday lunch menu at The Plough with a main course for £8.50, two courses for £11.50 and three for £14.50 or hot baguette and chips for £5.95.

There is also a children’s menu for £5, which includes a main meal and ice-cream.

Having spent the morning in the garden and, because I couldn’t decide between a starter or dessert, we opted for three courses.

Lemon and lime cheesecake

Lemon and lime cheesecake

I chose the chicken liver pâté with red onion chutney and crusty bread while my husband went for the goat’s cheese and roast vegetable tart with salad leaves.

There was also soup and a prawn cocktail on the menu.

As we had the little one in tow, we ordered her chicken nuggets, chips and peas, which was served with our starters – a nice touch which meant she wasn’t hankering after our food.

My pâté was delicious.

Roast pork with stuffing and apple

Roast pork with stuffing and apple

There was a huge slice of it which definitely tasted homemade and fresh. It was creamy and almost silky with lots of flavour.

The red onion chutney was also clearly homemade and not from a jar and complemented the pâté well. There were salad leaves to boot.

As the pâté portion was so big, I was even brought some extra bread, which was another nice touch.

The goat’s cheese tart was also a hit. A big slice of cheese sat on top of the vegetables in a thick pastry case.

It was nicely warm and melting and all the flavours mingled together well.

There was also an ample salad with it.

Goat's cheese and roasted vegetable tart

Goat's cheese and roasted vegetable tart

But we both also had our eye on the youngster’s dish.

I was expecting the usual frozen variety but these nuggets were proper chunks of chicken in a proper batter.

And they went down very well.

On to the mains and I plumped for the roast pork with apple and stuffing while the roast Northumbrian beef was dished up opposite me.

Both meats were served on top of a pile of creamy mash accompanied by two roast potatoes and a huge Yorkshire pudding.

We were also given a dish of vegetables – carrots, broccoli and cauliflower – to share.

My pork was lovely and the only qualm from me was that the stuffing was from a packet – but that didn’t deter from the meal.

There was plenty of gravy and the mash was creamy and perfectly seasoned.

The beef was also given the thumbs up.

There were three thick slices and, while he normally likes his beef still mooing, he was impressed by its tenderness.

Although we were both suitably full from the first two courses, we couldn’t resist the dessert menu.

Top of the list was chef’s own warm chocolate brownie, one of my favourites, so I had to partake.

My other half went for the lemon and lime cheesecake.

We were a little disheartened after waiting quite a while for the puddings, but they were worth it!

The brownie was absolutely perfect – warm, soft and gooey on the inside and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

And the cheesecake hit all the right notes as well, with a thick crunchy biscuit base and a rich creamy tangy topping. Both were accompanied by sweet vanilla ice-cream.

We even had the puddings taken off the bill after mentioning the delay.

All in all, a brilliant meal out. The service was superb, and even the owner came round to talk to customers.

They didn’t even bat an eyelid when they saw the mound of peas under the highchair.

A great Sunday lunch and highly recommended.

SELECTION FROM THE SUNDAY MENU

Main course £8.50, two courses £11.50, three courses £14.50

Starters

Homemade soup of the day

Goat’s cheese & roast vegetable tart

Classic prawn cocktail

Chicken liver pâté

Mains

Roast Northumbrian beef

Roast pork

Roast chicken

Scampi and chips

Stir fry vegetables with egg noodles and sweet chilli sauce

Penne pasta with ham, mushroom and parmesan.

sweets

Warm chocolate brownie

Apple and berry crumble

Lemon and lime cheesecake

Creme brûlée

Selection of ice-creams

GOOD FOOD IN A GOOD TOWN CENTRE SETTING

The Plough is a great place to eat out, be it formally or informally.

It serves a lunchtime and evening menu and has offers on during the week, such as £40 for a meal for two with a bottle of wine.

It provides good food that goes a bit beyond pub grub.

It’s also family-friendly and has a good selection of children’s meals.

The pub/restaurant’s closeness to the town centre makes it good choice for visitors and locals.

ratings (out of ten)

Quality of food................................8

Choice............................................8

Vegetarian choice.........................6

Value for money.............................9

Atmosphere..................................8

Service..........................................8

Children catered for......................9

Toilet for disabled.......................Yes

Access for disabled.......................6

You can access the downstairs easily but there is no lift for getting to the restaurant upstairs.

Overall rating...............................8

Verdict: Good food, good service and great puddings.

Contact: 01665 602395 or www.blackmoresofalnwick.co.uk