The Black Bull at Etal has had a chequered recent history itself, reopening its doors in June 2018 after a two-year closure and a major refurbishment.
Since September it has been under the management of Cheviot Brewery, in collaboration with Ford and Etal Estates, so a family birthday was a good opportunity to give it a try.
A trip to the picture-perfect village of Etal is always a pleasure, even on a grey November day when the tourists have long gone.
Stepping inside the doors of the Black Bull – Northumberland’s only thatched-roof pub - we quickly discovered where the locals like to spend their Sunday lunchtime.
We were shown to our table in the restaurant area (pre-booking is recommended) and cast an envious glance towards the tasty treats being enjoyed by others.
Drinks were ordered, including a refreshing pint of Cheviot Brewery's best bitter, Upland Ale, brewed at Slainsfield just up the road. A selection of the brewery’s other offerings are also available.
We skipped starters, despite the temptation of options including warm black pudding and pancetta salad topped with crispy poached hen’s egg or the prawn and smoked salmon cocktail with classic Marie Rose sauce.
Roast dinner was what we came for and we were not disappointed as we tucked into our choices – a delicious sirloin of beef served pink (£15.95), tender silverside of beef (£13.95) and a beautifully cooked leg of lamb (£14.95). The children too were pleased with pork and crackling and sausage and mash.
It was also pleasing to be presented with a perfectly cooked selection of vegetables, something of an oversight in many restaurants.
Although we all went for the carnivore options, there are a good selection of vegetarian dishes on the menu including nut roast, pan haggerty and butternut squash risotto.
We were all quite full but could not pass on the puddings. Sticky toffee pudding, chocolate brownie and fruit crumble were all quickly devoured.
A gentle stroll down to the banks of the beautiful River Till ended a thoroughly enjoyable trip to Etal.