On quite possibly the rainiest day of the year, we ventured to The Blackbird in Ponteland to sample the delicious delights.
Thanks to extensive restorations carried out throuh the years, The Blackbird can proudly call the old Ponteland Castle home. Although destroyed in 1388, areas can still be found in the building such as the tower and gorgeous Tudor fireplace.
Billed as serving Country Fayre + City Drinks, we headed in to explore
Settling in for our early lunch table, we did find the dining room a little cold in atmosphere compared to the main bar area (where you can also dine) but as soon as the tables filled up, the room was a buzz with chatter and felt quite homely.
With both the a lunch time lighter menu and the full a la carte offering available, we had a tough time choose from the food let alone the drink. Real ales and a whopping 54 gins. I panicked and ended up with a coke whilst the husband had an in-house real ale.
With attentive service throughout, we were talked through the menu by the manager who offered up his favourites and the most popular dishes.
To start, Paul opted for the Stilton & Potato Terrine with beetroot, walnuts + red wine reduction (£6.95). Quite a light dish, the terrine was well packed and the strength of the cheese shone through without being overpowered by the accompaniments. The potatoes were in small chunks which added interest to the texture as it could have been sickly if it had been pureed smooth. The beetroots and walnut added a welcomed crunch to the dish.
I chose the Pan Fried Scallops, truffled cauliflower puree + parma ham (£9.95). On the pricier side for a starter, the size of these fat juicy scallops most definitely made up for it. Flash seared on the outside adding a smoky crisp, the soft, sweet flesh was fresh and delicious as you’d expect. The decadent truffled cauliflower and crisp parma ham all contributed to an incredible mix of flavours and textures all in one dish to accompany the butter soft scallops. I absolutely recommend this dish, I’ve been craving it since our visit!
Thoroughly impressed with our starters, Paul opted for the steak on recommendation from the staff. An 8oz fillet steak with potato + parsnip rosti, artichoke puree and roast shallot (£21). The steak was cooked a little on the more cautious side of medium-rare but the good quality slab of meat didn’t disappoint. The potato and parsnip rosti was a definite winner but he felt it could have done with more as it was that nice. The veg was well cooked and the jus was spot on, perfect for dunking a side order of fries in! While he wouldn’t ordinarily order a steak for lunch, the lack of the stodgy sides you quite often get with ‘pub grub’ steaks meant this was relatively quite light going.
I mixed things up and opted for a main course size portion of a starter, which is offered on the menu. The Tempura King Prawns, Pak Choi, Spicy Nuts + satay dressing (£16.95) came as a whopping pile of battered giant king prawns. The size of the portion was impressive but I feel like the amount of greens and dressing definitely stayed with their starter size. The oily satay dressing had a cracking flavour but I thought the whole dish just ended up a bit too stodgy. We split a side of fries and Paul had to help me finish off the last couple of prawns as it was just too much and sat heavily for the rest of the day. Each component worked well and was tasty but this is definitely a dish best served small. My mistake.
A rarity for us, we pushed the boat out and had a cheese board to share. This giant whopping portion was just for 1 person. We couldn’t get over how generous it was, definitely one to share, hell I’d even have that as a lunch dish just on my own! A good selection of cheese, crudite and homemade chutney – a perfect way to round off an impressive visit to The Blackbird.
Everything was beautifully presented without being needlessly fancy. We felt like the whole visit was exceptionally good value for money, given the ambience and most certainly the quality.
We can’t wait to go back!
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