The sign outside now proudly proclaims that the Black Boy Inn on Whiteladies Road is now open for business, as of Friday, July 8th. It’s taken new owners Ivona and Sam a few months to transform the place into the smart, stylish gastropub that it has now become, but with the venue packed with both diners and drinkers on the first day, and fully booked for its inaugural Sunday lunch, they’re off to a flying start…
I discovered during a chat with Ivona a few weeks ago that they planned on making food and wine the focal points of the Black Boy Inn, and this was very much evident on Saturday’s visit. The wine list is extensive, and the supplier had visited the pub earlier on in the week to provide training and tastings for Black Boy staff.
I was shown to my table in the dining area, which is light, cosy, and more reminiscent of eating in someone’s dining room at home rather than in a restaurant. Those booking a lunchtime table will be given the choice of two menus: the set lunch menu with three options per course (£10.95 for 2 courses, £13.95 for 3), or the a la carte menu where starters range from £5 to £6.50, and mains from £10 to £17. I was also shown the board of fish specials, with two options for each course: on Saturday it was mussels or whitebait to start, and main course options of beer battered plaice goujons with tartare sauce, fries and salad, or baked cod with samphire, crushed new potatoes and a prawn cream. With the latter recommended to me, I chose this as my main and also went for a starter…
With a goats’ cheese-based starter on the menu, this was an obvious choice for me. Grilled on leaven bread, the cheese was served with locally picked watercress, toasted pine nuts and a lovely, sweet beetroot relish: a classic combination but a winning one.
I don’t normally eat a huge amount of white fish, and it’s now relatively rare to see cod on a restaurant’s menu. The fish was beautifully cooked and flaked easily under my fork, and the delicate flavour of the cod was complemented rather than overpowered by the salty tang of the samphire. I loved the prawn cream too, and the potatoes proved handy in mopping up the sauce, of which there was possibly a little too much.
After two courses on a hot Saturday afternoon, I didn’t have space for dessert, but was almost swayed by the English strawberry, mascarpone and Amaretto trifle…next time!
Instead I retreated to the bar area with a latte (£2.25) to enjoy similarly elegant-yet-relaxed surroundings to the dining area – the couple in the armchairs by the Bath Stone fireplace certainly looked at home!
It’s a far cry from the Black Boy Inn of old…in a very positive way. The menu is well-thought out with a decent amount of variety, the fish specials are a great idea, and the set price lunch menu offers a great alternative to the a la carte menu for those on a tighter budget. I’m keen to hear how the Sunday lunch went on the opening weekend, and I’ll definitely be back to sample it in the near future…
The Black Boy Inn
Telephone: 0117 973 5233
Address: 171 Whiteladies Road, Bristol BS8 2RY