REVIEW: The Black Bull Inn, Lowick
Loathe though I am to admit it, this was my first visit to the Black Bull Inn in Lowick since it reopened in February 2017.
A cursory glance at its website and a quick check on review sites was all that was needed to whet the appetite and pencil in a visit.
We pulled into the car park on a glorious sunny evening to find a sprinkling of customers enjoying a drink or a meal.
First impressions of the refurbishment are highly favourable. The last time I came here for a meal, I recall a dark, wood-panelled bar with a more modern functional restaurant area at the back.
That’s all changed now – and for the better. The place is light and airy with tasteful furnishings, yet it retains the character befitting a premises which dates back to 1817.
We were shown to our table in a smallish dining area – the restaurant is split into several sections – with a view towards a lovely nearby fountain.
Our drinks order was taken and did take a little while to arrive, maybe just as well because we’re pretty slow at making decisions, especially when confronted with a mouth-watering menu.
None of us were really starving though, so we opted to skip the starters to leave room for a dessert. There seemed to be a good choice on the menu, however, with a lot of local produce on offer.
On to the main course, there was plenty on offer to suit all our tastes, including two fussy children. Naturally, they settled on fish fingers (homemade at least) with chips and beans/peas. They were devoured in relative silence so they must have been good!
My wife and I both fancied the Northumbrian beef burger but of course we couldn’t both have the same and she won. I didn’t mind too much as I rightly suspected that I’d be given the crunchy onion rings, which were delicious.
The towering burger, served with pancetta and Northumbrian smoked cheddar on a brioche bun, topped with said onion rings and accompanied by skinny fries, was a great sight to see, although attempting to tackle it might have been a little daunting.
The burger was very good, although perhaps a little over done for my wife’s tastes. She assured me this was only a minor gripe though.
I went for the Cumbrian maize-fed chicken served with Stornoway black pudding, champ mash, wild mushroom and truffle duxelle, carrots, kale and a peppercorn sauce.
My choice was made largely on the presence of the Stornoway black pudding, which I always find hard to resist. As usual, it was excellent, as was the rest of the meal.
Sometimes a peppercorn sauce can be a little bit overpowering but that was not the case here, simply adding to the flavour of a lovely dish.
Those main courses were pretty filling so there was a bit of a dilemma on whether to opt for a dessert. We were all pleased we did!
My wife and I shared a sticky toffee pudding with salted caramel sauce and Giacopazzi’s banoffee ice cream. It was outstanding and topped off an excellent meal.
The banana split on the little ’uns menu’ was enormous and quite a challenge for someone whose eyes are sometimes bigger than their belly. Nevertheless, she made a fine effort and seemed quite delighted by her success.
Congratulations to owner Karl Crane (pictured) and his team who have resurrected the place in such style.
The pub had closed in 2014 after several years of brewery ownership and was declared an asset of community value in 2015 after much campaigning by the local people.
In the same year, LEKT Property, a family business which was created to support rural and community development in Northumberland, acquired the freehold. Through the efforts of family, friends, volunteers and local contractors, the pub was totally refurbished.
The Black Bull Inn is situated in Lowick, approximately three miles to the west of the A1 from the Fenwick junction. It lies around miles miles south of Berwick and seven miles north east of Wooler. It is believed that the building, in parts, dates back to the mid 1600s.
Selection from the menu
Soup of the day (G/F) £4.95
Duo of hot & cold smoked salmon (G/F) £8.95
Northumbrian black pudding bon bons £6.95
North Sea haddock & chips (G/F) £9.95/£12.95
35-day aged 10oz rib eye steak (G/F) £21.50
Cumbrian maize-fed chicken (G/F) £14.75
The Black Bull Northumbrian Beef burger (G/F) £11.95
Butternut squash, spinach & cauliflower korma (V) £11.25
Apple & rhubarb crumble £5.50
Sticky toffee pudding with salted caramel sauce (G/F) £5.50
Star ratings (Out of 10)
Quality of food 9
Vegetarian choice 7
Use of local food 9
Value for money 8
Toilet for disabled Yes
Verdict: A fabulous job has been done on refurbishing this historic venue into a fine country pub and restaurant.
Contact: 01289 388375 or http://blackbulllowick.co.uk/