Last week I was invited along to the reopening of The Black Horse in Great Linford, a local pub in Milton Keynes which sits alongside the Grand Union Canal. Despite the pub only being ten minutes drive away from me, I've only ever visited it for drinks but I remember being pretty impressed with their selection of gins!
I was one of the lucky bloggers to be invited along to the opening night to sample their brand new menu and see the new refurb before they opened properly on October 13th. Often when I review restaurants, everything goes as normal but it is quite nice to visit when the venue is just set up for you and select other guests! It means you can get to know the staff and the menu in a little more detail.
The interior has had a bit of an overhaul. Carpets lay where wooden floors once did, and there are lots of little details that make this feel very cost indeed, including a log fire. It's very, yet still retains the essence of a classic country pub. Warm lighting, comfy chairs and metallic details make this a beautiful destination for dining and mean it will suit a variety of occasions from special birthdays to celebratory drinks. They have also updated the dining area to include a private dining room which would be perfect for Christmas lunches or work parties. However, my favourite addition has to be the pods on the terrace upstairs which will be beautiful in the summer overlooking the canal, or even in the winter, snuggled up with some mulled wine. It was a little dark when we went so we couldn't see everything in great detail, but if you visit you must take a trip up to the terrace!
The Black Horse had kindly given us the opportunity to bring three people on our table, which meant I could use it as an excuse to have a much-needed catch up with my work friends, Rhea and Laura. On arrival, we were greeted by the team and they sorted us out with some drinks. Ever the gin lovers, Rhea and I had a gin and tonic. I was VERY EXCITED by the G&T table which was packed with garnishes and cordials to adorn your gin with. I went for juniper berries, orange peel, rose petals and mint which made for a very fragrant drink to kick-start the evening!
As we sat in a cosy little booth enjoying our drinks, a huge platter of bar snacks arrived for us to enjoy and to give us a taste of what was to come. The platter featured: Pate and chutney, deep fried brie, scallops and pork belly, crispy duck, falafels, lobster and crab croquettes and mini fish and chips. It was essentially an extra starter and got us very excited to try the menu. My favourite was the scallops with pork belly and crackling. A match made in heaven! The deep fried brie also went down a treat, as did the crispy duck. After we had enjoyed our snacks, we were taken to the beautiful dining area for dinner.
We ordered a second round of drinks and perused the menu. There is plenty on offer from pub classics like roast lamb (yum) to fancy fish and veggie tartes. As we were choosing they brought us a little pot of crispy tortillas which were very tasty, though it would have been a nice touch to have some dip as they were on the dry side.
To start, Laura had the chilli squid which was served with aioli. It was crispy with just enough spice and seasoning to give it a kick. Garlic mayo is, of course, a match made in heaven with squid so this was a little treat of a starter. I LOVE calamari but I always order it so I decided on something a little different and went for the giant prawn spring roll, as did Rhea. I'm not sure what I was expecting when it arrived at my table but it was certainly a giant spring roll! It looked very pretty on the plate. Inside the oddly clear pastry, there were king prawns and lots of fresh, crunchy vegetables including fresh chillis. Combined with the chilli dip it was served with, this made for a pretty spicy starter. In hindsight, I wished I'd gone for something a bit more wholesome like soup or the scallops however this was very tasty. I had spent a long day travelling back from Amsterdam which made me drowsy so I feel like my choices were a little clouded by my tiredness...! I probably wouldn't order this again but if you're after something light and love your spice this would be right up your street.
Rhea went for a country pub classic - an apple and blackberry crumble (£5.95)! This was a real winner, especially as it came with custard. The crumble was sweet but tart and gave you all the warm fuzzy feelings on a chilly autumn evening! The custard was incredibly creamy with a distinct vanilla flavour contrasting with the tart blackberries.
I've saved Laura's dessert until last because it was by far the most impressive. She had the melting chocolate and peanut bomb (£7.95) which was filled with sticky toffee pudding and peanut butter sauce. It was served with bourbon vanilla ice cream. This is one of those beautiful spectacles where the hot salted caramel sauce is poured onto the chocolate shell so it melts to reveal the pudding inside. This was an amazing dessert and if you like chocolate, peanut and caramel this is for you! It wasn't too heavy either, which meant you can finish the whole lot. It was visually stunning too, the chocolate shell was shiny and covered in gold, and the ice cream was garnished with edible flowers. A winner all round! The manager mentioned that they were coming up with a nut-free version, so if you are allergic or not a peanut fan, you can still eat the chocolate bomb!
The Black Horse is definitely worth a visit if you are in the mood for a cosy country pub. The additions they have made in the refurbishment will definitely make this a sought-after spot for dining. Price wise, it is on the more expensive side with the mains averaging around £12-15 each. However, the quality of the food and service was great and I wouldn't hesitate in recommending it to anyone.
To view menus and book a table, visit theblackhorsegreatlinford.co.uk
This meal was provided free courtesy of The Black Horse in return for a review. This does not affect my opinion.