Black Boy Hotel, Newtown
Reviewer's rating *** Kirsty Marston drops in at a friendly town pub where the carvery serves up a generous treat.
On a journey between our home in Telford and an afternoon birthday party in Newtown we had planned to stop off somewhere for lunch, writes Kirsty Marston.
But we did the usual thing – didn't stop at the first place because our son had not long gone to sleep, the next place was too quiet and the next place too busy and it went on.
Then we found ourselves in Newtown with no idea where to eat. After driving around the town the carvery board outside the Black Boy enticed us in.
The only time I had been to the pub before was during a Saturday night out with my cousin and my memory of the place is vague. The bar area was busy with diners – including plenty of families. After asking at the bar if there was an available table we were told to help ourselves to any free table and then go to the carvery.
As the tables were full in the bar area we went through to the "carvery room" at the back of the pub. I felt like I was in a time warp and was back in the school canteen – a girl sitting at a till taking money, a woman in an apron clearing tables and paper table clothes.
But this is not a criticism because with the friendly and welcoming staff at the Black Boy and the great food – what they offer is perfect.
They do not pretend to offer five star fine dining but do offer fantastic home-cooked food at extremely reasonable prices.
We found a free table and as we were paying by card, my husband was directed to pay at the bar. The till is cash only. We didn't see a menu but asked if they offered starters and were told they didn't usually but would if we wanted one – as we were pushed for time and knew we would be having a party buffet later we opted out.
As our young son needed feeding first, my husband went up for his carvery while I fed Eddie. John soon returned with a plate full – a huge selection of fresh vegetables and a huge portion of both turkey and beef.
As I was still dieting at this point, I was determined to be good! Well the thought was there. I would have usually had just turkey as a healthy option but the tender and juicy lamb joint was just too tempting so I had both. But I did resist the offer of a half roast chicken, beef and gammon.
But other customers could be seen with their plates piled high with a bit of everything. The offer of a crispy half roast chicken was a welcome change. The selection of vegetables was the largest I had seen on a carvery – including a selection of beans, root vegetables, crispy roast potatoes and parsnips.
The choice was impressive. Everything was obviously fresh and piping hot, with anything which was nearing the end being replenished regularly by the kitchen staff. The friendly chef was generous with her helping of meat and impressed me when she offered to cut off the fat around the edge of my meat. Small touches and offers can make a huge difference.
Despite my good intentions, I couldn't resist the crispy parsnips or the roast potatoes but made myself feel better by having plenty of vegetables to go with it! The huge portion of succulent turkey beat me but what I did manage was delicious. It really was cooked to perfection. While the one slice of lamb I asked for also got top marks.
I never order lamb at a carvery, or for a Sunday lunch while dining out, because it so often contains more fat than meat. But this was lovely with no fat visible.
With the huge Yorkshire puddings and topped with gravy, the carvery got top marks from both of us.
Time and stomach restraints meant we didn't have desserts. But there were some on offer and, no, they are not home-made but are good quality sweets at just £3 and who can argue at that.
The Black Boy is a freehouse so is popular with real-ale drinkers, locals, hotel residents and judging by the queue, Sunday diners. It turns into a busy pub for drinkers in the evening as they do not serve food unless it is a pre-booked party of 20 or more.
Since our visit, and I must admit our surprise at how good the food and service was, we have since been told by people that customers are often seen queuing outside the pub from 11.30am as the carvery is so popular every day of the week.
As I have already explained, this is not a fine dining experience but "cheap and very cheerful" comes to mind. It is a traditional pub with traditional food with friendly local staff. The food is also locally sourced so local farmers are supported too.
Black Boy Hotel, 31 Broad St, Newtown SY16 2BQ
Powys. Tel: 01686 626834.
Not on the menu but served on request.
MAIN COURSES Carvery Tuesday to Sunday, noon- 2pm (weekday £6.75 and Sunday £7.50); Selection of bar meals Mon-Sat noon-2pm including: Chicken tikka (£6); beef madras (£6); battered cod (£6.75); breaded plaice (£6.75)
DESSERTS Sticky toffee pudding (£3); bread and butter pudding (£3); lemon meringue pie (£3)
ATMOSPHERE Friendly, traditional pub.
SERVICE Excellent, efficient and friendly.
Both disabled access and toilets.
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