I don’t know about you, but I just love visiting a nice local village pub which has recently been taken over by a new energetic young couple, out to prove themselves.
Well that’s exactly why I found myself on the way to The Bell Inn at Great Bourton on a bright, sunny, crisp Sunday afternoon in mid-January, filled with a sense of excitement and anticipation as I had heard that great changes had been made by Rob and Jodie Gregory and that the food was very good.
Rob and Jodie took over this Hook Norton pub last June and since then have introduced a fresh internal décor and new tables and chairs and almost doubled the size of the garden. They have also overseen the installation of a brand new kitchen, revamped the cellar and installed new pipes for the beers.
However, the biggest change of all has been the employment of Jake a very experienced Chef with a penchant for fresh ingredients and Dani as Front of House Manager. Gin is now very fashionable, there are 34 brands in stock and Dani is an expert in pairing them with the wide range of tonics available today. So if you want expert advice just ask her.
The pub is in an enviable, slightly elevated position, in the village of Great Bourton just 3 miles from Banbury and directly opposite All Saints Church with it’s rather unique and distinctive separate bell tower at the front.
My first impression as I entered the front door and turned right into the bar was that the open log fire blazing away made it very warm and welcoming.
One look at the Sunday Lunch Menu was enough for me to make my choice of Devilled Whitebait with Garlic Aioli Dip followed by Roast Leg of Lamb with Roast Potatoes and Parsnips, a side dish of Peas, Carrots and Beans and for dessert Seasonal Fruit Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream. The service was efficient and my first reaction was that the food looked very fresh and in line with their policy of being involved in the preparation and cooking of everything from start to finish.
The meal certainly exceeded my expectations. Firstly, the plates were hot and the presentation was excellent.
The Devilled Whitebait was a generous serving and delicious and the vegetables and lamb were cooked to perfection. In fact, the roast potatoes probably could not be bettered by anyone, anywhere and believe me, I know my roast potatoes. When it came to the dessert, I overheard a chap at the next table who also had the Seasonal Fruit Crumble saying to his companion who was enjoying the Raspberry & Almond Frangipane “This is fab, you can really taste the fresh fruit in here“ She replied “Yes and mine has proper raspberries”
I extended my survey to a family of 10 who were on their first visit and had just finished their meals. They had chosen The Bell Inn as they knew that it had been recently taken over, had heard good reports on the food which they all enjoyed and which was described by them all as lovely. Furthermore they said they would certainly come again.
This pub deserves to succeed, they have a great menu, a commitment to locally sourced ingredients, a reasonably priced wine list, great beer, loads of gin and a dedicated team.
As well as the regular menu they have lots of offers from 6.00pm to 8.30pm on Wednesday Burger Night, Thursday Tapas Night and Friday Fish night.
If you like the sound of this…book up early…they only have seating for 26 diners…and it’s sure to become increasingly popular.
The Bell Inn, Manor Rd, Great Bourton, OX17 1QP
Tel: 01295 750862