THE Gazette’s mystery Diner samples the delights of The Black Horse at Beamish, Co. Durham.
IT might be a drive away, but by the time you pull up to The Black Horse, on the outskirts of Beamish, it’s obvious the trip is worth it.
Set all alone in stunning farmland, the 300-year-old pub is in some of the most beautiful surroundings I’ve seen.
When my girlfriend and I got there, the sun was shining and the huge beer gardens, filled with picnic tables were extremely inviting. So we had ourselves a half of local real ale before eating.
Inside was just as impressive as out. The three rooms are light and airy and the whole place is a real charmer.
The menu was concise and focused on classic pub grub such as fish and chips (£10.95), sausage and mash (£10.95) and steaks with all the trimmings (between £13.95 and £25.95, depending on the cut).
We went for a pair of fishy starters, calamari and a king prawn skewer (£6.95).
There were four huge, juicy prawns on the skewer and it came with crispy noodles, a salad, aioli and a lemon dressing.
My girlfriend said the aioli and dressing were fantastic together, and complemented the prawns brilliantly. And the salad and noodles gave an extra texture to the dish.
The calamari (£5.50) was also excellent. Where it can often become chewy when it cools, the squid rings remained tender, and the spicy dip it came with packed a welcome punch.
The other half stuck with the seafood theme, ordering the classic moules mariniere (£11.50), which came with homemade bread.
Her eyes being bigger than her belly, she also asked for a bowl of thick cut chips.
I’m allergic to mussels (though I did brave one - and nice it was too) but I’m told they were lovely and the sauce the best she has ever tasted, including in France.
And the bread - and the few chips she could manage - soaked up the liquor expertly.
I chose the beef and ale pie (£10.95), which came with mash and vegetables, and it is no exaggeration to say it was the best I’ve tasted in a long time.
Tall, with thick shortcrust pastry, it looked impressive and what was inside lived up to my expectations.
It was jam-packed with tender chunks of meat and a wonderfully rich gravy.
The mash and veg it came with were just as good, and as a bit of a gravy fiend, I was delighted to see a gravy boat come out with it.
We were fit to burst by the end of the mains but managed to squeeze in a bowl of local ice cream (£3.95 for three scoops).
The setting, pub and food were all great and I can’t believe I’ve never been before.
As well as the evening menu, a set menu (two courses for £11.95 or three for £14.95) is available every lunch time and early evening.
And next week (June 18- 24) a special menu is available to coincide with national picnic week.
For £14.95 per person, the pub provides a hamper filled with goodies, including a choice of sandwich and crisps, a selection of hams and salamis and a scotch egg.
Also included are cheeses and chutneys, fruit scone, cakes and fruit.
It all sounds lovely, let’s just hope the weather matches the great food on offer.
The Black Horse Beamish, Red Row, Stanley
Tel: 01207 232 569