The Blackbird

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About The Blackbird

Restaurant Description

A neatly manicured hamlet just outside Newbury, Bagnor boasts leafy lawns, green fields and picturesque woodland that all but cry out for a quality country pub. Enter Dom Robinson, ex-head chef for Tom Aikens, who has revitalised The Blackbird from run-down boozer to vintage-styled hostelry. Simple yet refined food at markedly reasonable prices is the attraction, with the outlay especially low for the lunchtime and early-evening set menu.


Three West Berkshire Brewery ales top the polished-wood bar, alongside craft lagers, spirits and a compact-but-serious wine list suited to drinkers as much as diners. Loaves of freshly baked, oaten soda bread sit cooling in one of two connected dining rooms, while an old pump organ, retro radio, original checked tiling, and tabletop candelabras set an antique, homespun tone.


Nothing is too modern or over-styled: a concept reflected in Robinson’s cooking. His modest menu might feature a fat ravioli of Kennet crayfish with buttered leeks and foaming bisque sauce or a tartare of local venison dotted with raw Jerusalem artichokes, hazelnuts and truffle shavings. In season, partridge is a treat – roasted and carved with acute precision and served with a lobe of duck liver wrapped in cabbage, buttery mash and a classic choux croute. Or try venison haunch teamed with a stack of ‘lardy’ chips and caper hollandaise, then prune and Armagnac sundae for a properly grown-up pudding. Service is all smiles.


Good to know about The Blackbird

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Cuisines
Pubs

Location for The Blackbird

Bagnor, Newbury, Berkshire, RG20 8AQ

Opening Times of The Blackbird

Wed-Sun 12N-11pm (Fri-Sat -12M, Sun -5pm)

Reviews of The Blackbird

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16 November 2018

We think that Marina O’Loughlin and the Michelin inspectors must have been to a different Blackbird from us. For the former to rave about this pub with food and the latter to award it a star is incomprehensible when you have top-class restaurants like Artichoke and Orwells, both in the Good Food Guide top 50, languishing outside the one-star ratings. This was not even the best pub food we’ve had recently either - the Purefoy Arms in Preston Candover was streets ahead. A tasting menu is scheduled for some future date, so it was a choice between a limited but very reasonably priced set lunch and the à la carte menu, which offered one or two dishes we liked the sound of. On the positive side there was a good selection of wines by the glass, and we started with a very good Hampshire fizz from the Cottonworth estate, while we browsed the menu, and followed up with a decent NZ sauvignon blanc and a nice Primitivo. Our first course was a raviolo of scallop & Kennet crayfish with young leeks and rapeseed and a tasty and well-seasoned fishy sauce. The pasta was fine but if there was some scallop it had been overpowered by the leek, however I did discover one small chunk of tender crayfish. Two of us had roast partridge with choux farci, candied fig & sauce Perigeaux (sic) as our main course - two legs and two breasts each - and the bird lacked any colour with a sloppy uncooked skin that was difficult to remove from the almost flavourless meat. I left most of mine, but finished the very acceptable Primitivo with no problem. The third member of our party found the aged loin of pork with confit root vegetables, choucroute and Cox’s apple quite reasonable, as was the shiraz recommended by the helpful waitress. We all chose the chocolate fondant for dessert, which came with not very boozy Bailey’s ice cream, and Camp Coffee mousse as a contrast to the ok but undressed fondant. At least the coffee was good. Our impression of the Blackbird was not helped by the old-fashioned and frankly twee decoration of the no-star dining room. We expected far better.

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