Hard to believe it is more than two years since my last visit to the Queens Head at Nassington, particularly given the stunning lunch I enjoyed last time out.
There have been quite a few changes in that time - new head chefs in the kitchen and the place was sold earlier this year to the company running the venue.
One thing that has remained the same, however, is the very appetising a la carte menu and the standard of the food served up.
I do love the setting - the riverside garden is fabulous and the restaurant has a certain olde-worlde rustic charm you expect from a village pub.
The restaurant boasts two AA Rosettes, something it has held on to for a couple of years now. There are not many of those around and they don’t give them out lightly, so keeping standards high is reflected in the menu and the presentation of the food.
Our starters and my main course, for instance, were perfect examples.
Looking good is only part of the deal, of course, but they certainly delivered on taste .
First up for me were the pork belly croquettes (£5.50). The breadcrumb coating packed a real crunch and just fried taste, while the meat inside was still moist and delicious. It came atop a little kohl rabbi coleslaw, drops of sweet and fruity gooseberry relish with a new take on blackpudding.
Looking equally as good across the table was the black treacle cured salmon (not cheap at £8). Again, big flavours here with dill crisps sitting proudly on top and accompanied by strips of fresh cucumber and a lime puree.
The same degree of care and finesse in presentation was evident in the faultless Lincolnshire duck breast (£16) main course. The breast was cooked perfectly, the confit leg and blackberry bon bon was crunchy, meaty, fruity all at the same time, and if only all vegetables were as good as the stem broccoli. And let’s not forget the sweet potato dumplings which were divine .
But, and there is always a but, given all that, the main course Sunday roast (£12.50) looked so out of place.
Now I will be the first to admit that presentation is never going to score high with a roast dinner, but let’s just say I have seen it done better.
It didn’t help that it was lathered in gravy and the Yorkshire pudding was in parts burnt to the colour of cinders. But the potatoes looked grey and unappetising, and the beef - while beautifully cooked and very tasty - was a bit too fatty. And while the side plate of veg looked the part, it was just so unnecessarily salty.
A great venue and menu, and the service excellent, but for me it was just a shame about the roast dinner.
THE VENUE: Queens Head Inn, 54 Station Rd, Nassington, PE8 6QB Phone: 01780 784 006 Online at www.queensheadnassington.co.uk
Brad’s rating: 8
FROM THE MENU:
from the starters
LOCAL PIGEON BREAST, pan seared, smoked corn, heritage carrot, spiced ginger bread … £6.75
JOSPER GRILLED SARDINES, tomato chutney, olive tapenade, toasted focaccia crouton … £6.75
SOFT SHELL CRAB IN TEMPURA, tomato jelly, avocado puree, Asian dressing … £8.75
from the mains
PLACE PAUPIETTE, Shetland black pommes Anna, steamed vegetables, tomato butter sauce … £13.50 PANFRIED STONE BASS, Jersey royals, samphire, globe artichoke … £14
SLOW ROAST DERBYSHIRE BEEF JACOBS LADDER, smoked mash, shallots, red wine jus … £18
LAMB RUMP, parmentier, red pepper, goats cheese & spinach tortellini, anchovy, pine nut, caper jus … £16
from the desserts
BLUEBERRY & LAVENDER CREME BRULEE, lemon shortbread biscuit … £6 CHOCOLATE & CHERRY DELICE, poached cherries, pistachio ice cream … £7 COCONUT PANNA COTTA, mango sorbet, pineapple gel, coconut tuille … £6
STRAWBERRY & WHITE CHOCOLATE cannelloni, elderflower posset, marinated strawberries … £7 STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING, butterscotch sauce … £7
ICE CREAM SELECTION … £5.50
CHEESE - Cornish Brie, Lincolnshire Poacher, Stilton, crackers, chutney, apple & celery … £9