Everyone has an opinion on restaurants these days, although reading social media suggests you should take some with a pinch of salt.
But, when a chef you hold in high regard gives you a few pointers on a rival establishment - how it is operating at a high level and turning out great food consistently, it is, in my opinion, worth taking note.
So it is I ended up at The Blue Bell in Glinton on a Saturday night, although in truth I was more than aware of the place having reviewed it in 2015 and returned for special meals – Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and wife’s birthday – and more in the past couple of years.
It might be a cliche, but I’ve never had a bad meal.
It is a beautiful looking stone-built place at the heart of the village and the the interior is everything you imagine from first glance.
It has been improved recently with a stunning oak framed garden room which opens out on the newly revamped pub garden .
So to the food.
There was a pub fayre menu - burger, ham and eggs, fish and chips etc - in addition to steaks and the regular a la carte, which is where I turned my attention.
The pan fried lamb sweetbreads (£6.95) got things off to a great start for me. Delicate in texture and subtle in flavour - at least by offal standards, they tasted almost creamy, which made for a great combination with the chestnut mushrooms and the sherry vinegar dressing. The sourdough toast did a great job of mopping it all up.
Donna’s poached duck egg (£6.95) was just right, married with peas, asparagus (only one spear though), crisp pancetta and a delicious pesto running through it all.
Having been blown away recently by a pork ribeye steak, I was drawn to the marinated T-bone pork chop (£13.50) - a mighty piece of meat - and I wasn’t let down. It was terrific - and compliments to the chef for handling such a thick cut so well. The champ mash was thick and creamy, the greens done nicely and the sweet oregano and cider sauce was amazing.
Donna’s sea trout was pan fried to perfection with garlic and parsley butter, and a mountain of fresh vegetables (in exchange for sauteed potatoes (£14.50).
Dessert would normally have been surplus to requirements after such a feasting, but we were on a roll.
For me it was vanilla panna cotta (in a bowl but it still passed the wobble test), with the sweet rhubarb compote contrasting with the creme fraiche (£5.95); Donna, meanwhile, tucked into a selection of regional cheeses with biscuits (£7.95) and was particularly taken with the blue.
It was a busy evening with a bit of a buzz, but the service and the food more than stood up to the test and we left totally satisfied, if, in my case, a little stuffed.
Brad Barnes dines at The Blue Bell in High Street, Glinton, tel 01733 252285 www.bluebellglinton.co.uk
Brad’s Rating: 10