Restaurant Review: The Boat Inn, Stoke Bruerne

The Boat Inn in Stoke Bruerne.

The Boat Inn in Stoke Bruerne.

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There’s probably not a restaurant built that couldn’t be enhanced by a waterside location.

Sea views are obviously the kings of hydrovista gastronomy (as I am now Christening it) and can be both breathtaking and somewhat romantic.

Rivers, too, provide a beautiful backdrop for a relaxing meal while watching life drift sedately pass.

But canals are sometimes overlooked.

In the case of The Boat Inn, the canal is specifically overlooked by a popular pub with a very good restaurant indeed.

Large first floor windows allow those lucky enough to get a seat alongside to look out on the walkers and narrowboats as they dine.

To me, in the hydrovista gastronomy league table, canals sit higher than rivers because of the level of human activity thereon.

Noboby passing the mixture of physics, engineering and ceremony of a canal vessel rising up or descending through a lock cannot have been at least tempted to spectate.

And people live on canals, which automatically makes them interesting, not least because, from narrowboat roofs, you can derive a satisfying level of insight into how the occupant spends his or her leisure time.

So The Boat Inn was already on to a winner.

But you’ll be wanting to know about the food...

A good sign was the thought put into the starters.

Among the options were melon with red wine sorbet; goats cheese with blueberry chutney; and mackerel flakes served with sour cream and sliced beetroot.

We went for the pork belly and pan-fried black pudding (£6.75), which were supremely tender and perfectly cooked respectively.

At the same time we also shared a texture-filled chicken liver pate with an extra-fruity chutney, served with a tasty soft, fresh bloomer instead of the usual toast or biscuits (£5.95).

Our main courses were from the wide choice of Sunday roasts, with very generous portions of veg and roast potatoes. The prevailing fashion, particularly in some pubs, is to offer a couple of choices to appear engagingly simple.

However we appreciated the options for a change and chose the grilled Gressingham duck breast, which was enhanced beautifully by a honey and ginger sauce (£17.95).

And continuing the ‘sweet meat’ theme, I had the succulent, tender rump of lamb, which was basted with herbs and covered in lip-smacking redcurrant and orange gravy (£16.95).

The food, therefore, could not be faulted.

In fact the only downside we could find was the parking.

We had been told over the phone we could park at the Navigation Inn, less than five minutes’ walk away.

However, The Navigation Inn car park had a large sign saying ‘patrons only’, leading to a nagging, although needless, worry about a towtruck arriving throughout the meal.

Aside from that the combination of a special view and delicious food make The Boat Inn a reliably satisfying choice.

VALUE: Pub-meal average

FOOD:Many options

SERVICE:Above average

DISABLED ACCESS: Stairlift

PARKING: Very little on-site

COST OF OUR MEAL

FINAL TOTAL: £38.20

Nick’s star rating: 7/10