Restaurant Review: The Walnut Tree - Blisworth

The Walnut Tree Inn, Blisworth, Station Road.
The Walnut Tree Inn, Blisworth, Station Road.
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You know that uncomfortable feeling you sometimes get when you go into a pub you have never been into before? It can be especially bad in the countryside, where you automatically assume everyone knows each other and you won’t fit in. You imagine they’ll snigger into their pints as you walk into the ‘private office’ instead of the gents’ or something...and then talk about you afterwards.

You know that uncomfortable feeling you sometimes get when you go into a pub you have never been into before? It can be especially bad in the countryside, where you automatically assume everyone knows each other and you won’t fit in. You imagine they’ll snigger into their pints as you walk into the ‘private office’ instead of the gents’ or something...and then talk about you afterwards.

Well that doesn’t happen at The Walnut Tree in Blisworth.

People do sit at the bar and drink pints and laugh loudly, but at each other, rather than at new customers. At one point, a woman even smiled and helpfully pointed the way to the toilets.

The decor helps for some reason.

Traditional pubs bring on my worst bouts of ‘newly visited pub fear’, but The Walnut Tree has managed to style itself in a modern way, yet retain a cosy, traditional feel.

This extends to the menu. It boasts traditional pub grub, such as battered haddock and chips, as well as new and more exciting combinations.

After spending a minute or two looking for somewhere to tie up our bicycles outside, the lovely staff were ready to take our orders straight away.

For starters, we shared a salt and pepper squid, which was tender and almost jelly-like, but with a rough coating of spices. It came with a chilli jam and a few slices of the raw stuff in case you wanted a bit more of a hit.

For my main course, I had the intricately-laid out Wicken Pork, which was curled into a circle and surrounded by oddments of various tastes and textures. Two segments of pork filler wrapped in salty air-dried ham accompanied it, with all the meat on a layer of Calvados sauce and some tangy ratatouille. The chef had also made a sort of sweet potato puree that acted like a delicious creamy sauce to dip the meat into.

And laid across the whole thing were two strips of crackling (which were ear-splittingly noisy to eat, about the hardness of reinforced peanut brittle).

With my wife’s burger, the chef had the restraint to serve not a small portion, but something you could enjoy and eat, all without feeling too full. The chips were so big they were like roast potatoes (and made me wonder how big the actual roast potatoes were), but it was not overdone and let all the individual ingredients work.

For dessert, the cheeseboard (or cheese slate) came with five thick slices of ‘Award Winning British Artisan Cheese’, chutney, a cracker, two water biscuits and three McVities digestives.

The latter, probably most people’s definition of blandness, was actually an excellent complement, which I recommend to anyone to serve instead of crackers.

The food overall was very satisfactory, the service was pretty quick and polite and the price was about right, considering how delicious the meals were.

We feel a little bit less like strangers now.

As we tether up our bikes at our special spot next time, we may sit at the window and watch as other people try to get in via the false front door. Then we’ll smile and point to the real door.

Because we’re actually all a nice lot at The Walnut Tree.

The Walnut Tree

Station road,

Blisworth

01604 859551

VALUE: Good

FOOD: Just right

SERVICE: Polite and speedy

DISABLED ACCESS: Yes

PARKING: Adequate

COST OF OUR MEAL

FINAL TOTAL: £49

Nick’s star rating: 9/10