If you like to arrive at a restaurant and feel a real sense of drama, go to the Black Iron restaurant after nightfall. The eaterie is part of Winstanley House, the freshly-renovated former stately home in Braunstone Park, and the striking uplighting on the façade of the building evokes the atmosphere of a special occasion. The sense of Georgian grandeur with a modern twist continues inside as you enter the airy reception area and thread through into the heart of the Grade II listed building, where the restaurant is located.
We were invited along to sample the restaurant’s food just before it was opened to paying customers, with the finishing touches still being applied to the building’s £2million-plus renovation. The restaurant is divided into two sections and the area we were seated in was quite stark, lacking pictures or other decoration on the walls, but considering that the building had been derelict before the renovation was started, it’s an amazing transformation. And to be honest, the lack of a few pictures on the wall was soon forgotten once the food started arriving.
For starters, I opted for the Earl Grey smoked mackerel served with avocado and pickled cucumber. The dish was beautifully presented, the fish flaked and smoked to perfection – I even loved the cucumber, which is a first for me! My partner went for the glazed pork cheeks with toasted sourdough and pickled apple. As with every dish we were served, it looked great and tasted even better, with modern presentation and decent portions. All the meat served at Black Iron is sourced from Onley Grounds Farm, Rugby, whose produce is top-notch, as our main courses were to confirm.
A charcoal-fired oven is the centrepiece of the Black Iron kitchen, and it compliments the quality meat beautifully, as proved by my partner’s rib-eye steak. It was chargrilled to perfection, tender and succulent, accompanied by deliciously crispy chips cooked in dripping and tasty fresh salad. I chose the belly pork, which was sweet and delicious; although the crackling wasn’t crispy as promised on the menu, in hindsight I was glad, because I wasn’t risking another trip to the dentist with a broken filling. The accompanying mashed potato was creamy and smooth, while the cider jus and burnt apple purée enhanced the flavour of the pork beautifully. An Argentinian Malbec from the wine list washed it all down in fine style – a very refined glug for only £4.50 a glass.
Time for pudding, and I make no excuses for the fact that we both plumped for the sticky toffee pudding and ice cream. We just couldn’t help ourselves and it was the best we’ve ever had – sweet, comforting and with lashings of sauce, it was one of those puds that makes you close your eyes, focus on the intense flavour sensations going on in your mouth and go ‘mmmmm…’
And that just about summed up the evening. The food was excellent, the service throughout the meal was friendly and attentive, and we ended the evening feeling we’d enjoyed a special treat in a special place.