It might have lasted less than an hour but the food at The New Inn was something to savour says Dave Lee.
A balmy Friday evening in high summer with the sun setting in a cloudless-but-hazy azure sky over Humberside Airport and a welcome breeze easing through an open sash window. A big round table, a comfy chair, fresh-baked bread and a cool pint. The New Inn at Great Limber would have to serve seriously lousy food to mess up a perfectly lovely night like this. Fortunately it doesn’t.
The North Lincolnshire estate pub of the Eighth Earl of Yarborough (It is his 27,000- acre Brocklesby Park that we are sat within), the New Inn has been serving guests for over 240 years. It had a major refit a couple of years ago and now features swish bedrooms and private dining and utilises produce from the estate gardens in the kitchen. It’s all very nice. And well-appointed. And posh. There are expensive-looking modern artworks all over the walls, chandeliers and even some kind of Native American shroud (or Inuit christening gown or maybe Victorian fancy dress, it’s hard to tell) framed and hung in the entrance. Expense has not been spared.
Me being me, though, my eye is drawn to the bookcase next to our table which appears to be bending under the strain of second-hand biographies of establishment figures; military men, Churchill, the Alan Clark Diaries and A Royal Duty by Paul Burrell all fight an-alphabetically for shelf space. No room here for the Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists or Clement Atlee’s Twilight of Empire. Perhaps they’re in the bedrooms.
Before I get chance to fully mount my high horse, the menu arrives. It’s comfortingly brief (six starters at £5.50 to £8.50, six mains from £14.95 to £23.95) and thoroughly tempting. There is a specials board as well which, unusually, offered less enticing dishes than on the menu. I was a whisker away from ordering blackened goats cheese, pear and candied pecans just because it sounded so interesting but, instead, I plumped for fillet beef carpaccio with pickled vegetables and garden salad. Despite the veg (cauli florets, carrot etc.) being a little under-pickled and consequently rather too al dente, it was all perfectly tasty. The other starter of smoked mackerel pate with garden salad, rhubarb and ginger salsa and rhubarb sorbet had been better constructed. The well-balanced salsa and sorbet providing some rounder flavours to tackle the sharpness of the mackerel.
Mains brought a deeply-flavoured plate of juicy pan fried pigeon with fondant potato, maple shallot and girolle mushroom with Madeira and thyme jus. Nothing flash, just a solid dish of cared-for food. Similarly, my pan fried corn-fed chicken with sweetcorn, a chorizo and butter bean cassoulet and sweetcorn bhaji won’t give Heston Blumenthal a run in the ingenuity stakes, but it was a solid, flavourful serving of decent grub. Unfussy, yet fulfilling. I’d have liked the menu to have specified that both dishes featured just breast and not the whole beast as the one extra word would have managed my expectations and helped me better imagine the dish, but these are minor quibbles. We also had a side dish of lovely cheesy chips (calling them triple cooked fries with Parmesan and truffle oil will never fool anyone, by the way. They’re just cheesy chips).
For puds (all £7) we had a very hearty and welcome warm coconut sponge with mango and raspberry and a salted caramel and praline cheesecake with sour cherry which featured my favourite ingredient of the night. Blades of stretched pink chocolate were sitting proud of the cheesecake, like the jagged turrets of a fantasy castle. They were tasty and tacky and chewy and like something you’d get from a sweet shop in the 70s. I’d have happily eaten a bowlful of them alone.
If I were to pick a fault with the New Inn, I’d have to say that service was a little rushed. Yes, it was Friday night but we had been served our three courses and were out the door within an hour. The tweed-clad old country gent who was seated at the next table to ours had only a (very nice looking) plate of fish and chips in the same time it took for our entire meal to be ordered, served and washed up.
I’d have like to stretched out and luxuriated a bit between courses but the food just kept appearing with whiplash alacrity and I got the feeling later diners had their name etched on our table before we’d even sat down. In at 8pm, out by 9pm leaves Dave feeling like a rushed lad. Without doubt I’ll be back to the New Inn at Great Limber, they serve good food in very comfy surroundings. Next time I go, though, I may try and sneak a copy of Letters To My Grandchildren by Tony Benn onto the bookshelf. Just to stop it leaning so heavily to one side.
2 High Street, Great Limber, Grimsby, DN37 8JL. 01469 569998, thenewinngreatlimber.co.uk
Open: Monday, 4.30-10.30pm; Tuesday to Saturday, 12-11pm; Sunday, 12-10.30pm.
Drink selection 3/5