The Black Boy is a quirky and cosy pub in Winchester. Here’s my review of the pub’s simple and delicious roast dinner.
The Black Boy in Winchester might just be the perfect pub.
There’s a great ever-changing selection of well-kept beer, open fires and low ceilings, a sheltered beer-garden, lots of cosy spots to hole up on a rainy winter afternoon, board games, table football, a retro arcade machine, books, newspapers, humorous graffiti in the toilets…
And if that’s not enough to keep you occupied as you sip on your ale, the walls, shelves, windowsills, ceilings and corners are stuffed (literally in the case of some of the dead animals) with bric-a-brac of all descriptions – a collection of fire buckets, a moose’s head, a job lot of blow torches, empty medicine bottles and much more.
Whether you’re on your second visit or your 50th, you’re sure to spot something you haven’t seen before.
Yes, it’s a bit of a tourist attraction for visitors to the city who take the time to seek it out.
But you’d never realise it because the pub is so well supported by the local community. And why not?
The Black Boy does food too, at lunchtimes from Tuesday to Sunday and in the evenings from Tuesday to Saturday.
The menu is how it should be in a pub like this – simple, hearty and good value.
And it doesn’t get any simpler than the Sunday roast dinner menu. All you need to do is choose your meat (or the vegetarian nut roast) and hand over your £10 at the bar.
Getting a table
It’s important to know that you can’t book a table at the Black Boy, so it’s best to get there early if it’s too cold to sit outside.
We arrived just before midday and were lucky to get the last large table (there were six of us). The other smaller tables at the back of the pub filled up in a flash soon after.
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As usual, there was a good selection of local beers on at the bar. Despite my exploits of my previous day’s pub crawling, I couldn’t resist a pint of Flower Pots Bitter (3.8%) from the Cheriton-based brewery/pub to go with my roast beef. Tiff had a cuppa.
We didn’t have long to wait for the busy yet friendly waiting staff to bring the dinners to our table.
I had a generous helping of beef on my plate, cooked to perfection with some pinkness around the middle. There were also a few roasties, a couple of spoonfuls of carrot, swede, cauliflower and kale and a Yorkshire pud to top things off.
And it tasted as good as it looked. The beef was juicy and tender, the roasties nicely cooked and the gravy the perfect consistency.
Of course, I needed another drink once I’d polished off my pint. This time I had a half of Alfred’s “Saxon Bronze” (3.8%), an ale brewed in the city. And a glass of water – yesterday was fast catching up on me.
After I scoffed down my roast, I’d have happily stayed in the pub by the fire all afternoon. Unfortunately though, those Christmas presents won’t buy themselves*. So it was off to the city’s shops via the Christmas market.
(Pro tip: go to the market through the Priory Gate ‘back’ entrance to avoid queuing at the front of the Cathedral – it’s handy from the Black Boy).
What did I miss from my perfect pub criteria at the beginning of this review?
A good roast dinner of course. The Black Boy certainly doesn’t disappoint.
Try it – but don’t get there too late!
Info: The Black Boy is at 1 Wharf Hill, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 9NP. Phone 01962 861754. From the city’s High Street, head down to the River Itchen bridge past the statue of King Alfred and walk along the river. When the river disappears under a building, turn left and you’ll see the pub half way up the hill.
*I lied – Tiff buys all the Christmas presents.