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Village Food & Drink

Good day at Black Rock!

Posted on February 18 2010 at 7:32:25 0 comments

Sally Oldaker samples the unusual cooking technique that’s creating a stir at the Dodford Inn.

With most pubs now offering food of some sort, the pressure is on to find a “unique selling point”, something different that will get people through the doors and, crucially, get them spreading the word.

The Dodford Inn has done just that with the introduction of the Black Rock Grill, a novel concept which allows diners to watch their food cooking right in front of them.

Slabs of volcanic rock are heated to 440˚C in a special oven and transferred to ceramic platters, whereupon the chosen meat or fish is placed on top and seared for 30 seconds on both sides before being delivered to the table.

The slabs retain their intense heat for around 40 minutes, so diners can cook the food to their individual liking – this solves the problem of a chef’s interpretation of “well done” being somewhat different from the customer’s.

We couldn’t resist popping along to give this intriguing idea a go, and clearly we were not the only ones as the Dodford was pretty busy for a Tuesday evening. The menu offered a choice of rump or sirloin steak, lamb, pork, chicken, or a veggie option of vegetable and halloumi cheese skewers, and landlord Richard Scott told us that salmon and tuna are offered subject to availability.

There’s a choice of dips – BBQ, garlic mayo, sweet chilli or extra-hot Goan lime – and at present all dishes are served with chips and salad, although there are plans to add alternative options in the future.

I chose lamb, Lisa picked chicken and Georgina went for sirloin steak, and we ordered all the dips except lime! Having enjoyed the homemade garlic bread on our last visit, Georgina requested it again – and Richard’s wife Mini, who does the cooking, was happy to make it.

Normally, when someone orders steak, you’d expect to wait at least 20 minutes, but pretty soon after we’d got our drinks the dishes were coming towards us, sizzling and steaming and creating a real buzz in the pub.

We were given the rules, the main one being “DO NOT touch the rock” – it’s a bit hot, as Lisa discovered when her finger brushed against it later – and offered fetching paper bibs to protect our clothes, which was a very good idea!

We all like our meat well done, so we followed the advice to cut it into smaller bits to help it along, and tucked into the excellent chips while we waited. The steak was ready first, and the chicken not far behind, with the lamb taking slightly longer due to it being a thick cut – and the taste was fantastic, with that wonderful chargrilled flavour.

No oil is required, as the meats use their natural juices, and they certainly stayed juicy – Mini informed us that their top-quality meat is supplied by the “brilliant” Dave Rollings & Son of Studley (who also supplied pork pies for the Pork Pie Night last month).

We didn’t have room for pudding, but rounded off the meal with delicious mulled wine instead – ideal for a winter night in front of the pub’s real fire.

Richard and Mini are delighted with the Black Rock Grill, which they had first spotted at a pub near Nottingham. The Dodford is the only pub within a 30-mile radius to offer it, with most of the grills based in the south of the UK.

“We asked for a demonstration from the company, and we were sold on the idea in about half an hour,” says Mini. ”There are so many possibilities – fajitas, king prawns, stir-fry, fruit kebabs…”

If feedback continues to be good, these ideas and more will be available later in the year – and meanwhile, diners can enjoy the hands-on fun of an individual cooking station.

The Dodford Inn, Whinfield Road, Dodford B61 9BG  
Tel: 01527 575815
http://www.thedodfordinn.com


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