Our man joins the well-heeled locals at a Warwickshire favourite
The Boot Inn * * * *
Old Warwick Road,
Warwickshire B94 6JU
Tel: 01564 782464
Most of these customers are probably Village People,” said Goodly Other Half, as we stood in the packed bar area at The Boot.
I looked around; I couldn’t see the construction worker, sailor, cowboy – or the leather-clad biker with the dropped handlebar ‘tache for that matter.
“Yes, very funny,” said GOH, humouring me. “No – village people – people who live in the village.”
Granted it was a Friday night, but they couldn’t have got many more [village] people in the place without looking like they were trying to set a Guinness World Record.
We shuffled to the bar and grabbed a drink – we were 15 minutes early and the table wasn‘t yet ready.
Once we arrived in the restaurant upstairs I saw why; tables were being turned over faster than you could say ‘box baked Camembert’.
While we ate, three or four sets of diners finished their meals to be soon replaced by another group of voracious visitors.
It was easy to see just why The Boot is so popular – a simple formula of cosy surroundings with a naturally buzzy atmosphere, friendly and highly competent staff – and great food.
The menu was overwhelming, in a good way – like being told you’d won the Lottery, been made captain of the England team and Scarlett Johansson wanted to bear your children. It was too much to take in.
The sharing plates (including that boxed Camembert) all looked good, but the starters had even more tempting offers; tuna and salmon sashimi, bubble and squeak with free range egg and hollandaise, or seared scallops of the day...
Eventually I settled on the gambas in chilli and garlic (£7.95) – four hunking great prawns served simply in their juices with a sprig of rocket. Fresh, meaty, delicious. There was no need to do anything more to them. Except chomp and enjoy.
GOH ummed and ahhed (as is her prerogative) but eventually decided on the smoked haddock fishcake with egg (£6.95) – a big portion for a starter, but quality as well as quantity; a crispy outer, solid but not stodgy, flaky fish and the creamiest of velvety egg yokes, with a horseradish hollandaise that was a great combination.
Happily the main courses maintained the standard – and despite the place being busier than Harrods on Boxing Day, the mains were neither hurried out and slapped down, nor did we have to wait an eternity. The pause was just right.
Staff smiled like they meant it, never looked in a panic and were nigh-on faultless.
My ribeye steak with vine tomatoes, maple roast shallots, bearnaise sauce and chips (£15.95) was cooked to perfection, medium rare just as ordered – no mean feat when there are dozens of orders on the go in the hectic kitchen. I didn’t expect the shallots to be cold, but that aside it was a fabulous piece of meat, and the chips were dry, crispy and moreish.
GOH’s mignons of beef (£16.95) were beautifully succulent and tender; the knife slid through, and the creamy, rich cognac sauce (and yes, you could taste it) and crunchy thick-cut chips complemented wonderfully. We also shared a bowl of greens (£2.95) – shredded Savoy cabbage, leeks and peas – which were fresh, crisp and not cooked to death as in some restaurants.
We needed time to recover after all that if we were to tackle the sweet list, but here is where The Boot let itself down, a microscopic blot on its copybook.
After plates were cleared, we seemed to have been deserted rather than ‘desserted’, and after about 20 minutes I finally flagged down a waitress to ask for puds and a coffee.
We only managed one between us – a healthy slice of Baileys cheesecake, which was pretty decent – and with a coffee and three glasses of wine between us, the bill just edged £70.
So, okay, you might not pop down The Boot for dinner every Friday night at 70 quid a throw, but when the food and service is this good, I can see why some of the well-heeled village people do just that.
As their namesakes so aptly put it: “you can have a good meal; you can do whatever you feel...”