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Whenever a place you know well undergoes change, there’s always a sense of doubt. Will the grass be greener on the other side? For the Bowling Green in Lichfield the answer is certainly ‘yes’.
The popular pub has undergone a makeover inside and is showing off its new look with a refreshed menu. Gone are many of the dark nooks and crannies, replaced instead with a more open plan and lighter feel.
But the proof of a pub’s restaurant is most definitely in the eating – and the good news is that this element also stacks up.
The Bowling Green is still serving up favourites, but with a couple of flourishes here and there that mean the dishes don’t just feel like your run of the mill pub grub.
An afternoon family meal gave us the chance to try out the new menu, with the kids particularly impressed with the food designed for younger diners. The chicken wing starters had plenty of punch for little taste buds, although the plate would have benefited from a little more ‘styling’ to tempt in mini-diners.
A chargrilled chicken breast also hit the spot with one of the children, while the other ensured none of the particularly generous plate of fish goujons and accompaniments would be going back – and the chocolate brownie sundaes were a perfect way to round off their meal.
So with the fussy feasters sorted, it was all about impressing the other half of the family. We opted to go down the middle; one of us sampling the set menu and the other exploring the remainder of the new offering.
The set menu option is always appealing, with daytime prices from noon to 5pm seeing two courses available for £7.49 or three courses for £9.49. A standard starter of tomato and basil soup had plenty of taste and set the scene nicely for the traditional favourite that followed – beef and ale pie served with chips and peas.
Now, pub pies are a real gear-grinder; often promising so much, but delivering so little, they’re too often neglected. Thankfully, the Bowling Green have bucked the trend of soggy pastry and meagre fillings. This dish was packed full of flavour with a satisfyingly firm-yet-crumbly pastry.
On the other side of the table the starter consisted of a tasty pork and madeira pate served with a ciabatta and a gem of a pale ale chutney.
Most pub menus offer some form of curry but, as with the humble pie, they are often underwhelming. The chicken tikka makhani on offer here was the opposite, with plenty of flavour coming from the lentil, cashew nut and spinach sauce.
Despite not intending to go down the dessert option, we were tempted by a recommendation or two from the Bowling Green staff. The Eton mess sundae was rich and a perfect tonic on a warm day, but the real star of the meal show was the salted caramel profiteroles.
The classic pudding has been given a nice twist with the chocolate covered pastries, cream and vanilla ice cream combining well with the delicious caramel sauce.
And that’s the trick. The Bowling Green hasn’t tried to reinvent the wheel with its new menu and new look; instead, it’s looked to tweak a winning formula – and customers are reaping the rewards, with a brighter, more welcoming pub offering great food with flair.
We’ll definitely be back.