“ Address: Bromsgrove Road / Belbroughton / Stourbridge / DY9 9XU „
For Boxing Day 2012 my parents decided it would make a nice change for some of the family to get together and eat out rather than put on a buffet and instead let someone else do the tidying, washing up, putting away etc. My father had decided we should have a 3 course meal at The Bell in Bell Broughton. My parents have eaten at The Bell many times before and so have I (albeit a few years ago now) so they had hoped they would be getting a wonderful 3 course meal.
== Introduction ==
The Bell at Bell Broughton is a wonderfully presented pub in the village of Bell Broughton just outside of Stourbridge in the West Midlands (close to Romsley, Kidderminster). Close to the M5 it has good transport links for the car however if travelling by bus or train you are incredibly limited so getting there by car seems the only way or at least the easiest. The car park is an incredibly decent size with a few disabled spaces at the front.
The Bell is set in an incredibly old building which has been tastefully looked after and renovated. It has been turned into a rustic yet almost chic pub giving a warming invite to all those that eat and drink inside. It's décor is as said slightly rustic with a modern twist, it is incredibly clean and well present and really quite faultless. It definitely has a wonderful atmosphere and on a winters day such as Boxing day with a log fire going you do feel incredibly cosy in such a large building.
== The Staff ==
Unfortunately the normally prompt and polite staff seemed to have been pushed to their limits on Boxing Day and did look a little fraught almost as if the customers were inconvenient at the slightest question. The bar staff did seem to be a little more relaxed but clearly under the strain. Our designated waitress had unfortunately fallen at the first hurdle when she explained that the pub had just simply overbooked and 'they' were having to pick up the pieces - surely an employee shouldn't push the employer under the bus or at least not so honestly.
== Food & Drink ==
We had been booked in for the Boxing Day menu which consisted of a choice of five starters, five mains and five puddings. The choice was well thought of giving room for vegetarians, fish lovers and meat lovers. It seemed like a well balanced selection. Starters consisted of melon, corned beef hash with poached egg and stuffed mushroom. Mains consisted of Fish and Chips, a turkey dinner, gnocchi with butternut squash and pudding examples were yule log, fudge cake and Christmas Pudding. For an extra few pounds you could have had a cheese board but for £18.95 for a 3 course meal the selection was decent.
The drinks selection was incredibly varied which was nice as I didn't particularly want to drink. There was an extensive wines menu offering something for everyone including those who have a taste for expensive bubbles. Prices were not overly ridiculous compared to other similar type pubs. Soft drinks again were varied giving a few more unusual choices which for me was a nice change to your glass of coke or lemonade.
== Misc ==
The one thing I like in a pub or restaurant is decent toilets. Unfortunately the toilets in The Bell let it down a little and this was probably due to the high volume of people on Boxing Day but it would have been nice if they had paid a little more attention to them as although clean they were a bit grubby and the décor was not in keeping with the pub overall - a small personal gripe.
Child friendly? Yes, my 26 month old daughter obviously accompanied us on our visit and although they had offered a high chair we had already brought her booster seat and they were more than happy to find another chair to add to the end of the table which was nice.
== Our Experience ==
We had our table booked at 3.30pm but arrived a little earlier at 3.10pm to find the car park completely full. Having waited for a space we finally parked and hurried in outside out of the rain. We were met with a completely full waiting area/bar area and managed to squeeze and pounce on a party leaving a table so we could at least sit down. We made our arrival known and told that the party at our table were just leaving and it wouldn't be long - this was at 3.15pm. By 3.50pm we were all starting to loose a little patience as were a few other people and asked a member of staff what was happening and again met with the same response. By 4pm my father got up and collared a poor young waiter who miraculously took us to our table.
The menus were already set out as placements and we all (all is 12 people) chose hurriedly as by this point we are all quite hungry. Our busty waitress came straight over and rather than even saying hello quickly advised what was off the menu - fish and chips as well as there is an hour wait on the main course (marvellous!). After several people now having to change their order we eventually ordered and settled into chat until she came back 15 minutes later and informed us what was now off the menu and again a few of us had to change our orders (including myself).
After 30 minutes our starters came. I had opted for corned beef hash with a poached egg as had several other people. My corned beef hash had obviously been sat on the plate for some time as it was just about luke warm yet the poached egg was hot. My partner had the deep fried breaded brie which seemed to have been the safest option as the stuffed mushroom (yes just one) looked over done and tasteless - and apparently it was. Still left hungry the plates were eventually taken away and the wait began.
Main meals eventually and slowly made their way out to us. I had changed my original order of Homemade Scotch Egg on bubble and squeak with hollandaise sauce to gnocchi with feta and butternut squash and I was presented with a small, starter size portion with what looked like a whole bag of watercress dumped on the top. My aunt opted for the same and fortunately the gnocchi was cooked to how it should be. My partner had the turkey dinner which was 'okay' and my uncle had the Chinese sticky chicken which looked visually appealing yet apparently was dry as was the homemade burger.
At this point my father had lost all patience with the rudeness of the staff and the poor quality of the food and had asked for the manager to come over to the table but not before the waitress saying "oh I am not surprised you didn't look happy when you sat down". The manager duly came over and my father took delight in advising in detail as to what was wrong with the meal and the overall experience. The manager advised that he was incredibly sorry and advised we wouldn't be charged for the meal and my father's deposit which was paid at the time of booking was going to be fully refunded (and it was that evening). #
After resolving issues with the manager we finally ordered desert only to be sat there for another half an hour at which point my daughter had lost patience given that we had been there for over 3 hours and we decided just to get up and go. The funny part was the waitress had just come over to tell us that all the puddings we had chosen had run out and the only thing available was Christmas pudding which just about summed the whole meal up - what we all wanted wasn't possible as they hadn't got enough or the head chef hadn't factored in how many people/bookings were attending.
As we were leaving we noticed the manager speaking to a very heated couple about the set menu which had changed quite significantly since we arrived. The couple were holding a piece of paper about A5 size and due to being quite loud we could clearly hear what was being said. This 'new' menu was the Boxing day menu and consisted of to start fishcakes, for the main Chinese sticky chicken or turkey dinner and for pudding Christmas pudding. The couple explained to him quite furiously that they had booked for a party of 12 back in September for the original menu at £18.95 a head and they now had this awful menu which had of course resulted in their Boxing Day being ruined.
== Overall ==
It is such a shame that The Bell wasn't organised enough and that goes for the staff and of course for the kitchen staff as they have been open for many years and are used to providing food to the public on a 7 day week. The staff were not helpful, they had clearly lost the will to live on Boxing Day no doubt tired and fed up (but still that isn't the customers fault). The food was pretty atrocious, clearly cooked for the masses as it was neither hot nor tasteful and of course a complete disgrace that despite offering such a wide menu they couldn't provide it.
The Bell was one of my parents favourites and unfortunately it has gone down completely in their estimations and I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of those attending on Boxing Day won't be returning nor giving the place a high recommendation. It's a real shame given their usual high quality of food and service but they just managed to overbook themselves and managed to ruin what should be a wonderful day into one where people were left frustrated and angry. Not a recommendation from me.
== Useless Information ==
Tel: 01562 731928
11.30am to 11.30pm Monday to Saturday,
11am to 11pm Sunday
Food available: 12pm to 10pm Monday to Saturday,
12pm to 9.30pm Sunday
On their website (which seems to be the only decent thing about the place) you will find all the information you need to know about the pub itself including booking online, taking advantage of their offers (they regularly have themed nights) as well as quite detailed information on how to get there - should you want to!
== Rating ==
Personally, based on my last experience I can't really recommend this place although my parents have had some very good meals here on the not so busy days. Therefore, I will be generous and give it 2 stars but I won't personally return.