Restaurant review: St Leger Bistro-by-the-Bar at Ye Olde Bell, Retford

Adam Lowe

Featured image: Adam Lowe

We were pleased to check out the restaurant and bistro during our stay at the beautiful Ye Olde Bell in Retford recently. The food at the hotel and spa has been awarded an AA Rosette, and it’s obvious why once you sit down to eat.

We were offered the choice of sitting in the stylish Restaurant Bar 1650 (pictured below) or the more relaxed but vibrant St Leger Bistro-by-the-Bar. We opted for the latter, as it was a cold winter evening after a long day, and we fancied something a little less formal.

Featured image: Ye Olde Bell

This was definitely the right choice for us, as the bar was a very friendly and open space. If we’d had a more leisurely day (or were entertaining guests), I think Restaurant Bar 1650 would’ve given a more elegant experience.

In the restaurant, we were giving a choice from the a la carte menu, a Christmas menu, and a smaller classics menu with pub favourites on it. I opted to order from the a la carte menu, although my husband, fancying a heartier meal, ordered a main from the classics menu.

RELATED ARTICLE  Roundup: 5 pub reopenings across London

The starters

The first starter, mine, was a delicious Asian crispy duck salad with a mango, chilli, coriander and hoi-sin dressing (£11) which looked and tasted incredible. This was also available as a main, for those who fancy a light but satisfying dish.

Image credit: Adam Lowe

My husband had the very tantalising crispy brie fritters in a sage & onion crumb (£9). These were served with baby watercress and Victoria plum compote, which provided a fruity, slightly tangy accompaniment to the creaminess of the brie. This wasn’t a small portion, either! A great option.

Image credit: Adam Lowe

The mains

My main was a saddle of venison, served with sweet and sour red cabbage, gran dauphinoise potatoes, honey parsnips, and a thyme jus (£24). The venison was flavoursome, though a little more well done than I’d have liked. A bit more pink, and it would have been a must-have, though it was still very tasty, either way. The portion was a great size if you’re having a starter or dessert, though you may want one more side if you’re a big eater and are just having the one course.

My husband followed his brie with the gourmet pie of the day (£17.50), which in this case was lamb and mint. It came with seasonal vegetables, creamed mash, and a tasty red wine gravy. It was another hefty portion. The meat was incredibly tender and the mint added a nice zing, making the whole thing moist enough to match the flakiness of the pastry perfectly.

The bar restaurant also had a small range of beers on tap and a fine wine selection, meaning there’s bound to be a good drink to pair with your food.

RELATED ARTICLE  5 Suprising Lake District Escapes

The verdict

All in all, Ye Olde Bell’s St Leger Bistro-by-the-Bar delivered on the standard established by the on-site spa. We were thrilled to be able to try the food out and it comes highly recommended.

More information


Check out our review of the hotel itself.


Check out our spa review for the downlow on the treatments and facilities available, as well as the spa’s Herb Garden Brasserie. Note that spa guests should book their lunch before 11am to ensure they can dine in the brasserie.


Ye Olde Bell, Barnby Moor, Retford, DN22 8QS / 01777 705121 / /

Check out our spa review for more information about the treatments and facilities on offer.

Check out our restaurant review for more information about the rooms.

About Adam Lowe

Adam Lowe is an award-winning author, editor and publisher from Leeds, now based in Manchester. He runs Dog Horn Publishing and is Director and Writing Coordinator for Young Enigma, a writer development programme for LGBT young people. He sometimes performs as Beyonce Holes.