Given the giant silver flock wallpaper, huge mirrors and arty Scandiwegian lighting, you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd wandered into an upmarket London bar, so it's a surprise and a relief to find the prices comfortably within the average pub dining bracket (mains are all £5 - £10). The menu comprises trad. pub favourites (fish and chips, steaks, burgers, pasta, pizzas) and more exotic dishes (scallop feillentine, ham hock terrine, gnocchi, foie gras parfait) to lend that little bit of extra flair and style that turns a pub into into a gastropub. Service is excellent, the staff managing to be professional as well as friendly and attentive. As for the food: the goat's cheese salad (£4.50) was small, with the right combination of richness and tanginess not overpowered by too much dressing on the pleasantly herby, fresh salad. The pork belly was well cooked and flavoursome, though the mash could have had a little more character; the haddock fishcakes (£8.95 main, £5.50 starter) were generous and tasty and - whilst a little heavy on the dill for my own personal taste - certainly didn't skimp on meaty fish content. The Italian pinot grigio (£16.95) washed things down well, particularly complementing the unexpected jewel in the crown: the sticky toffee pudding (£4.95). What can often be like a small lead weight was in this instance a light, fluffy concoction with a tart edge provided by chunks of orange and offset by just enough vanilla ice cream. (We could have eaten one each, which is saying something.) The wine list is shortish but good, though the markup is clearly where the pub will be making most of its income (though who can blame them for that - they can't be making much on the insanely reasonably-priced food!).
This place appears to be doing everything right so far, even down to having a regular weekly quiz and a jazz night to get more bums on seats - which might go some way to creating the only thing that's (undeservedly) lacking: a lively atmosphere. Chances are high, though, that if the Black Boy continues to provide such decent grub at such good value, this peaceful window will be shortlived. You might be wise to get in there before it's so lively that you can't get a table.