Perfect pub food with a side order of spooks


Jo Shone

With just a couple of days to go before halloween what better location for a spot of lunch than one of the most haunted hostelries in the area?

The Black Lion at Babell is a 13th century coaching inn where the spirits are not just found behind the bar.

There have been many unexplained sightings and strange happenings over the years, some with links to the composer Liszt who has a room at the inn dedicated to his memory, where legend says the panelling and wood carvings on the walls come from the composer’s home.

Then there are re-occurring reports of the eerie voice of a man with a Canadian accent pleading to come in.

Situated on Halkyn Mountain the views are amazing, but a blustery chill wind urged us indoors, where we were greeted by a blazing log fire.

There is a stylish restaurant upstairs, but as there was an empty table close to the fire, we chose to eat in the bar.

Mixing and matching between the full menu and the bar snacks fare, we agreed one of us would go for the starter and the other for the dessert while for a main we both were seduced by the prospect of homemade Black Lion burgers.

You could almost hear the caveman ‘grrr!’ in his voice as my companion ordered buffalo burger (reared not on the plains of North America but on a field in Cilcain, near Mold) while I opted for the more traditional Welsh beef variety, served with cheese and sauteed onions.

While we waited the caveman’s starter arrived.

Nothing namby-pamby about that dish either, with its crunchy twice roasted belly pork with cheese rarebit, all pivoted on a stack of homemade black pudding in a tangy sea of tomato ragu.

Once it had been demolished the burgers arrived in fresh sesame seed buns with side salads and bowls of hand-crafted chips. Absolutely indulgent, absolutely wicked and absolutely delicious.

Having foregone the starter it was my time to go solo as I browsed the dessert menu. It didn’t take long to spot Black Lion brownie sundae (back by public demand). Well if the public demanded who was I to cause dissent, and I have to say the public were right.

It was a delightful confection of chocolate and vanilla ice cream enveloping ample chunks of chewy, chocolate brownie cake, all topped with a sprinkling of nuts and cream.

Wonderful! Even the caveman was caving in to his fluffier inclinations by pretending he wasn’t stifling pudding envy as he read his newspaper with all the manly indifference he could muster.

He wasn’t fooling me or the waitress who acknowledged my ‘cat who’s got the cream’ look with a knowing smile.

She knew I’d made the right decision.

Soon it was time to leave that lovely fireside and brave the weather outside, but something tells me I’ll be back at The Black Lion, Babell, long before next halloween.

The bill

Twice roasted belly pork and handmade black pudding stack topped with cheese rarebit served in sweet and tangy tomato ragu £5.95

Cilcain buffalo burger with cheese served with salad, coleslaw and chips £7.95

Welsh beef burger with cheese and sauteed onions with salad, coleslaw and chips £7.95

Black Lion chocolate brownie sundae £5.25

Read more reviews at

See full story in the Chester Leader

Leave your comment

Share your opinions on

Characters left: 1500

Most Read