26th September 2019

The Engine Yard at Belvoir Castle showcases the original 1800s workshops, which have now been fully restored to create a retail village, restaurant and bar.  Situated opposite the main entrance to Belvoir Castle and open 7 days a week, the Engine Yard offers an interesting range of retail and dining outlets.

Our visit today was to sample the experience at The Fuel Tank and Balloon Bar. The Fuel Tank Restaurant offers an all-round mix of dining options, from breakfast muffins, sandwiches and salads, afternoon tea and dinner, as well as Sunday Roasts and a children’s menu.  I was excited to be returning to Belvoir Castle after a length hiatus, caused by nothing more than apathy,  and the addition of The Engine Yard certainly piqued my interest – anyone who knows me will appreciate how much I love eating, drinking and shopping.

It took us about 40 minutes to get from Nottingham to Belvoir Castle, where there is plenty of free parking adjacent to The Engine Yard.  The restoration is, without doubt beautiful and, unlike the balloons safely tethered in the bar area, we were blown away by the obvious care and thought that had gone into it. 

We headed into the Fuel Tank restaurant, which was busy and bustling downstairs, with a woody, cosy interior and its serving area stacked with tempting cakes.  We were met by the lovely Vicky, who escorted us upstairs to another dining area, which was bright and airy, with a modern but comfortable feel. Quite frankly, the Duchess of Rutland who designed and conceived the restaurant should be rightly proud of the end result and the incredible job she has done of converting traditional buildings into modern marvels, without losing any of the charm.  Hugh windows at either end frame the Belvoir countryside and the outdoors is brought inside with a plethora of well-placed potted plants and lighting.

Photo credit: The Fuel Tank

Along with a ‘Specials Board’ the Fuel Tank has a concise menu with Light Bites, Sandwiches, Salad and Breakfast (the latter served from 9am to 12 noon Monday to Friday and until 11 am on Sundays).  The food is freshly prepared and there are plenty of healthy and veggie options. 

Ordering is done at the serving area downstairs and we opted for the Steak and Ale pie, served with mash and peas (£14.95) and Fishcakes served with chips, salad and tartare sauce (£13.95).  It’s not often you can say that something is pretty close to perfection but, in this case, the pie was a pure delight.  Melt in the mouth pastry surrounded a mountain of steak and kidneys and the separate jug of gravy was a nice additional thought if you like to soak the mash and peas.  The 2 fishcakes were huge, tasty and packed with salmon flakes and potato and the chips served in a separate pot certainly tasted homemade.  The portions are sizeable and, unfortunately, we just didn’t have the room for dessert but I’ll certainly be back to try out the pudding options, which include Sticky Toffee Pudding on the menu.

The Fuel Tank is the sort of restaurant that you could easily while away an afternoon with a nice drink, either inside or on the outdoor terrace but we had the Balloon Bar to try out. 

The Balloon Bar can be found directly underneath the Fuel Tank, with a fabulous entrance way that feels like you are walking into Wonderland.  Once inside, the magic continues with a cosy, underground snug, with hot air balloon models hanging from the ceiling and the perfect mix of colour and lights to produce a warm and welcoming area, with a beautiful bar.  We were met by Bar Manager, Gary Booty, who was friendly, enthusiastic and obviously delighted to be in charge of such a charming venue, who took the time to find out our taste preferences and suggested a couple of gin cocktails, which were superbly made by Barman Jack. 

The Balloon Bar is open daily and serves a tapas menu between 6pm and 9pm Thursday to Saturday, with options which include a sharing board of hummus and ciabatta (£12.50), as well as meatballs, buttermilk chicken with chipotle dip and squid with garlic mayo (3 for £15 or £6.50 each).

The cocktail menu offers some interesting themed cocktails, including The Duchess’ Garden and the very apt Up, Up and Away and there are regular live music events throughout the year, as well as special events which, so far this year, have included the Alice in Wonderland Tea Party.

Another massive bonus for dog lovers like me is that fact that our canine friends are welcome in both the restaurant and the Balloon Bar, pushing The Engine Yard even further to the top of my list of favourite places to visit within easy reach of Nottinghamshire. 

Unfortunately, we didn’t leave enough time to explore all of the shops in The Engine Yard but it definitely gives us the excuse for a return visit soon.  If you are going to go, please leave yourself plenty of time to explore and relax, eat and drink and give this beautiful venue the time it richly deserves.

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Entrance to The Balloon Bar The Balloon Bar The Balloon Bar


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The Fuel Tank Beef and Ale Pie Fishcakes


If you'd like to know more about The Engine Yard, Fuel Tank and the Balloon Bar, including menus and opening times, please visit the website here.

(Thanks to today's review buddy Nicola for the photos).

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