The Bell at Ramsbury is another favourite haunt that we haven’t visited for a while. It has been a good quality gastropub for some time now so, we are heading there for lunch with high expectations of great food and decent beer.
The bar area is very busy when we arrive and, as we are not wanting the more formal atmosphere of the restaurant, we squeeze round a small table until something bigger becomes available. This gives us an opportunity to examine the menu and order some drinks.
Rock has an apple juice with soda while I have the Ramsbury Bitter. The Bell is part of the Ramsbury Estate which has its own brewery, distillery and smokehouse. The Ramsbury Brewery produces a range of real ales and I’m starting with the bitter. It is an amber ale made with barley and Golding hops and carries a decent amount of flavour.
Even though we were planning to have a relatively light lunch – I’m sufficiently excited about the starter menu to order the pan seared scallops with peas, parsley root purée, black pudding & ham crisp. Three beautifully cooked scallops duly arrive with a small peak of crushed peas, the interesting pale purée, scattered crumbs of black pudding and two crispy pieces of ham. Delightful.
I order a second beer – this time Ramsbury Gold – which I enjoy a lot more than the bitter. We then wait for quite a while, watching as other tables that ordered after us are served and wondering if our order has somehow fallen between the cracks. Eventually, Rock’s desire for some food has become unnerving and I go to the bar to find out what has happened. We receive apologies and, not too long after, our main courses.
Rock has chosen the small size Ramsbury Gold battered haddock with triple cooked chips, crushed peas and tartare sauce. The batter is fantastically light and flavoursome and the chunky chips are top quality. I’m having the Ramsbury smokehouse venison sausages with creamed mash, kale and a red wine gravy. The sausages are rich and meaty, the venison much more highly flavoured than pork or beef. It’s a glorious version of sausage and mash.
We order coffee and homemade salted caramel truffles which, because of the wait for our main courses, are taken off the bill. The truffles are excellent. Great food, lovely atmosphere and, as far as we are concerned, they rescued the tiny glitch in service.