We had seen Hearth of the Ram taking shape whilst the restaurant was renovated a few months ago. Outside was beginning to look a little like an old favourite, The Clog and Billycock in Pleasington. Its name popped up at cake club and last week when asking Twitter for lunch ideas. It was playing on my mind...
We had a ganders at their website to see if it looked any cop, and then my husband saw two words which make him as giddy as a little kipper; scotch egg. A little like his obsession with Welsh rarebit, he has to sample the 'delicacy' if it appears on any menu. Once again, he holds one particular egg in high regard; that fashioned by Heston's own Hind's Head pub in Bray. When we got there we also spied the rarebit... this had escaped our viewing from home because the words 'scotch' and 'egg' had proved a little too much...
We arrived ridiculously early for our booking. I had hugely overcompensated (as per usual) for the Rammy Festival being on. I was convinced we would be snarled up in a horrific line of restaurant-kiboshing traffic. Not the case. In fact I have never seen Ramsbottom so quiet! Everyone was on foot. It didn't matter that we were early either. We were welcomed by a friendly chap who had more than a passing resemblance to Frankie Boyle who showed us to a comfy table by a window. People-watching paradise.
The scotch egg and Welsh rarebit come from the Simple Things Done Well menu. These two are bitesized items which work well as a side or smaller starter. Saying that, if I had eaten all that rarebit to myself you would have had to roll me home! Both dishes were superb. Worth going back for these alone! These are proper bar snacks; rustic and homely but packed with flavour.
I quite like this approach. When I go somewhere that loosely fits int he 'gastropub' category I ask myself 'would my dad like it?'. Yes, John would bloody love this. He could happily stick to the Simple menu whilst the slightly more adventurous can pick from the Dinner menu. This leans more to the refined side. There is talk of puree, veloute and jus for God's sake...
Although we had dishes from opposite ends of the menu spectrum, we were both impressed with the presentation and flavours. The mint on the lamb was beautifully subtle and the meat was soft and tender. The burger was cooked pink with a slab of good quality cheese. The only thing I would change here was the relish. It contained star anise which seemed to overpower the taste of the tomato. Perhaps a little too fragrant for this dish.
The fennel slaw was fresh and tangy and a nice variation on a theme. Portion sizes were good too. Although we both felt well fed, neither of us had that 'I'm so full I might want to cry/sleep/die' feeling. That was nice.
I was quite excited to see the dessert menu for two reasons. Firstly we had loved everything set in front of us so far, so things were looking promising. Secondly, this is the mantra on their menus... I like these people.
I was pleasantly surprised by this little number. Served more like a vanilla slice, the 'tart' was filled with creme patisserie and apples. It was beautiful. Really light and sweet with a tangy apple jelly. It's just a pity Summer buggered off as this would be perfect served with a little sunshine. It would be my personal preference to remove the popping candy from the ice-cream. I think this fad has probably died a death and it masked the taste of the ice cream a little.
For more details about the restaurant, please visit their website www.hearthoftheram.com, their Facebook page and follow the on Twitter @HearthoftheRam.