Saturday, 15 September 2012

Hearth of the Ram, Ramsbottom

Hearth of the Ram Ramsbottom
We are regular visitors of Ramsbottom. For such a small village, it has a wealth of amazing eateries within a short distance of the centre. The Fisherman's Retreat, Sanminis, Ramsons and the Chocolate Cafe are all fantastic places to go and spend an afternoon. However, we decided to treat ourselves to a nice meal out after our last working day before our holidays.

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.
Hearth of the Ram Ramsbottom
Hearth of the Ram Ramsbottom
Hearth of the Ram Ramsbottom
For our mains, my husband picked the rump of lamb with creamed potatoes from the Dinner Menu, and I had the burger from the Simple Things Done Well menu. We also got a side of triple cooked chunky chips; purely for the purposes of testing...

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...
Hearth of the Ram Ramsbottom
Hearth of the Ram Ramsbottom
Hearth of the Ram Ramsbottom

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.

Hearth of the Ram Ramsbottom
The dessert menu seemed much smaller than the one I had read on the a la carte menu online, so I was  a little disappointed that I couldn't sample their lemon meringue. I was also hoping to see some winter warmer type things, but alas no. Desserts swing more to the fine dining side of the menu. We ordered the Bramley apple tart with vanilla ice cream. We decided to share it because nothing really caught my eye. It was really cold outside so I was craving something warm and most of the desserts seemed to be served cold.

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.
Hearth of the Ram Ramsbottom
We'll definitely be going back to Hearth of the Ram. We were made to feel really welcome by everyone we came in contact with and the food was well executed. I think they need to maybe expand their simple menu and save the fine dining dishes to a specials menu which can be updated daily. This would allow choice whilst expanding what they do best. I'm really looking forward to trying their food in the middle of winter, and have fingers crossed for homely desserts...

For more details about the restaurant, please visit their website, their Facebook page and follow the on Twitter @HearthoftheRam.
Hearth of the Ram on Urbanspoon


  1. Another great write up!

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