DINING REVIEW – Ramsholt Arms
Food for the Soul
Lesley Rawlinson discovers the new spring menu on offer at the Ramsholt Arms
Standing on the banks of the Deben, soaking up the late winter sunshine it’s the sort of day when spring feels like it’s waiting just around the corner. Storm Ciara is forecast to hit hard overnight but, for now, all is calm and the river is glistening. It’s a bit early for much activity on the water but dog walkers are out in force and the Ramsholt Arms is bustling.
The pub was reopened in June 2013 by the same family behind the highly recommended Ufford Crown just fifteen minutes down the road. In the winter it can feel remote, so much so that opening hours are limited to weekends, but with the change of season the hours increase and visitors are encouraged to keep an eye on the website and social media for up to date opening times. “We also have a sign down by the main turning to ensure people know whether we’re open – saves having to drive or cycle the last stretch on the off chance” says proprietor Polly Durrant “It’s a helpful addition, especially at this time of year”.
And regardless of the weather outside the cosy interior, complete with wood-burning stove, is always inviting. The huge picture windows mean river views are afforded throughout but we were lucky to bag a table with a stunning, uninterrupted outlook. It’s like food for the soul; to be absorbed and enjoyed – we really are incredibly lucky to have this spectacular landscape on our doorsteps.
New Head Chef, Kevin Attwood, assisted by Junior Sous Chef Daisy Sayward, has put together a classic pub menu, perfect for the venue. With additional dishes on the ‘specials’ board, sandwiches and a kids menu it’s pretty comprehensive. I’d have been disappointed not to find fish & chips and a good burger on the list but it wasn’t entirely predictable.
Starters included tomato soup, deep fried whitebait and a chicken liver pate that had been so popular that day that it had already sold out. My friend, Mrs H, had spotted the rather intriguing sounding Tandoori lamb cutlets with mint riata. Served on a slate with a fresh, crunchy salad the flavours were simply sensational - the charred exterior and perfectly cooked meat within a great balance.
I chose the salt and pepper squid to start. I really enjoy squid but there’s always the fear that it might be rubbery. Not here though – soft, battered and well-seasoned with a sweet chilli dip; things had started well.
My main course was from the specials board – open fish pie with salmon, smoked haddock and prawns served with green beans and mash. Wow, this did not disappoint; the subtle flavours of the fish, enhanced in a butter sauce with creamy mashed potatoes…. what’s not to love? It was the sort of dish I would happily order again and again; delicious, comforting and generous.
Across the table there was a little indecision. Local ham steak with brace of eggs, chips and salad was tempting. Smoked chicken salad might have won on a warmer day but in the end field mushroom burger with blue cheese, onion marmalade, fries and slaw was chosen.
This was another substantial plate and a tasty twist on the ‘vegetarian burger’. The enormous mushroom was a hearty choice, so much so that only half of its brioche bun was consumed. There was a wonderfully sticky, caramelised onion marmalade plus a further zingy tomato-based relish; both well-chosen companions along with chunky homemade coleslaw.
We were well and truly full. The strong winter sun through the window was having a soporific effect and so as our cheeks glowed we decided on coffee rather than dessert. Passing up on Guinness sticky toffee pudding or lemon and ginger treacle tart (to name but two of the tempting choices) wasn’t easy but they’d have to wait for another day.
As the days draw out I know I’ll be heading back to Ramsholt. We’ve already mapped two Pub Walks with Darcy there and with dogs welcome in the bar it’s an obvious destination for anyone looking to enjoy fresh air and stunning views.