Review: The Brewers Arms, Rattlesden - 'Suffolk's newest culinary gem. A must visit!'
Mark Heath and his wife Liz visited the recently re-opened Brewers Arms in Rattlesden, which is attracting some great reviews, for a Saturday night dinner to see if the hype is justified. It is!
Not too long ago, The Brewers Arms stood empty and unloved. We’d visited it a couple of times in its former life, but it was obvious the writing was on the wall.
Indeed, the last time we went, we were greeted with the staff smoking outside the front door, and – when they finally deigned to come inside and serve us – we were told that none of the beers were available. We left, vowing never to return.
Until now, that is. The Brewers was bought by Rattlesden villagers, keen to ensure another rural pub wasn’t lost. They gave it a facelift inside and out, and re-opened it in October last year.
Now, with head chef Dan Russell at the helm, the new-look Brewers is quickly attracting attention for the right reasons.
So how did we find it? Well, when we visited on a Saturday night for an early dinner, it was immediately clear upon walking through the doors that things have changed beyond recognition.
Stylish and welcoming inside, we were seated in the bar as we had faithful hound Benson in tow – dogs aren’t allowed in the restaraunt area, which is fair enough.
Currently in the midst of Dryanuary, I ordered an Adnams Ghost Ship 0%, while my better half went for a Bitberger Drive - so far as non-alcoholic options go, these are certainly two of the best.
There was, I noted with an envious and thirsty eye, a good range of full fat lagers and ales on tap, plus a fine wine list. Next time!
And so to business. For starters, I plumped for the mackerel pate, while Liz ordered the soup of the day, in this case roasted tomato.
When my pate arrived, it was obvious that the Brewers are taking aim at the top end of the gastro pub market. Beautifully presented on fresh focaccia, with sliced fennel and grapes, this was a tremendous-looking dish.
It ate very well too. The pate was plentiful, nicely smoked – without being overpowering – and creamy, with the fennel and the very thinly sliced grapes adding freshness and sweetness to matters, respectively. The bread on which the pate sat, meanwhile, was soft and clearly fresh. Portion size too, was perfect - the last thing you need as a starter is a great chunk of bread and lashings of pate. We were aiming for three courses, after all!
Across the table, Liz’s soup was the perfect winter warmer for a cold January night. Nicely presented in a rustic bowl with two slices of bread served alongside, it both looked and smelt hugely appetising. On tasting, it didn’t disappoint, offering a delicious depth of flavour and just the right texture. Again, the portion size was also spot on – enough to satisfy but not too much to fill you up.
With our starters finished, and Benson desperately trying to attract the attention of the super dog-friendly staff, we awaited our mains with some degree of anticipation after the quality of the starters.
Good lord, were we not disappointed! My Pork Wellington, served with two parmesan and sage croquettes, textures of beetroot and a jus, was sensational. Presentation-wise, it was just plain sexy. Eating-wise, it was close to perfect. The pork just melted in the mouth, and was wrapped in thin and crispy pastry with a tasty mushroom paste, while the croquettes added crunch and a welcome savoury touch. The beetroot too, was perfectly judged, bringing an earthiness and freshness to proceedings.
I’ve enjoyed lamb at Le Gavroche, beef at The Savoy and pork at Claridge’s, and this was right up there with any of them in terms of quality. Simply one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Outstanding.
Liz, who managed to steal a couple of slices of pork from my plate, also enjoyed her main - beef short rib, served with black garlic, charred onion and braised chicory.
Tender and flavoursome, the meat fell apart under the fork, while the onion and chicory added both a contrasting texture and flavour to balance the richness of the meat
It was also surprisingly filling, leaving her pleased she had not ordered a potato or vegetable side as it meant she still had room for dessert!
With two pretty much perfect courses in the books, we perused the dessert menu. I went for the 70% chocolate ganache, served with compressed apple and pear, chocolate crumble and cinammon ice cream, while Liz smiled broadly as she requested the sticky toffee pudding, served with maple and walnut ice cream.
The ganache was small but potent – very rich and indulgent, complemented adroitly by the sweetness and sharpness of the fruit, plus the delicious ice cream. The roll of marbled chocolate on top was an added bonus too!
As for Liz, with sticky toffee pudding being her all-time favourite dessert, she had high expectations. They were certainly met, with the shards of meringue which accompanied the dish proving a hit in terms of texture.
And thus our meal was complete – certainly one of the best we’ve had in Suffolk.
It’s worth noting that, alongside the likes of the ‘foodie’ mains like my Wellington, the Brewers also offers a cheaper and simpler selection of pub classics.
Beer-battered haddock, a homemade burger, 10oz rump steak and a roasted butternut squash risotto were all on the menu when we visited – and I imagine all would be perfect if you’re in the mood for comfort food.
I make a point of asking where restaurants source their various ingredients, because I’m just that irritating.
You’d be surprised at the amount of blank looks I get too. Thankfully, not here - I was pleased to hear that they get the majority of their meat from Lavenham Butchers, and that perfect pork from the highly-rated Thurston Butchers.
A vital part of your dining experience, and the thing that sets the elite apart from the merely good.
The Brewers staff were all friendly, welcoming and knowledgeable – and score extra points for fussing Benson.
The one potential issue. There’s a very small – four or five spaces – parking area next to the pub, and a few more places on the opposite side of the road further down.
But as The Brewers gets more and more popular, as I’m sure it will, parking could become a problem.
Towards the higher end for pub food – but then this isn’t your traditional pub food.
My Pork Wellington was £18.95, and I would happily pay £25 to eat it again!
Have I mentioned the Pork Wellington? I had a Pork Wellington. It was sublime.
Liz would say her sticky toffee pudding was the standout – high praise indeed for someone who orders that every time it’s on any menu, anywhere.
Suffolk’s newest culinary gem. A must visit!