Restaurant review, The Cretingham Bell: “If you’re in the mood for a roast, then you must book here”

Restaurant review: The Cretingham Bell. Roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and vegeta

Restaurant review: The Cretingham Bell. Roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and vegetables. Picture: Archant/Amy Gallivan - Credit: Archant

Amy Gallivan enjoys Sunday lunch in The Cretingham Bell’s pub garden with friends

Restaurant review: The Cretingham Bell. Roast lamb with roast potatoes and vegetables. Picture: Arch

Restaurant review: The Cretingham Bell. Roast lamb with roast potatoes and vegetables. Picture: Archant/Amy Gallivan - Credit: Archant

I haven’t gone out to enjoy a good Sunday roast in ages, particularly one during the summer months, so with this in mind, and after hearing The Bell in Cretingham was definitely a pub to go to for this type of dish, my partner Andrew and I chose to meet two friends and their toddler, one gloriously sunny afternoon late last month.

Upon arrival, the Suffolk pink pub was surrounded by luscious lawns and the flowers were in full bloom. In fact, it was such a beautiful day we decided instead to take a table outside where we could admire the idyllic village views and relax with our drinks before our friends arrived.

On the menu, you could opt for a starter, with dishes such as prawn cocktail and chicken liver pate on offer, but having already decided that we’d take on a roast; we thought we ought to save room.

I chose the roasted rump of lamb served with all the trimmings and lashings of mint sauce, whereas Andrew had selected the roast beef with Yorkshire puddings, duck fat potatoes and seasonal vegetables.

Restaurant review, The Cretingham Bell. Cauliflower cheese. Picture/Archant: Amy Gallivan

Restaurant review, The Cretingham Bell. Cauliflower cheese. Picture/Archant: Amy Gallivan - Credit: Archant

Our friend Chris had also made a punt for the beef but his wife Tess went for the wholetail scampi, served with salad and chips.

Although we arrived at noon, fully expecting a bit of a wait, we didn’t have to kill time for long as our piping hot meals turned up pretty quickly – there was even a bowl of creamy cauliflower cheese that came too – much to my delight!

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My lamb was juicy and tender with no dreaded fatty lumps in sight and Andrew and Chris’s beef was on the right side of medium to well done.

The roast potatoes were extremely crispy too and the vegetables still had that all-important bite. The cauliflower cheese was absolutely moreish. We hadn’t even ordered it as the side dish, it was part of the trimmings – how good is that?

Restaurant review: The Cretingham Bell. Vanilla panna cotta with berries. Picture: Archant/Amy Galli

Restaurant review: The Cretingham Bell. Vanilla panna cotta with berries. Picture: Archant/Amy Gallivan - Credit: Archant

After gorging on our roasts and with nothing left on our plates, we all jointly agreed to take a look at the pudding board.

Although being thoroughly spoilt for choice, I went for the chocolate brownie, which came with the option of custard, ice cream or cream. Our fellow diner Tess, who had journeyed up from London, commented that it had been quite a while since she’d been given the option between the three accompaniments.

Finally, Andrew chose the vanilla panna cotta with berries, and Chris went for the strawberry cheesecake.

Tess settled on the pear and chocolate pudding with oodles of custard.

Restaurant review: The Cretingham Bell. Chocolate brownie with ice cream. Picture: Archant/Amy Galli

Restaurant review: The Cretingham Bell. Chocolate brownie with ice cream. Picture: Archant/Amy Gallivan - Credit: Archant

Well, when my brownie arrived, my portion was huge and the sticky, dark sauce was deliciously indulgent.

I’d also opted for vanilla ice cream on the side as I just love that warm to cool sensation. Upon tasting a spoonful, I found the pud to be a cakey-brownie mix as the chocolate base was quite sponge-like, but on the other hand, it tasted rather like a brownie too – mmm delicious!

Just like our main courses, not a morsel was left in our pudding bowls and it only left me wondering what might be on offer during the week.

I’d certainly like to pay a visit during the winter months as the pub looked and felt ever so cosy inside.

Ambiance

As we sat outside in the pub’s garden, there was plenty of room to spread out our things and for a toddler to explore.

There was also a patio area where you could sit a little closer to the back door, rather than right on the grass like we did.

The garden was beautifully maintained and accompanied by the stunning late August sunshine, which made for a wonderful afternoon with friends.

Meanwhile, when I ventured inside briefly, there was plenty of space to dine, plus a bar and snug area too.

Location

The Bell is pretty easy to find as it’s not too far from Framlingham and some of the other neighbouring villages nearby.

Drink

You can expect to find a mix of local ales, fine wines, soft drinks and even champagne if you’d like to toast to a special occasion.

On the day, both Andrew and Chris opted for a pint of Adnams Ghost Ship, whereas Tess and I both enjoyed soft drinks.

Service

As it was the Sunday before the August Bank Holiday, the pub’s management had definitely prepared by making sure to have on a full team of staff who were all friendly and only too keen to make sure our experience was the best it could be.

Parking

There’s parking at the pub outside but you should arrive early if you want to park there on a busy Sunday afternoon.

Price

For two roast dinners, two puddings, one alcoholic drink and one soft drink, a bill for two came to £43.60.

Highlight

That cauliflower cheese – I could eat that now.

Summary

If you’re in the mood for a roast, then you must book here. The beautiful surroundings, the atmosphere and the quality of the food made our visit truly enjoyable and it’s certainly one of the highlights of dining experiences of the summer that’s for sure. For a small village pub, it definitely punches above its weight and with that in mind; I can now understand why so many people are raving about The Bell’s roasts.

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