Review: The Hadleigh Ram
- Credit: Archant
The newly opened Hadleigh Ram is found in a historic part of the town, just off the main shopping thoroughfare and beyond the market square, and minutes from buildings such as the Guildhall, Deanery Tower and St Mary’s Church.
There’s plenty of free car parking within walking distance and the scenic river and countryside walks are moments away.
The pub is owned by the Macmillan’s who also run The Long Melford Swan.
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The Hadleigh Ram will be unrecognisable to those who knew the former building well. The bar has been moved to allow free flow, and the pastel colour scheme and clever use of lighting have transformed what was quite a dark pub into an open, inviting space.
Local businesses such as Amor Interiors, Jim Lawrence and Bromley and Fitch have helped put a stamp on the interior, where finishing touches include beautiful tiling, ram, postcard and bookshelf wallpaper and stunning pendant lights.
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There are three dining spaces at The Hadleigh Ram including a glass fronted private dining room.
The menu at The Hadleigh Ram has been designed in a similar vein to The Swan, focusing on creating a journey of flavours and textures from the best seasonal ingredients.
Pressing of confit chicken, for example, is served with sweetcorn panna cotta, marjoram and sweetcorn salsa, crisp shallots and salted popcorn.
And free range pork belly is accompanied by crispy trotter, pickled apple, baby fennel, apple parsley gnocchi and star anise jus.
Great attention has been paid to ensuring each plate looks stunning and has components with different but complementary mouth feels – from soft to crunchy, salty to sweet.
After being presented with our drinks and a bottle of filtered water with a small bucket of ice (nice touch) we ordered and were offered a slab of wood bearing two miniature loaves of bread with butter and their own little cutting knives.
This offering is obviously way and above the chunk of baguette you get in some establishments and set a real tone for the rest of the evening - which was very busy for a Monday.
We began with smoked quail breast and confit leg croquette, Stornaway black pudding, dry sherry jus, watercress and chicory, and a plate of seared Scottish scallops with broccoli puree, pancetta crisp and summer truffle vinaigrette.
The quail breast had just a hint of smoke about it and was meltingly tender and cooked just so. Sticky, sweet and with a touch of saltiness from the black pudding crumbs, and bitterness from the chicory, it was a well-balanced plate.
Encased in a crisp crumb and yielding to reveal a melting savoury interior, the croquette was very well executed too.
The scallops were, again, cooked to perfection and paired beautifully with the smooth puree and shards of pancetta – a real classic done well.
For the main event there was local hogget of lamb with black garlic puree, caramelised Chantenay carrots, parmentier potatoes, radicchio and marjoram jus, and hake fillet, pan cooked and perched on a bed of cockles, nero linguine, wilted lettuce, peas, baby onions, brown shrimp and capers.
Hogget can be a tricky thing to get right. Older than lamb, it can err on the side of tough if not treated with precision. However, the hogget we tried was cooked just to our liking and the whole plate was seasoned well. Paired with the sweet carrots and puree, and with the added crunch from a potato here and there, we both declared the dish a plate licker.
Our hake was flaky and meaty with a pleasingly seared skin, the light Italian/French inspired vegetables and pasta in accompanying liquor was at once fresh and rich, infused with the essence of the sea – just the type of thing you could expect to find at a bistro on the Brittany shore.
While I’ve always got room for pudding, my dining partner had to be goaded into dessert – if only for my fork to wander onto her plate.
The Sicilian lemon tart burst forth with zingy, ripe, citrus flavour encased in a smooth custard, while the top was bruleed to bring in another textural element. Speckles of basil sugar added an interesting herbal note, while sharp raspberries and a white chocolate semi freddo rounded off the dish.
Our dark chocolate fondant was firm to the touch but collapsed satisfyingly into an oozing, decadent puddle once prodded with a fork. Bittersweet and oh so rich, it exemplified a good fondant and was ideally matched with a scoop of sweet strawberry ice cream and crumbs of chocolate ‘soil’. I didn’t care for the mint poached cherries or mint/cherry foam, though this didn’t detract from the yumminess of the dessert.
The wine list contains lots of good bottles and we thought the Pino Grigio was delightful – with hints of ripe grapefruit.
It was also refreshing to see soft drinks that included Belvoir ‘posh pop’, which are great alternatives to ‘draught’ lemonade for drivers or those looking for a refreshing non alcoholic drink.
A real gem for the town and a new destination for dining. It’s not the cheapest place to eat in the area, but it has location, service, food quality and ambience on its side.
Three courses for two people without drinks £59.85
The Hadleigh Ram, 5 Market Place, Hadleigh, IP7 5DL. 01473 822880. www.thehadleighram.co.uk