Sunday, 4 January 2015
Ring of Bells / Taunton
Who are they?
The Ring of Bells is a Camra award-winning pub, based in the quiet back streets of Taunton, Somerset. A sort of "blink-and-you'll-miss-it" affair unless you are looking for it, this was the location for a family lunch that came highly recommended from a TripAdvisor search - along with their burger offering. As I don't get to go through Taunton that often, it would have been rude not to try this!
A quintessentially English establishment, with lots of vintage West Country signs and posters along each wall and decorated in the style of an old country pub, The Ring Of Bells is a warm and welcoming pub that no doubt gets busier in the evenings rather than the middle of the day when we had the chance to visit. Further to its culinary charms, the pub also boasts a great selection of local and guest ales, which made the wait for the food all the more pleasant by trying out a pint of the local best.
As you can see from the photo, the Bell Burger certainly does not scrimp on ingredients, with locally-sourced beef made into a very generously sized patty, with aged county cheddar, bacon and token offering of salad to keep it company between a lightly toasted bun. While the trend of having everything in a brioche bun has not yet reached this part of town, it was a pleasant change to enjoy a seeded bun instead and joined with a bowl of thick cut, triple cooked chips and home made coleslaw on a tray, I dug in.
Simply put, this burger is a meaty beast and goes down a right treat. The patty is expertly cooked to medium rare, ensuring that there is plenty of barely-cooked innards to go with the very juicy flavour of the outside with each bite. Meat-wise, the taste is well defined: a slightly gamey taste from the beef they had used with a very pronounced peppery flavour. This is quite different from the burgers I have had lately, but then again, this is partly to do with the venue itself. While others try to emulate the American style of adding flavour through a burger sauce, the Ring of Bells strives to make its mark by the choice of meat and spices added - reminiscent of the other burger I have had the pleasure of enjoying in Taunton. Speaking of local produce, the mature cheddar was an excellent addition (just as I have come to expect from the West Country) though there didn't seem to be an awful lot of it versus the size of the patty so that at times the cheese was lost to the flavour of the beef.
While I cannot make to many remarks about the coleslaw (something that is not really my thing), I can definitely recommend the triple-cooked chips, which come crispy and hot to the plate with lovely fluffy insides. Even the last one on my plate which had cooled retained a satisfyingly snappy crisp to it: this pub certainly knows what it is doing in providing very thick-cut potatoes to make these. I can imagine these being popular as a bar snack for ale drinkers as much as they are a side dish in the restaurant area. Top job!
While the peppery-flavour may not be completely up my street, the triple cooked chips and value for money here makes this a great spot if you ever find yourself in Taunton looking for a place to eat or for a slice of old-fashioned country pub drinking.
Note: Since eating at this establishment, I notice that the menu has changed to feature a confit of pulled pork alongside some Applewood smoked cheddar as well. If the meal I had is anything to go by, I think this new development deserves a repeat visit!
Where can I find them?