The holder of a Michelin Bib Gourmand (which recognises places where you can eat three courses for £28 or less) and an entry on the 2014 Good Food Guide, the Hearth of the Ram has, for some time, been one of the places high on my list of the “best ‘gastropubs’ within an hour’s drive of Manchester.”
What Michelin say: ‘Rustic former pub with characterful original features, a friendly team and a laid-back feel. The experienced chef offers a good value menu - choose from enticing pies and platters during the day and more sophisticated dishes in the evening. Cooking is classically based but has a light, modern touch.’
What we ate:
Lancashire Rarebit with Sourdough Soldiers – a mainstay on the menu. What I liked about this was the fact that the cheesy rarebit ‘sauce’ stayed hotter than it would have done if it had been spread on the toasts. The dipping of soldiers also appealed to the child in me.
Hearth of the Ram Scotch Egg – fun presentation and perfectly cooked (see below on my ‘Food high points’)
Half Pint of Prawns, Lime & Chive Mayonnaise – my wife will invariably order these when she sees them on the menu but we both agree, they ‘taste better’ from a dimpled mug.
Slow Cooked Rump of Lamb, Creamy Mash, Kale, Squash, Redcurrant & Mint Jus – my wife’s choice: sublime lamb; good mash; lovely veggies but a too sweet jus for my taste.
Roast Sirloin of Beef, Yorkshire Pudding, Roast Potatoes, Roast Root Vegetables, Veal Jus – I’ve just been saying how I rarely order a roast when out unless I have reason to believe it will be very good. This was indeed, very good. The Triple Cooked Chips were spot on and served as supplement roasties.
Although, at home I would have had more (and better) roasties and gravy, but my beef would not have been as good AND I would have to had to have washed up!
Christmas Panna Cotta, Ginger Crisps, Rum & Raisin Ice Cream – when my wife said the Panna Cotta tasted of candles, I thought she wasn’t happy… it turned out that what she meant was the flavours had that Christmassy essence – she was happy!
Rhubarb & Ginger Crumble – the crumble should come with a White Chocolate Ice Cream, although I asked for it to be served with a Rhubarb Sorbet. The white chocolate would have been sweeter to temper the sharpness of the fruit but I enjoyed the face twisting effect of sharp rhubarb on rhubarb.
Food high points: we found most of the food to be of a very high standard – on an exceptional level: the Scotch Egg, Lamb Rump and Triple Cooked Chips stood out.
Food low points: now low points per se, just a couple of minor niggles: the Lime & Chive Mayonnaise could have had a
little lot more zing (and a finger bowl); I
found the Redcurrant & Mint Jus too sweet for my taste and the Panna Cotta
was a little heavily set.
Décor / ambience: a lovely place in the delightful town of Ramsbottom. I loved the mixture of old and new in the pub’s refurb.
Service: we found it swift, efficient and friendly, yet unobtrusive – aka perfect!
Verdict (Would I return?): most definitely. We must get around to spending a full day out in Ramsbottom with a ride on the East Lancs Steam Trains.