Thursday, 4 March 2010

The Ram, Firle

I’m a sucker for a good country pub and The Ram in Firle, Sussex, is quintessentially English, rustic, cosy, and all other things a country pub should be. I was lucky enough to be treated to a mystery visit there from Mr. Kitten Kitchen for Valentine’s Day. The taxi ride there took us through plenty of winding roads and I was very pleasantly surprised when we pulled up outside. I knew I was in for a relaxed, gastronomic treat.

The pub itself boasts log fires in every room, dark wood, beams and low ceilings to provide extra snuggliness for winter evenings. If there wasn’t a smoking ban, this would be the kind of place to enjoy a pipe. Dinner was a set menu affair owing to the amorous occasion and we spent slightly more than expected to, but the meal was worth every penny. Locally sourced produce is the name of the game at The Ram and, in my opinion, that’s what makes the difference between good and great food. Each mouthful positively screamed freshness.

I started with an ever popular dish of fat scallops. Little caper berries and raisins dotted the plate, which gave an unexpected but not unwelcome bite to the overall flavour. The main course was astonishingly good; a very generous portion of lamb shanks accompanied by mash and a mini shepherd’s pie. The shanks were cooked to perfection and the mini pie meat was a sort of slow-roasted affair, formed into a thick gravy laden disc, topped with creamy potatoes. For dessert we shared a selection of puddings: a gorgeously sweet sticky toffee pudding, a nutty and moist chocolate brownie, and a citrusy orange crème brûlée. The whole meal was accompanied by a deep Shiraz, starting tartly on the tongue, but quickly rounding to a smooth finish.

I’d certainly visit The Ram again, and intend to plenty of times in the summer months to enjoy their orchard and gardens. I can hear the cider and sunshine soaked grass calling me already...