Samantha Mattocks enjoys the last of the Indian summer with lunch by the coast
Where did you go?
I went with my parents to The Bell, Walberswick on the Suffolk coast. It is a pub with B&B rooms, too. We always go there on New Year’s Day, so it was unusual to be there with hot weather and sunshine!
What’s the vibe?
This Adnams-owned pub is cool and laid back, with a smuggler’s hideaway feel to it. Inside, it is all snugs and hidden nooks and crannies as you walk through the maze of rooms. The flagstone floor and low ceilings all add to the charm and, now that summer is over, the fires are roaring in the hearth. Outside is an extensive beer garden – you can just glimpse the sea through the hedges. There are COVID-friendly huts for evening drinks, although you may want to bring your own blankets!
Who’s in the team?
This is a bright young team, all wearing Adnams branded facemasks and with great energy! The check in system is done with ease and safety, leaving guests fully aware of what is expected of them.
What do we need to know about the menu?
As you would expect being by the sea, fish features heavily on the menu. And expect proper pub-sized portions – you do not leave The Bell hungry!
What’s the price range?
Starters and sandwiches start at £6.50, mains from £13, and desserts from £5 for ice cream or £6.50 for something more decadent.
We shared our starters, which were generous in size. I can never resist a pint of shell on prawns – so typically British seaside – and they were fresh and full of flavour and the roasted garlic and lemon mayo complimented them well. My parents ordered the deep-fried whitebait with tartare sauce – a decent crunch to the coating and good-sized (headless) whitebait. The salads that came with both were fresh and tasty. I may have kept my bread back for a chip butty…
Both parents went for fish and chips with tartare sauce, peas and chips – plaice for my dad, and cod for mum. The fish was beautifully cooked, with crisp, non-greasy batter, and well-cooked chips, that were exceptionally good when placed inside some buttered bread… I went for the pan-fried tiger prawns with gnocchi, a hugely generous plate of food. This dish came with chorizo, spinach, sun-blushed tomatoes, basil pesto, and pine nuts and while it was full of flavour, I couldn’t quite manage it all.
All the usual classics are on there – sticky toffee pudding, blondies and cream, and cheesecake, but also a baked Alaska. We opted to share the blackberry and pistachio bread and butter pudding with cassis compote, honeycomb, and vanilla pod ice cream. The autumnal flavours made sure that this different approach to a classic British dessert was delicious.
What about dietary requirements?
There are a couple of vegan options on the menu as well as vegetarian. Gluten-free is also catered for.
Tell us about the drinks
Adnams own brands rule here – and rightly so! Dad enjoyed the Dry-Hopped beer (a light beer), mum had her favourite Habanero and Lime gin, while I plumped for the Sole Bay Sauvignon Blanc, made in Marlborough, New Zealand, for the Adnams label. There is a good range of drinks on offer, and at good pub prices, too.
Anything else we need to know?
The Bell is also a hotel with six bedrooms, so if you want an escape by the sea, this would be a perfect base.
Adnams tradition meets the Suffolk coastline – with flair, flavour, and a little bit of magic.