Somehow The Flame had bagged herself a week with the girls in Tenerife. This left yours truly all alone, cast adrift like a ‘Pop Idol’ winner. What should I do? The Cook Twit is a resourceful soul, off I went, armed with an iPhone and a natty man bag! The weather and public transport was kind and within the hour I found myself teleported into the gritty market town of Bury, home of the black pudding and the original Katsouris delicatessen. I grabbed a brace of said puddings (after several tasters) from Chadwick’s. My only gripe was not being able to stock up on the cracking seafood and fish on offer in the rather splendid food hall.
Next up a steam train ride up the Irwell Valley to Ramsbottom. Not before a well earned restorative at the The Trackside Pub on Bury Station. A light, pint of ‘Piston Broke’ oiled the pipes. As luck would have it The East Lancashire Railway was having a Thomas the Tank Engine weekend! This meant my short weave up the line was shared by several thousand screaming little people all painted up as lions!
Still, my ultimate quest was in sight. A short skip right from the station in Ramsbottom found me worshipping at the altar, hitherto known as the ‘Hearth of the Ram’. First impressions leading up were somewhat tainted as the former pub is adjoined to a highly branded dental surgery, still I managed to get a decent shot showing that the Ram itself also sports a modern logo which traces through the menus and website. I thought it looked quite smart and gave the impression that this was a serious set up looking to trade with up to date techniques whilst revitalising and maintaining a building from the past.
A veritable, phalanx of friendly and attentive staff sat me down and presented the rather smart menus. Oh yes and a pint of Timothy Taylor! One menu was entitled ‘Simple Things Done Well’, the other was the ‘a la carte’. As this was a Saturday afternoon I thought I’d give the a la carte a side swipe until another time. It did look good though, how about ‘poached smoked haddock, truffle cream, soft poached duck egg and black truffle’ to start (£8.95), or as a main ‘seared Goosnargh duck breast, potato fondant, beet root gel, kale with a ginger and orange sauce’ for £18.95?
I surveyed the decor whilst I waited for the first course. It seemed a little sparse if I’m honest, perhaps Euan and Dena are waiting to for a few more nick knacks from the past to build it up? But hey minor quibble, the wooden tables, stone floor, red leather banquettes made for a charming space. The room is dominated from my eye by the steely stairway which spirals it’s way from down below to way up high. Maybe in its industrial past it housed some sort of winch to haul wrought iron from the Irwell?
Anyway to the food! From the ‘Simple’ menu I started with Quail, Scotch Egg (£1.95). Heathens might suggest this was presented in an egg carton with some straw on a plank, but I would beg to differ. It was delivered on a batten of driftwood, nestling in a pocket of the softest raffia. I thought it was a delight. The egg itself was encased in soft, moist, peppery goodness. I ate it with my hands, it was gorgeous.
Next I plumbed in from the sea, I went for the Hearty Fish Pie (£8.95). Piped in its own ceramic cauldron, armed with a separate cup of samphire, green beans and buttery carrots, it once again kept well up with expectation. I could have chosen from other pub favourites such as the 28 day aged beef burger, or the steak and ale pie.
I then thought I would test the chef out. I had an awful Apple Tarte Tatin a few weeks back, but the ‘Hearth of the Ram’ turned up trumps this time. Theirs was just as the doctor ordered, ‘caramelly’ (is that a word? Ed), buttery and sweet (£5.95). I’m even sure there was some coriander in the garnish which added a twist. I wolfed it with a sweet wine.
I ventured out somewhat woozy from the wine and missed the train back to Bury. I managed to thumb a bus and was soon back in Manchester before heading off into the sticks. I had a thoroughly enjoyable day (even Utd won!) and can honestly say the ‘Hearth of the Ram’ is definitely a place I will go back to. I might even take ‘the flame’!
Hearth of the Ram
13 Peel Brow