Review: What’s it like at The Gin Trap?
The Gin Trap at Ringstead doesn’t just offer one of Norfolk’s best selections of the current tipple du jour, it serves great food too
In a little quiet village, surrounded by fields just a stones throw from the beach, is The Gin Trap Inn. Cropping up rather unexpectedly as you round the corner, this former 17th century coaching inn in Ringstead has become a destination for gin connoisseurs, normally seen frequenting trendy, hipster city bars.
But of course, people are not just heading to this little corner of remote Norfolk for a drop of the good stuff – however fashionable the tipple may be. Since taking over in 2015, the owners of The Gin Trap have focused on food, creating a new menu, combining a hint of fine dining and plenty of exciting flavours with some hardy British classics.
Historically known as the Compasses Inn, it was renamed The Gin Trap Inn in 1973 when the owners adorned the walls and ceilings with animal traps known as ‘gin traps’. While they have been removed, the influence of their name remains – with the bar stocking more than 130 gins, with gin tasting boards for guests to sample. But back to the food.
On an autumnal Sunday lunchtime the cosy pub was bustling with guests. Huge goldfish bowl glasses of gin featuring all manner of different fruits and concoctions adorned tables as people tucked into fabulous-looking roast dinners.
With two ravenous boys in tow, attention quickly turned to the menu. Starters were ordered – home-made house spiced tortilla chips, queso, pico de gallo, coriander, and jalapenos for the boys to share while we went for the bhaji Scotch egg wrapped in spiced onion and Dingley Dell pork and crispy cumin batter, with naughty sheep mango chutney, and Baron Bigod cheese. The Scotch egg was as good as it sounds. The yolk slightly runny, the batter moreish, crispy and with a hint of spice which didn’t overpower the dish. The huge piece of fried, crumbed creamy Baron Bigod, one of Norfolk’s finest, was gooey and hearty – though it could have done with a cracker or piece of bread – not that stopped it being swiftly demolished.
Usually, there are a couple of things on the menu which leave you torn. It’s fair to say that having to pick something on The Gin Trap menu left me wishing I could try a little bit of everything, from the buttermilk fried chicken tacos with smoked sweetcorn salsa to the pressed slow roasted lamb shoulder with tahini roasted aubergine and minted giant couscous.
For my husband the roast pork was too good to ignore. The Yorkshire pudding was an event in itself, the pork was melt-in-the mouth with crispy crackling and the roast potatoes, often a disappointment at lesser establishments, were plentiful and had a suitable crunch.
I went for a slightly less traditional Sunday lunch with the balti lamb pie with saag aloo. What a treat; the warm spices of the tender lamb combined wonderfully with the crisp pastry and the potatoes in the saag aloo were lightly roasted so didn’t go mushy in the curry.
It’s not all fancy fare; there are plenty of reasonably-priced pub favourites on the menu, from ham, egg and chips,
“The Scotch egg was as good as it sounds. The yolk slightly runny, the batter moreish, crispy and with a hint of spice”
delicious-sounding burgers, good vegetarian options and the IPA battered fish and chips which is what my two hungry boys went for. They were not disappointed by the enormous pieces of fish, proper chip shop-style chips and generous helping of home-made tartar sauce – no mean feat.
Even though we were full to the brim, our eyes were caught by the unbelievable-looking desserts arriving on the next table, so despite our protestations that we didn’t need any pudding, the minute the dessert menu arrived we pounced.
The lemon meringue cheesecake was a work of art, with elderflower running through it, a generous helping of lemon curd on the side, topped with a meringue with a hint of lime. Stealing the show was the gin and tonic sorbet – which actually packed a proper alcoholic punch.
The cookies and cream - a pan-baked milk chocolate chip cookie cooked to order, served with vanilla ice cream and salted chocolate sauce – was a dessert lover’s heaven. Served in its pan, warm and gooey, it was a little sweet for me but was virtually inhaled by my youngest son who claimed he could eat another one.
The Gin Trap has created a really well-priced menu with wide appeal and plenty of knowledgeable nods to seasonal, local produce.
Service, while friendly and polite, was a little on the slow side. Mind you, with the size of the portions, perhaps those gaps in courses weren’t such a bad thing!
Our review visits are unannounced and we pay for our meals.
ABOVE:The Gin Trap Inn at Ringstead
BELOW:The roast Sunday lunch was a treat