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

Norfolk - - INSIDE - WORDS: Rachel Buller

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

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