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The Bell Hotel in Clare, Restaurant Review

Author: Published: 27th December 2016 14:02

 Ultimate Bell Tower burger

The Bell Hotel in Clare, Restaurant Review

Awash with listed buildings and a rich history that boasts Romans, Normans and a mention in the Doomsday Book, Clare, today, is one of Suffolk’s loveliest yet unfussiest small towns.

There’s been a pub on the site of The Bell Hotel - http://thebellhotelclare.com - for several centuries. Its frontage on to the old market square, complete with flowering hanging baskets, is quintessentially pub pretty. The Bell’s current owners, Tom and Becky, took over in February 2016 and have an admirable yet simple ambition to make The Bell “just a really good pub”. And the menu is as uncomplicated as the owners’ aspirations.

Starters (mostly around £5) include chicken goujons and nachos alongside whitebait and pigeon breast. The main courses list around a dozen perennial pub favourites (£10 - £12) – such as steak, beer battered haddock, scampi, gammon and chilli con carne – but the house speciality is burgers. All of these are served in a brioche bun with red cabbage coleslaw, beer battered onion rings, hand cut chips and a smattering of salad. There’s a fairly extensive choice too with a veggie option, pork and chorizo and Cajun chicken varieties on offer alongside the classic beefsteak burger.

I confess I was beaten by the Ultimate Bell Tower burger which may well be the biggest burger served this side of the Atlantic and must give the serving staff nightmares because of its Jenga-like qualities. It was good (Tom sources his meat, fish, fruit and veg from Suffolk and Essex) and, frankly, enormous. Tom and Becky really should hand out medals to those rapacious souls who can see off the Ultimate Bell Tower Burger.

The Club Sandwich, invariably a barometer of good pub grub, was generous and tasty and the sirloin steak was tender and enhanced by home made peppercorn sauce.

The choice of puddings featured many old classics and the Eton Mess was, after my Ultimate Bell Tower burger concession, mercifully light and refreshingly featured three types of berries.

The Bell has 15 rooms and the occupancy rates are very healthy as residents take in the myriad things to do in the area. It’s early days for Tom and Becky but The Bell has a happy and positive feel to it, delivering their ambition to be “just a really good pub” and, like Clare itself, lovely but unfussy.

01787 277741





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