a user-contributed guide to the best of suffolkA user-contributed guide to the best of Suffolka user-contributed guide to the best of suffolk Login

Ringing the Changes at The Six Bells

A crackling log fire was the first thing that caught my eye as we walked through the door to the Six Bells in Preston St Mary. This was followed by a big smile and warm welcome from the friendly waitress, who presented us with menus and showed us to our table which, happily, was right next to the fireplace. Very nice on a chilly evening and a good start to our first visit to this recently restored ‘gastro-pub’.

Six Bells Preston St Mary, Lavenham, Suffolk

Situated a few miles from Lavenham, the Grade II listed former brewery dates back to 1416 and its new owners, the London-based ETM group, have done a fine job of creating a truly relaxing environment. The lighting is subdued, candles bedeck the tables and as we settled down for our meal, any worries from the day swiftly melted away.

In keeping with its countryside location perhaps, plenty of taxidermy adorns the walls and the fox heads, hares and stuffed game birds hint at the largely meat-based menu on offer. This is a pub which prides itself in providing a changing menu with a strong emphasis on seasonal, local produce.

Six Bells Preston St Mary, Lavenham, Suffolk

Game and handmade sausages come from the butcher in Lavenham, fresh fish is caught off the East Anglian coast and there are plans for a self-supporting farm which will provide the pub with its own vegetables in the future.

At the time of our visit, pears and plums featured in a couple of dishes as well as locally shot game, autumn lamb and seasonal vegetables; squash, parsnips and buttered cabbage.

To start, we were offered some wholemeal soda bread made with seeds, honey and treacle. Soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside, it was quite unusual and very tasty.

Six Bells Preston St Mary, Lavenham, Suffolk

Next up was a starter of beetroot and pear salad with a gentle hint of Stinky Bishop cheese. This was delicately flavoured, refreshing and cleansed the palette nicely for the main event, which for me was haddock in the most delicate and crisp, melt-in-your-mouth Adnams ale batter; and for my husband, potato gnocchi, chestnut mushrooms, squash and a truffled cheddar sauce, which he described as: “Flavoursome and rich with a touch of earthiness.”

Both dishes were delicious and just the right size to leave room for dessert!

Six Bells Preston St Mary, Lavenham, Suffolk

I can’t normally cope with three courses, but the poached Preston St Mary pear with damson doughnut and rum-and-raisin ice cream sounded manageable and irresistible. And so it was. Delicate and sweet, the dough from the miniature doughnut offset the richness of the ice cream and the pear was soft in texture and subtle in flavour.

My husband chose a crème brulee which was sweet with a hint of toffee from the caramelised topping and the cream was pleasantly rich with a touch of vanilla. This came with a crunchy, hazelnut biscotti.

The textures and flavours in each of the dishes throughout our meal complemented each other perfectly and credit is due to John Tremayne, said to be one of the ETM Group’s most talented chefs, who has previously worked in London’s Michelin-starred bistro Arbutus in Soho.

Six Bells Preston St Mary, Lavenham, Suffolk

The Six Bells has an extensive wine list and, as you would expect from a former brewery, the choice of beer is taken very seriously. So seriously in fact, that regulars at the bar are asked to vote for which guest ales they would like to see on draught each month. Being part of the local community is important to co-owner Tom Martin: “The Six Bells will be very much a locals’ village pub serving both the nearby residents, week-enders from London and holidaymakers with quality food, drink and service as well as an ever-evolving roster of events.”

With their friendly service, delicious food and relaxing ambience, I should think this cosy village pub will be a firm favourite with both local residents and visitors alike. To find out more, visit www.thesixbellspreston.com

The Six Bells, The Street, Preston St Mary, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 9NG | T: 01787 247 440 | E: reservations@thesixbellspreston.com

Share Button

Written by Mark

Leave a Reply