The Ring of Bells is located just across the road from Taunton’s Brewhouse Theatre and a short walk from Somerset County Cricket Ground. Upon entering, my guest and I were greeted by the pleasant sound of chattering locals, the mouth-watering smell of freshly prepared food and a polite and genuinely helpful team of staff. The cosy bar area entertained groups of friends and couples – along with a few four-legged friends – as they sipped their pints of beer and enjoyed the live rugby showing on televisions around the room.
The interior is furnished with a blend of traditional and modern decor with candles that contribute to the relaxed ambience. Once seated, we perused the attractive menus. We were spoilt for choice by the delicious selection of hearty classics: starters ranged from baked Camembert with chutney to smoked salmon with cream cheese, lemon and caperberries. I decided to opt for the crispy salt and pepper squid, which was perfectly cooked and accompanied by a fresh green salad, while my friend chose the creamy butternut squash and coconut soup – one of the day’s specials. Appetites sufficiently whetted, we moved on to the eagerly anticipated main course. On the menu, dishes such as the Exmoor venison steak with red wine and redcurrant sauce piqued my interest, and the range of burgers – all served in a soft brioche bun – sounded incredibly enticing. After much deliberation I settled upon the roasted lamb rump with Dauphinoise potatoes, minted pea purée and a red wine jus and was delighted with my choice. The lamb was cooked exactly as I had requested and the red wine sauce was beautifully rich and slightly tart – the ideal complement to the creamy potatoes. My companion’s dish of slow-roasted pork belly was succulent and juicy. The side of mustard mash was subtly sweet and the greens added an element of freshness.
We finished our evening with delectable desserts: the chocolate fondant was gorgeously gooey and the indulgent sticky toffee pudding and came with lashings of piping hot custard. As we left, we waved goodbye to the cheery team and agreed to return next time we’re in Taunton.