The Merry Monk–Isleham

I have failed in my blogging duties. Yes, I know. And I’m sorry.

We first ate at The Merry Monk in February of 2013. I was deep in the throes of job hunting at the time, and not really concentrating on anything else because PANIC, so the blog post didn’t get written up. Nothing but job hunt work went on at that time, it was all pervading.

So, almost exactly a year on, we went back. Ma in law chose to go there for her birthday, and we all gladly complied as we’d had such a nice time there before.

The pub

The first time we visited, the very knowledgeable and friendly owner, Adrian, was just about to send himself back into the kitchen full time instead of being front of house, and on that on that first visit, they cooked me the best duck I have ever eaten.

Goosnargh duck

I’m sure that the others had lunch as well, but I was so intent on devouring mine that I’m not sure I took proper note…

We all loved the homemade breads though. One molasses and one stout.

Stout and molasses breads

This time we went on a Saturday, and again, were not disappointed at all.

Tex and I got there first, so we got some nibbles of home made pork scratchings and I had a pot of tea. Because it’s me, and I always want tea. The little milk bottle made me feel like I was back at school, before Mrs Thatcher took away our milk. (No I still haven’t forgiven her.)

Tea with tiny milk bottle

Mom and Dad turned up soon after, and we settled down to the serious business of choosing what to have for lunch. Or brunch, really.

Dad and I settled on Venison and bacon pasty, with a crisp coated hen’s egg and home made piccalilli. EXCELLENT piccalilli it was too. At no point did it try and punch me in the face. It was a well behaved pickle, with a glorious soft boiled egg and a pasty that was dense with meaty flavours. And a brioche soldier to dip in the yolk! (apologies for photo quality, it was quite dark.)

Venison pasty with crispy hen egg

A moment of quiet was needed after that, but then up came the mains. A pork and bacon pie with greens for me and Dad. Tex had calves liver with mash and caramelised shallots and Mom had what she called perfect fish and chips.

Pork and bacon pie

That was one seriously packed pie. Tender gammon chunks, melting pork pieces and pastry that had butter layers, but didn’t shatter into a thousand pieces as soon as you tried to cut into it. Perfectly cooked buttery greens and a piquant piccalilli mash.

A well-stuffed pie

Mom’s perfect fish, chips and mushy peas. The chips were fluffy in the middle and properly crisp on the outside, just as they should be. The peas were made with fresh peas and mint, not marrowfat, so were much lighter.

Crispy cod and utterly perfect chips

A gentle snooze would have been useful at this point. Very useful indeed.

But no. Creme brulee with a ginger shortbread and poached rhubarb was coming to our table.

For once, there was a decent ratio of creme to brulee topping. Dark but not bitter, nicely thin so that it shattered properly. My only problem was that the rhubarb pieces were too big and refused to cut, but they were fresh and zingy, so I coped. Possibly needed more ginger in the biscuit, but that didn’t hang around very long!

Creme brulee, ginger shortbread, rhubarb compote

Dad had possibly the largest piece of treacle tart I have ever seen. Mom’s coffee came with home made petit fours of chocolate truffle, fudge and a coconut marshmallow cloud.

We really didn’t move far after that. In fact we were loathe to move anywhere, but they were about to close. Smile

All in all another very successful and deeply pleasant lunch experience. Oh I do think that we will be visiting a lot more.

Thank you Adrian, Michelle and your lovely Merry Monk staff!

The Merry Monk

30 West Street,

01638 780900

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