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Secret Drinker reviews the The Bell pub at Minster, Ramsgate


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Sitting right on the main road in Minster, it’s apparent the moment you walk through the door that The Bell can boast centuries of history in the village.

The beams, the fireplaces, not to mention the various ephemera adorning the walls all deliver tell-tale signs this large boozer, right at the heart of the community, has been popular with locals for years.

The Bell Inn sits right on the roadside at the centre of Minster-in-Thanet
The Bell Inn sits right on the roadside at the centre of Minster-in-Thanet

But, the current incumbents behind the bar obviously aren’t content to simply rely on tradition and have introduced several up-to-date touches – there is, for example, a bespoke seating area around a TV screen showing sport and many of the extensive outdoor facilities have been updated.

So, with a rumbling tum, I was very positive about my lunchtime visit and looking forward to a hearty meal.

Opening the menu I was incredibly surprised, not to say more than a little disappointed, by the severe lack of choice available. However, it wasn’t many moments before some kindly, helpful soul informed me the pages of my menu had become glued together. Unsticking them opened up a whole host of new options and I now have to inform you there should be something for everyone.

When I managed to unstick the pages of the menu there were far more items on it than I first realised
When I managed to unstick the pages of the menu there were far more items on it than I first realised

And, to be fair, I strongly suspect the reason the pages were stuck was due to over-zealous sanitizing and cleaning rather than anything at the other end of the scale.

With many extra choices now available to me I decided to go nautical and went for a fisherman’s salad with prawn and tuna for £8.45.

There were a few beers available, a Ghost Ship, a John Smiths, Wainwright’s or the one I decided to go for, which was Doom Bar.

With its dark beams, horse brasses and old pictures of the village on the wall, there cannot be many more traditional pubs than The Bell
With its dark beams, horse brasses and old pictures of the village on the wall, there cannot be many more traditional pubs than The Bell

Served by Rachel, the pint was perfectly fine and well poured – then just as I took my first sip I was transported back to my youth, not just because I used to be partial to the odd Doom Bar but also because they began playing a series of ska tunes on the sound system.

There are some very decent touches, slate place mats cut into the tables, fresh flowers on every dining table.

The food was delivered promptly and each element, the prawns, tuna and sauce all arrived in separate bowls, ready to be added to the salad.

My nautical fisherman’s salad came deconstructed with the prawns, tuna and thousand island dressing all presented separately
My nautical fisherman’s salad came deconstructed with the prawns, tuna and thousand island dressing all presented separately

It was tasty enough and was certainly freshly prepared, but the food, like the surroundings, is traditional in the extreme.

Whilst there are few bigger fans of classic village boozers than me - the kind of pub that sticks to what they do best and aren’t afraid to hang horse brasses off the beams, I couldn’t help thinking this one is only a short step away from turning into Acorn Antiques.

Then, as if to confirm my thoughts that the place is somehow stuck in time, the next tune to be pumped into the bar was Tiger Feet by Mud.

I didn’t try a pudding but there was a large selection on the menu, all priced at £5.25
I didn’t try a pudding but there was a large selection on the menu, all priced at £5.25

Although I’d chosen to sit inside, I took a few moments to wander outside and was impressed by the well-developed gardens.

Most folk in for lunch were of a certain age and no one had chosen to sit outside in the sunshine, which was a shame as it’s obvious a good deal of time and effort has been spent on ensuring everything is in good order.

I’m reliably informed there are plans to re-open the barbecue area in coming weeks and also re-introduce live music to the pub’s large garden.

The extensive back garden has undergone a makeover during lockdown with several new benches and sheltered areas
The extensive back garden has undergone a makeover during lockdown with several new benches and sheltered areas

By the time I got back to the bar I’d been joined by three insurance salesmen on the next table who were delighted they could get back into the pub for the first time this year.

To celebrate they ordered two pints of lime and soda and one of orange squash before entering into a detailed discussion about the various abilities of the current Chelsea and West Ham squads. I think I’d have preferred it if they’d tried to sell insurance.

Whilst the blackboard featured several decent looking puds, I couldn’t quite face hanging around to sample another course.

Not yet back in action, the barbecue area will be open again in the next few weeks
Not yet back in action, the barbecue area will be open again in the next few weeks

The Bell, 2 High Street, Minster, Ramsgate CT12 4BU

Decor: There might be a new carpet and several new seating areas, but with its beams, horse brasses and old agricultural tools hung around the bar this is about as traditional as it’s possible to be. **

Drink: The Doom Bar was a decent pint and there were several other beers available on tap. If I’d had more time I would have definitely sampled the Marston’s Wainwright. ***

Sitting right on the main road, The Bell has been serving locals in Minster for almost 500 years
Sitting right on the main road, The Bell has been serving locals in Minster for almost 500 years

Price: The Doom Bar cost £4.30 and the fisherman’s salad was £8.45. I decided against a pudding in the end but there was plenty of choice available, all priced at £5.25. ***

Food: Once I’d managed to open the full menu it became clear there’s something on offer for everyone. The food is fresh and tasty but, like the rest of the pub, is traditional in the extreme. ***

Staff: Polite enough, without being overly attentive or effusive, the bar staff seemed completely at home in their traditional surroundings. ***

No-one was indulging while I was in, but there’s a large, sheltered smoking area
No-one was indulging while I was in, but there’s a large, sheltered smoking area
The gents were clean, fresh-smelling and well presented
The gents were clean, fresh-smelling and well presented
Clearly alive to a commercial opportunity, the menu is sponsored by a local estate agent
Clearly alive to a commercial opportunity, the menu is sponsored by a local estate agent

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