My wife was a little envious when I mentioned some weeks ago I had popped into this particular venue for a little lunch - a pizza as it turned out.... a really good one too.
So, it was only a matter of time before The Six Bells at Witham on the Hill (between Bourne and Stamford) appeared on the “to do” list. More so when the words tuna and carpaccio appeared in the starters.
We first visited in the summer of 2014, not long after it had reopened after a long and extensive refurbishment. It was very tastefully done, a few modern touches adding to the wooden floors and wooden panelling but maintaining the country pub feel. Clearly people feel comfortable popping in to their village local for a drink in the bar area, which is dog friendly, and there is plenty of dining-only space.
Three years on it is still pristine and the outdoor area at the front has been much improved.
Not surprisingly, it was the tuna carpaccio (£8) for Donna; light, refreshing and melt-in-the-mouth.
Quail, chicken and foie gras terrine grabbed my attention, but given we are coming to the height of the asparagus season, my choice was equally as predictable: beautifully grilled Suffolk asparagus - a bit of bite and a fantastic taste - topped off with a terrific crispy poached egg, the coating was golden and crunchy and the yolk oozed out, and the Hollandaise sauce was another winner (£7). The bowl of fresh bread came in really handy.
There are some great pub favourites on the lunchtime menu - fish and chips with mushy peas, garlic roasted chicken with fries and Bearnaise sauce, and my choice - Lincolnshire sausages with mash, greens and mustard sauce (£12). The sausages were nicely cooked - meaty with a slightly crisp skin - the mash was thick and rich, the greens (including asparagus and sprouting brocolli) nicely cooked and not just there to fill the plate, and the gravy was a real treat. And again the bread came into play.
Comfort food at its best.
The main lunch menu includes goats cheese and red pepper risotto, herb crumbed skrei cod and rump of lamb.
As it turned out, Donna swapped the crab macaroni for some greens to accompany her fillet of sea bream, with a crispy skin and wonderfully soft flesh, delightful asparagus and more of that fantastic, moreish hollandaise sauce (£17).
For the two girls, perfect mini pizzas from the wood fired oven (is there a better way to cook them?) The base was thin and crisp, the topping a luscious combination of cheese and tomato. Eleven out of 11 said our enthusiastic four year old. Little sister agreed.
The service was friendly, attentive and accommodating, thanks to owner Sharon, making the £70 bill, including a couple of drinks and ice cream for the little ones, perfectly acceptable.
Brad Barnes dines at The Six Bells, Witham on the Hill. Tel 01778 590360 www.sixbellswitham.co.uk