ALE Spring 2003 No. 309

The Merry Monk Changes Its Habit

Merry Monk, West Street, Isleham

What a change for a pub to go from a good free house serving good ale and good pub grub to a free house serving quality Adnams ales and excellent, freshly prepared and cooked food! This transformation, which is quite astounding if you are a food lover, is all down to a change of landlord/lady and their team.

From the outside there is little apparent difference except that there are a lot more cars in the car park. On the inside there are only a few subtle changes which suit the style of the pub it has now become.

The public bar (a separate room from the rest of the pub, though accessible from the restaurant area) has had little alteration: the pool table is still there, and used, and the regulars are still there drinking. A few of the previous landlord's decorations have gone and it's had a fresh coat of paint, but that's about all.

The lounge (which is strictly speaking the restaurant area) has had a similar freshen-up. It seats up to 45 in two no-smoking dining areas and a very comfortable and relaxing lounge area. With food such as skate wing, turbot, kiln-smoked fish, trout, good steaks, knuckle of lamb, and traditional French and English dishes the menu has something for everyone. Vegetarians are well catered for, too. The desserts are also something special: homemade ice cream, mascarpone trifle, maple syrup roly-poly and a lot more besides. [Now come on Adrian, this isn't Real City, you have to talk about the beer in a pub review, you know - Ed.]

Although more of a restaurant than a pub, for us ale lovers, good food is usually best appreciated when accompanied by good and well-kept ale. The Merry Monk has two: Adnams Best and Broadside, which are both kept in very good nick. Even if you don't normally drink real ale, why not try a half with your meal? You may be pleasantly surprised by how well it complements your food.

For instance, Adnams Best goes well with almost all fish dishes, most white meat dishes, and a fresh summer salad; it is quite well hopped and has a fresh palate with a hint of citrus, which is why in my opinion it goes better with more delicately flavoured foods: neither will be fighting for control of your tastebuds. Broadside, with its rich malty flavour and sweet undertone, is more at home with foods that are in a rich sauce, or with stronger meats such as beef or game: its flavours are not overwhelmed by the richness of the food. Or why not try some Broadside instead of port with your cheese selection? It really does complement a mature cheddar or strong stilton very well?

So go and enjoy the ale, the food, and maybe even both together - you could be pleasantly surprised!

Opening times:
Mondayclosed all day
Tuesday1900 - 2300
Wednesday1900 - 2300
Thursday1900 - 2300
Friday1230 - 14001900 - 2300
Saturday1200 - 15001900 - 2300
Sunday1200 - 15001900 - 2230
[Multimap]
There is no food on Sunday night. Late licence at the bar (till midnight) if you are eating. Booking for the restaurant strongly advisable. Children's Certificate.
Tel. (01638) 780900.

Adrian Larwood


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