After Hours: Get your friendly fill at Bell Hotel
Stars and Stripes March 12, 2008
MILDENHALL — The restaurant and pub at the Bell Hotel is like a Denny’s. Both offer average food but serve breakfast all day to the delight of many.
Unlike the ubiquitous chain of American diners, the Bell is a mom-and-pop shop where you can get a beer with your breakfast.
But forget about pancakes, French toast or waffles. This is the “full English,” or Bell Breakfast in this case. It’s a plate overflowing with two pieces of bacon, two sausages, mushrooms, a grilled tomato, baked beans, fried potatoes, fried eggs and toast or fried bread. (See, there’s plenty of grease and pork products to compensate for the lack of the syrup-laden American breakfast staples.)
The Bell even serves black pudding, a sausage made with pig blood and fat.
“If you describe it, people say ‘ew’ and don’t want it,” said Dawn Banfield, hotel administrator. “But if they just order it and eat it, they think it’s good.”
Banfield said the all-day breakfast is a big draw for the 17-room hotel and eatery. The beauty of the setup is that, unlike a typical pub, you can have a meal away from the watering hole but still sidle up to the bar for a pint later. There’s a lounge near the reception desk where you can also eat or have a quiet drink.
The menu is typical pub grub. Along with the full- English or an omelette, both 4.75 pounds, main courses include gammon (ham) steak, cottage pie, fish and chips and homemade lasagna, ranging from 4.75 pounds to 8.75 pounds. Higher-priced plates include the 20-ounce T-bone steak, which at 15.95 pounds hardly seems worth it, considering the quality of the food coming out of the kitchen. Not bad, just not great.
But it’s the friendly staff, not necessarily the food, that keep people coming back, say regulars.
“Everybody is just really nice here,” said local Leanne Rooney, 19.
What’s more, she said, “it’s cheaper than the White Hart [hotel] next door.”
The pub has a juke box, pool table, two electronic slot machines and a giant-screen TV. There’s also a quiz night every other Thursday, karaoke once a month and a live DJ on Friday nights.
The Bell houses a lively mix of regulars, running the gamut from giggling teens to obnoxious old drunks, with hotel guests as the wild cards.
For Nick Foster, 21, the Bell’s appeal hinges on a simple, but effective, combination of elements.
“You got football on the telly (TV), friends at the bar, a pool table. It doesn’t take a lot to make me happy.”
See previous After Hours reviews here.
Bell Hotel Pub and Restaurant
Location: 25 High St., downtown Mildenhall.
Food: Pub grub, breakfast served all day.
Drinks: beer, wine and mixed drinks.
Ambience: relaxed with big-screen TV, pool table, video slots.
Hours: The restaurant is open 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. for lunch and 5:30-9 p.m. for dinner Monday through Saturday. There is a Sunday Roast from noon to 3 p.m.
The pub is open 11:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m. or midnight Sunday through Thursday. It closes at 2 a.m. on Fridays and 1 a.m. on Saturdays.