Eating out in East Norfolk, now this is a blog I loved writing.
I love great food and always want to eat something that I wouldn’t cook at home. If I am with the children I look for that winning combination of a decent quality children’s meal (or an adult meal we can half) with an interesting adult menu. The atmosphere needs to be relaxed. Since moving to Norfolk, we have found some great places to go out for some ‘us’ time, or for celebrating with friends.
My top recommendations:
The Ingham Swan – Hands down this is my top recommendation for a unique dining experience in our part of Norfolk. Fabulous seasonal food, with brilliant and delicate flavors. Booking is essential. This old coaching inn is quite a formal experience before the fire (I would not take my kids there).
As an alternative, I’d recommend the Kings Arms, Fleggburgh. Many of our guests have recently reported it’s excellent and it’s on my list to try.
Further from the barn but worth every mile is the glorious Gunton Arms. This place really knows how to provide its diners with a real experience that, in our case, has us going back again and again. The food is great, especially for meat lovers, but there is so much more to talk about. In a less formal setting than the Ingham Swan, the Gunton Arms is a former hunting lodge, now pub, set in a deer park not far from Cromer.
Owned by a London based art dealer, you can eat fabulous food whilst watching the deer and checking out the amazing art – including a Tracy Emin – which is hung throughout. We always ask to be seated in the Elk room with its huge fireplace and watch the chef cook venison on the indoor open fire. The food is seasonal, intricate but hearty (there is also fish on the menu) and local. There are good veggie dishes too. We recommend getting there earlier than your pre-booked (essential) table and taking a short walk into the park and also schedule in some time to soak up the atmosphere in the bar. Some of our guests have taken their children for Sunday lunch and said that it was amazing so we’ll have to do that soon.
To throw in a curve ball, why not go to Planet Spice in Ormesby St. Margaret. The quality of the cooking in this restaurant near village green was a pleasant surprise. Serving authentic Indian cuisine, the chef’s speciality dishes are superb and the traditional favourites always hit the mark. The décor is as bold as the flavours for full sensory overload!
Closer to home
Nearer to the barn, good options for a celebration meal are the Kings Arms in near by Fleggburgh, which has a contemporary British menu or Recruiting Sergeant in Horstead which gets good reviews. If you fancy a trip to Suffolk I found a real gem of a place over the summer. Just outside the delightful town of Southwold, about 50 mins form the Barn I discovered the cafe in Darsham Nurseries. Here, they grow their own veg for a beautiful on-site restaurant, which is open most days and serves dinner Friday and Saturday from their a la carte menu. They describe their food as ‘a modern approach to fresh, veg-led dishes with a Middle-Eastern influence’. I loved the bright little cafe with its great art on the walls and the food was tasty, unusual and a real treat if you like veggie food. I can’t wait to go back (it’s not somewhere I’d take the kids though).
If you are here for the weekend only and want somewhere closer to eat some pub grub then the Fisherman’s Return in the village is both child and dog friendly and ten minutes walk from the Barn.
It serves huge meals (my parents always share) and has a small children’s menu. It’s a convenient venue for a large group if you are planning a party or for a quick bite if you arrive late. In the summer food is served all day, in the winter not until 6pm. For atmosphere and kids’ food I’d recommend the Nelson’s Head at Horsey. More or less serving all day all year round, this pub has a roaring open fire in the winter and huge beer garden in the summer. When the nights draw out, if we get a child free night, we walk our dog Bernie along the back of the dunes to this pub, eat dinner and catch a taxi home. Their burgers are great and Neil tends to order their steak and ale pie. Our children love their kids’ menu, rather pleasingly always ordering their ‘spag bol’, followed by a ‘free’ ice-cream.
Since having children, cafes have 4 essential criteria for me, as well as decent food:1) room to move 2) some distraction, books, crayons etc. 3) decent coffee (for me!) and 4) kids’ hot chocolate that isn’t either so huge or hot that it becomes a hazard.
The Quayside Plaza and the Silver Darlings café in Great Yarmouth meet these criteria by the bucket and spade full! So if you find yourselves in the town go try some of their great cakes, and British/Portuguese inspired light lunches or meals (always served with freshly baked bread, herby butter and garlic infused olives, which me and my kids squabble over). If you want to know – their kids’ hot chocolates are small(ish), good value and come luke warm with a straw! Cream is optional and they are always served after the meals. Simple things done well! Phew.
Or stay in…
My final eating recommendation is to stay in. The barn’s kitchen is well equipped and designed for catering for groups. If you end up being the cook you won’t be alone as the open plan living space means that you can still feel part of the family celebrations. With great local produce so easy to hand and a huge array of recipe books , you could have a lovely evening. Some recent guests even decided to do a Mill Farm Eco Barn Ready Steady Cook!
Fresh veggies from our guest allotment, fresh fish from nearby Dabs n Crabs, meat from Chapman’s butchers in Martham and produce from The Tacons farm shop in Rollesby means you’ll have the finest ingredients to make your meal super fresh as well as memorable!