Weekend guide to North Norfolk: where to eat and drink
North Norfolk is perfect for a weekend get-away. Let the local landscape guide your plate in this corner of eastern England with ultra-fresh lobster, venison and popcorn just some of its spoils. Written by Sarah Baxter, August 2015.
1 Top deli Refurbed in 2014 by Jeanne Whittome (ex of Burnham Market’s acclaimed Hoste Arms), Thornham Deli sells local produce – and cooks it up in a rustic beach shack-style café. Arrive before noon for breakfast, sizzling with rare breed sausages.
2 Summer seafood At Brancaster Staithe from April to October, fisherman Simon Letzer’s The Crab Hut sells the fruit of his labour: crayfish, cockles, prawns and lobster, dressed and stuffed in baguettes, plus salmon and kippers cured in his own, Ringstead, smokehouse.
3 Real ale Snettisham’s Rose and Crown is a 700-year-old treasure. It’s now a gastro-inn with log fires and a good range of real ales; pick the zesty, Norfolk-brewed Woodforde’s Wherry to go with Brancaster oysters and mussels.
4 Choice cut Hidden in a deer park south of Cromer, The Gunton Arms might have art by Tracey Emin on the walls but its food is reasonably priced. Eat in the Elk Room, where meat (including the estate’s own venison) is roasted on a huge, open fire.
5 Hot chips Eric Snaith of Brancaster’s Titchwell Manor (see how to do it), has recently opened Eric’s Fish & Chips in nearby Thornham. Here, the seaside classic is perfectly cooked: sustainable fish, light, crispy beer batter, local spuds fried in beef dripping, and battered gherkins and homemade tartare sauce.
6 Cooking class If you want to do more than eat dinner at the Michelin-starred Morston Hall, you can peek into chef-patron Galton Blackiston’s illustrious kitchen by signing up for one of his occasional half-day demos or three-day residential courses.
7 Top of the pops Norfolk’s only popcorn grower, Algy Garrod of Algy’s Farm in Bintree, first trialled drying cobs in his airing cupboard before buying the world’s biggest corn wok. Made using local rapeseed oil and sugar beet, Algy’s Norfolk Popcorn comes in salt, sweet and chilli hot flavours.
8 Food festival The first weekend of September sees the North Norfolk Food Festival set up stall, with over 50 local butchers, ale-brewers, ice-cream churners, cheese-makers, cake bakers and chefs taking over the walled garden at Holkham Hall.
9 Local lookout The wide-windowed White Horse, which gazes over Brancaster Staithe’s tidal marshes, majors on seasonal local seafood. A good sampler is the seafood platter, which includes brown crab hummus, saffron pickled cockles, salt cod arancini and curried crayfish, £15.50, or order Brancaster mussels in season (September-April).
10 Locavore dining The small, changing menu at Wiveton Hall’s primary-bright cafe includes ham hock terrine wrapped in savoy cabbage and burnt honey creme brûlée with rosemary shortbread. In summer, strawberries, blackcurrants and other fruits can be PYO-ed here too.
11 Doorstep dining ‘Norfolk’s finest food delivered to your door’ is the ethos of local suppliers Norfolk Food Heroes. Its Norfolk Weekend Break Selection is a taster hamper, including Top Farm free-range eggs, Perfick Pork ham, coffee from Glandford’s Grey Seal Roasters and Sandringham apple juice, £49.
12 Culinary cure With its own smokehouse to cure locally sourced rare-breed, free-range pork Creake Abbey Café does an understandably popular line in Norfolk Black ham and bacon; buy some in the food hall, or cooked up for breakfast in the café.
13 Top toast Admiral Horatio Nelson was born in Burnham Thorpe, and the 17th-century Lord Nelson pub honours the naval hero with its own rum-n-spice concoction, Nelson’s Blood. Alternatively opt for a real ale, served from the tap room, straight from the cask.
14 Sweet treat For afternoon tea, Byfords in historic Holt is just the spot. Served alongside the usual finger sandwiches and scones is a selection of its homemade cakes: perhaps sticky date, Norfolk shortcake or a wedge of choc-orange sponge.
15 Floral fodder The Picnic Fayre deli is squashed into an old forge in the shadow of Cley windmill. Look out for its own range of spice pastes, one of which adds the oomph to its speciality bread: fluffy focaccia drizzled with lavender marinade.
How to do it: Trains from London to Norwich (for connections to Cromer) and King’s Lynn take two hours (nationalrail.co.uk). Coasthopper buses are useful for getting around North Norfolk (coasthopper.co.uk). Double rooms at Titchwell Manor cost from £125, b&b; make sure you book in for dinner too (titchwellmanor.com). More information: visit northnorfolk.com.
Photography: north norfolk cottages, sarah baxter, visit north norfolk
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