All the fun of the new
14th July 2021
Exciting times for food-lovers in North Norfolk with pubs and hotels getting makeovers and new foodie destinations opening up. Alison Huntley checks out some of the new kids on the block
Sun rises on Sundown
A seasonal restaurant in giant tipis with a relaxed menu based around pizza, Norfolk tapas and ice cream… that was the dream that came true at The Grove in Cromer.
They bought a pizza oven as the country emerged from the first lockdown last year so they could serve food outside on the lawns. Demand was so great that within two weeks, they bought a second one.
Now the tipis provide a little shelter and the result, says owner Chris Graveling, is a place where “people can sit and watch the sun slip away while raising a glass and wishing good riddance to the past 12 months”.
The pizzas include seafood specials, duck and spring onion, and courgette, charred shallots and tomato with rhubarb chutney. Norfolk tapas feature everything from local crab to samphire, spiced lamb kofta and Wells cockles.
01263 512412, www.thegrovecromer.co.uk
Star of the show
An old pub building that lay empty for years has been brought back to life as a centre for delicious fine foods from Italy and France as well as deepest Norfolk.
Star Plain Stores in Holt, once the Dolphin Inn, is the brainchild of food-obsessed Langham couple Tom Brady and Nik Southern. While Nik runs another new venture next door – the Grace & Thorn plant and lifestyle store – Tom oversees a foodie paradise where customers can not just shop but also enjoy a coffee or a cheese toastie (they pride themselves on their cheese) or maybe pick up a speciality food pack for the beach.
As well as that impressive cheese range, the store will have salamis, passata, pasta and organic wine plus lots of local goodies from Staithe Smokehouse fish to charcuterie from Marsh Pig and Bray’s Cottage Pork Pies.
01263 478500, @starplainstores
Here be dragons
There have been big changes going on at The George in Cley. The 18th century hotel has had a major facelift and reverted to its old name of The George & Dragon.
Ten elegant boutique rooms are now available, seven of which look out over the glorious marshland that Sir David Attenborough declared was one of his top ten places in the world to see wildlife.
In the kitchen, head chef Charles Rush is passionate about sustainability and using fresh, seasonal and locally sourced produce to create tempting and delicious plates all year round.
The restaurant and bar menus are designed to evolve with the seasons and highlight exceptional Norfolk produce. Alongside great food are fine regional drinks, whether a Norfolk ale such as Woodeford’s Wherry or craft spirits including the finest local gins.
01263 741578, www.georgeanddragoncley.co.uk
The buzz about Winibees
It’s a family affair for Sheringham’s Winibees Bakery where husband and wife team Megan and Jimmy Hart named their gorgeous cake shop after the merged names of their children, Winnie and Barnaby.
Pedigree matters here. Megan, a North Norfolk native, has been a professional baker for eight years, including four at the renowned Hummingbird Bakery in London. Jimmy was a professional musician.
“Opening a cake shop has always been a dream for us but Covid accelerated it,” says Megan. The coffee and cake takeaway is an Instagrammable hotspot and specialises in cupcakes, cakes, cookies and traybakes.
“We also sell coffees, teas and milkshakes. We recommend the Biscoff milkshake with a stuffed chocolate chip NYC cookie or one of our signature red velvet cupcakes.”
Expect themed products for every calendar event and a bespoke service for buttercream celebration cakes.
Success is Meadowsweet
It’s been a long old haul for the ex-Morston Hall couple behind Holt’s beautiful and chic new Meadowsweet restaurant.
Greg Anderson, Morston Hall’s head chef for six years, and his partner Rebecca Williams, who was general manager there, have taken on the old, fondly-remembered Yetmans restaurant in the town.
They fell in love with the Grade II-listed place instantly but the refurb was “a much bigger one than we naively anticipated”, says Greg. But they got there in the end and created their dream of a “little restaurant with rooms”.
There are just 20 covers and the food follows a tasting menu format with the focus firmly on great produce. “It will be served very simply,” says Greg. “Basically, we have created a restaurant that we would love to go to.”
It’s two for joy with the arrival of Two Magpies in North Norfolk. The craft bakery/cafe combo, which already has a scattering of places in Suffolk and Norwich, has recently opened in St Nicholas Church Rooms on The Quay in Blakeney. An outlet in Holt is due to open mid-August.
All the Two Magpies stores offer a delicious masterclass in the delights of the artisan bakery and cafe world. The Blakeney breakfast/lunch menu features Allpress coffee alongside hand-laminated pastries, both sweet and savoury, and delicious, long-fermented sourdough bread, plus salads, filled baguettes and more, to eat in or take away. Holt will also have a pizza restaurant upstairs as well as the ground-floor informal bakery/cafe.
You can also pick up some great larder items, perhaps blackberry, gin and peppercorn jam or cinnamon swirl butter, as well as ordering bespoke celebration cakes.
Two Magpies Blakeney 01263 741368, www.twomagpiesbakery.co.uk
The name may not be exactly traditional but The Ostrich Inn has the ultimate chocolate box setting, overlooking the village green in picturesque South Creake.
After a complete renovation by Grocott & Murfit, it reopened its doors earlier this year to offer gorgeous rooms, fabulous dining and every modern comfort within its historic and tasteful walls.
Chef Jes Paskin aims for something a little different. As well as a traditional menu and tasty wood-fired pizzas, there are regular special tasting menus.
Perhaps enjoy a pre-dinner drink on the stunning first floor terrace overlooking the courtyard. It’s the perfect spot for a delicious coffee too.
01328 807124, www.theostrichinnnorfolk.co.uk
There was something a little different on offer on Holt high street when H&J opened their new outlet recently. Gelato and churros jostle for space alongside all manner of sweet treats including a Great British Puddings range and a selection of ‘Marvellous Slices’.
Everything is made in H&J’s factory in Beccles and there’s a strong commitment to sustainability and quality, with ethical packaging and no artificial colourings or preservatives.
There are at least a dozen flavours of their award-winning gelato. How about the jaffa cake variety, perhaps topped with a chocolate Sheringham steam train for good measure? Or indulge yourself with freshly-made churros, perfect for dipping into hot chocolate sauce.
The Holt store follows on the heels of their outlets in Suffolk and Sheringham.
01263 586626, www.harrisandjames.com
Down on the farm
It sounds so idyllic – a pop-up restaurant in a farm’s wildflower meadow with delicious burgers from grass-fed local beef, dry-aged and “griddled to juicy perfection”. Add soft-serve ice cream with fab toppings for dessert and some great wine and local craft beers and well, how could you refuse? (There will be a veggie option too.)
Fat Cow Burgers is the brainchild of siblings Jack, Robbie (a private chef) and Lucy Spencer Ashworth, whose Fakenham family farm provides the setting. There are sofas and tables under a stretch tent but you’re welcome to take a picnic blanket if preferred. There’ll also be a firepit on colder evenings.
The food is available to eat in or take away and they aim to operate Thursdays to Sundays until early October.