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25 x restaurants

With a son as a professional chef and being a keen amateur cook myself, food has always loomed large in our household and Norfolk is the perfect place for exploring the county’s increasingly great reputation for fabulous food.  From the humble ‘chippie’ to award winning restaurants, here are some of my favourites.

1. French’s Fish & Chips - Wells-next-the-Sea

You know somewhere is good when there is a queue out the door and inevitably at French’s there is.  Whilst you are waiting enjoy the glorious views of the East Fleet creeks with its exposed sand bars, colourful boats and soaring seagulls and once you have your fish and chips wrapped up, find a spot on the sea wall and enjoy.

2. The Wiveton Bell - Wiveton

A great pub with beams and artwork on the walls featuring local artists’ work.  The pub has a good atmosphere, a garden for sunny summer eating out and a roaring fire to cosy round on cooler days.  During the winter on weekdays, it features a wine and dine for £10.99 – a total bargain and the food is delicious!

3. Wiveton Hall Café - Wiveton

Put on the map of late by the BBC’s Normal for Norfolk series, Wiveton Hall Café is an institution with locals and visitors alike.  With spectacular coastal marshland views and in the summer months a PYO garden, this lovely bistro café serves up scrumptious lunches and afternoon teas from March to October. 

4. Back to the Garden – Holt

The food here is always great, whether you are looking for a light lunch snack, a full-on Sunday lunch or a curry on a Friday night, a great deal of the food sourced is organic and the impressive 18th Century barn where the restaurant is based, is a beautiful setting.  There is also a great farm shop here that sells that organic vegetables, has a local butcher and a super delicatessen.

5. Creake Abbey Café & Farm Shop – North Creake

Another lovely farm shop/restaurant combo in north-west Norfolk that makes a great coffee pit-stop for cakes, pastries and goodies that add to the waistline!  They also serve up breakfast, lunches and afternoon teas and are open 7 days a week.  There is a permanent farm shop next to the café and on the first Saturday of each month a great Farmer’s Market showcasing local produce.

6. The Wildebeest Arms – Stoke Holy Cross 

Located in a small village just to the south of Norwich, the Wildebeest has a great reputation and this year was a finalist in the Norfolk Food and Drink Awards.  Unusually, the restaurant is supplied with produce direct from its own farm, so you can’t get fresher than that and you can join their Diners Club for one-off foodie events and tastings. 

7. The Dial House – Reepham 

Tucked away in the pretty market town of Reepham, The Dial House offers unique eating experiences where you can literally purchase the plate you eat off!  Full of quirky rooms and some pretty antiques, the atmosphere is cosy and comfortable.  Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the menu changes monthly and Sunday lunches are cooked in the AGA. 

8. The Hunny Bell – Hunworth 

Set in a pretty valley in the village of Hunworth just 2 miles south of Holt, The Hunny Bell is run by the same team as the award winning Duck Inn at Stanhoe.  With an 18th Century beamed main bar, a snug and additional rooms there is a lovely atmosphere here and the gardens in the summer are great for outdoor dining.  Award winning chef Ben Handley is producing some fantastic pub classics, bar bites and fine dining dishes.

9. The White Horse – Brancaster 

A lovely pub/restaurant on the north Norfolk coast with a well-deserved reputation for great sea food amongst its dishes.  Book a table in the conservatory and you can look out over the marshes to the sea beyond and who knows, you may even see the local fisherman bringing in the day’s catch, fresh to the table. 

10. The Belgian Monk – Norwich 

If you are visiting Norwich this is a great spot to stop for a culinary break.  If you are a beer fan you are in for a treat, with a selection of 45, including a unique range of Belgian Beers, to choose from.  The menu caters for all but its speciality is mussels, which they serve up in 11 different ways and cook over 15 tonnes annually.

11. The Orange Tree - Thornham

This great pub/restaurant on the top of the north Norfolk coast, caters for everyone, including the dog – with a specialist dog-specific menu of pigs ears in gravy, doggie sausage roll or a bone with marrow.  The pub itself has been awarded the Good Pub Guide Norfolk Pub of the Year since 2013 and has retained the title again for 2017.  Serving up pub classics, innovative dishes and great sea food, which has also seen the pub win Great British Seafood Pub of the Year too – what’s not to like?

12. The Gunton Arms – Thorpe Market

Set in a 1,000 acre deer park this unique pub cooks locally sourced beef and venison on an open fire in the main dining room, you can’t get much fresher than that.  The owners are world-renowned modern art collectors and so the conversation is never going to run dry with works by Tracy Emin, Paula Rego and Damien Hearst on the walls. 

13. The Walpole Arms – Itteringham 

Once found this lovely pub will easily become a favourite.  The setting is super pretty as the pub is located in the tranquil village of Itteringham and many of the houses here are looked after by the National Trust.  With barbeques in the gardens in the summer and sumptuous suppers in the beamed 18th Century bar at other times of the year, the pub has won the coveted Michelin Bib Gourmand Prize for 10 years in a row. 

14. The Moorings – Blakeney 

The Moorings is a relaxed style bistro with a cooking reputation that is second to none and the puddings are to die for!  Based in the heart of the coastal village of Blakeney you can walk off all the calories afterwards but don’t forget to sample fantastic local fish, shellfish, game in season and wash it down with a little something from the well-chosen wine list.

15. The Folly Tea Room – Holt 

If you are looking for grown-up afternoon tea, look no further than The Folly Tea Room.  Cake stands laden with delicate sandwiches, scones and cream, finger cakes and biscuits all cooked on the premises, are the order of the day.  With 39 tea blends to choose from and everything served on or in vintage china, your visit will take you to another era – the Duchess of Bedford who invented the institution of afternoon tea in the 19th Century would be proud!

16. The Recruiting Sergeant - Horstead

Set on the edge of the Broads, this well-known pub has a good reputation for its classic pub food, Sunday lunches and fresh seafood.  There is a lovely garden to eat out in during warmer weather and a cosy fire to curl round in the winter, with a good ale in hand!  If you want to walk off a lovely lunch, a 30 minute stroll will take you from the door of the pub up to Horstead Mill and Coltishall Lock. 

17. The Anchor Inn – Morston

A warm welcome awaits in this great coastal gastro pub that is run by a young and enthusiastic team.  The food is consistently good and showcases in particular local seafood and game, alongside a great selection of local ales.   You can also book a trip out to Blakeney Point to see the local seal colony from here – wrap up from November onwards to see the new born pups too.

18. The Duck Inn – Stanhoe 

This year’s winner of the prestigious Good Food Guide East of England Pub of the Year, a trip to The Duck Inn is a must.  Brancaster crab, Norfolk mussels, locally smoked salmon and gingerbread are regulars on the menu together with locally sourced pork and beef from the Holkham estate - yum, yum!

19. Brasted’s – Framingham Pigot

Just 4 miles from Norwich this award winning restaurant is a great fine dining experience, creating fantastic dishes from locally sourced Norfolk ingredients, the kitchen conjures up classic dishes with a modern twist – just the spot for a special occasion or celebration.

20. The River Kitchen Café – Hoveton 

The location of the River Kitchen Café is beautiful, with its decking overlooking the Broads right on the edge of the river at Hoveton and if you are coming by boat you can moor up outside.  Winner of the best Broadland Café in its opening year, the café serves up breakfast, lunch and afternoon teas. 

21. Marriott’s Warehouse – King’s Lynn 

Built in 1580 this impressive quayside warehouse is now a modern eaterie located in the heart of the historic quarter of King’s Lynn.  You can sit outside on the quayside or gaze at the brilliant views from the first floor bar.  There is a café and a restaurant here and on Sundays, if you pre-order, the Warehouse will cook your selected joint of either chicken, pork, beef or lamb, carve it serve it and do the washing up! 

22. The Assembly House  –  Norwich 

This fine Grade 1 listed Georgian building is as well known in the heart of Norwich for its interiors and historical significance as it is for its reputation for fine food.  Serving breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, you can also take in a pre-theatre supper if you are popping in to a show at the Theatre Royal next door.  If that’s not enough and you want to learn to cook some of the dishes,  there is a Cookery School in the grounds too.  

23. Winterton Dunes Beach Café

Not fussy or flouncy this beachside café serves up home baked cakes, soups, baguettes, crab sandwiches and more.   If the weather is a little blustery, they provide mini beach huts to sit in keep the wind and weather at bay.  The beach and the dunes behind are a great place for walks and dogs are allowed on the beach year round.  If you are in this part of east Norfolk don’t miss it!

24. The Mulberry Tree – Attleborough 

This lively south Norfolk restaurant has a menu that changes daily to reflect the locally sourced produce and creates an inventive and exciting menu of gastro pub food.  There is an sunny garden for dining alfresco and an extensive list of cocktails, wines, speciality gins and single malts.  

25. The Neptune Inn – Old Hunstanton

This is a former 18th Century coaching inn set in a lovely coastal village on the north Norfolk coast. Fine dining is on offer and the inn has retained a Michelin star since 2009. Lobsters, seafood and locally landed fish are served alongside meats and game sourced from local farms and estates.  

By Joanna Hobson