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Why this pub deserved to be named Norfolk's best

PUBLISHED: 13:59 15 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:36 16 October 2019

The Brisley Bell which has won Pub of the Year 2019 at the Eat Norfolk Food And Drink Awards. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Brisley Bell which has won Pub of the Year 2019 at the Eat Norfolk Food And Drink Awards. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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As soon as you step inside The Brisley Bell it is clear to see why this eatery was recently awarded a pub of the year accolade.

The bar area of the Brisley Bell, winners of the Pub of the Year 2019 at the Eat Norfolk Food And Drink Awards. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe bar area of the Brisley Bell, winners of the Pub of the Year 2019 at the Eat Norfolk Food And Drink Awards. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The owners, Marcus and Amelia, have spent the last three years renovating the facilities to a very high standard - and it absolutely shows.

At this year's EAT Norfolk Food and Drink Awards, The Brisley Bell was up against some top competition but scooped the Pub of the Year award after being "highly recommended" by the judges.

As well as a relaxing traditional style bar, filled with character and local ales, the building is also home to a variety of rooms to sit and dine in.

On arrival, we were greeted with smiles and shown to our table in the green room. This area is described as being the "perfect setting for a quiet dinner, special occasion or private party".

Owners of the Brisley Bell, Amelia Nicholson and Marcus Seaman, winners of the Pub of the Year 2019 at the Eat Norfolk Food And Drink Awards. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYOwners of the Brisley Bell, Amelia Nicholson and Marcus Seaman, winners of the Pub of the Year 2019 at the Eat Norfolk Food And Drink Awards. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

We were treated to south facing views of the village's common and happily sat, taking in the breath-taking views of the skies and Norfolk sunset as evening drew in.

The place boasts a variety of nooks and crannies to dine and drink in including the garden room, perfect in summer time for light lunches, or the snug, which is home to a quirky little library and has an open fire place. Cosiness is on tap here with its sofa, armchairs and low beamed ceilings.

Once we made ourselves comfortable, staff continued to make sure we were cared for and looked after us throughout the duration of our meal.

We quickly ordered, having browsed a sample menu on the website before arrival, and opted to jump straight into our mains.

The Brisley Bell sign. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Brisley Bell sign. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

It was a treat in itself getting to glance at the other dishes arriving for other people. And although we didn't have a starter, I soon regretted my decision as generous portions and divine smells soon began to waft over from other tables.

We didn't have long to wait though as my grilled lamb rump with roasted aubergine and minted gravy (£17.75) and my partner's roasted hake with wholegrain mustard mash, spinach and roasted shallots (£18) soon arrived to plenty of "ohs and ahs" from us. As well as being beautifully presented on the plate, it looked appetising, delicious, and filling.

Previous recommendations of The Brisley Bell definitely lived up to expectations and it is safe to say that both meals were devoured quickly with not much conversation between the pair of us as we ate. The smiles on our faces after said it all.

With enough room left for dessert, as fully-fledged cheese-lovers we opted for the cheese platter.

Selection of cheese wih chutney, grapes, celery and biscuits at the Brisley Bell. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOPSelection of cheese wih chutney, grapes, celery and biscuits at the Brisley Bell. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP

Although it was plated-up with care, personally I would have enjoyed it more had it arrived on a board rather than a plate, and also with a selection of local cheeses - especially as the menu is brimming with locally-sourced food.

By the end of our meal the place was packed so we decided to make a quick exit, while promising to return again soon to sample the grilled pigeon breast and black pudding starter.

Value for money

Grilled lamb rump with roasted aubergine and minted gravy at the Brisley Bell. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOPGrilled lamb rump with roasted aubergine and minted gravy at the Brisley Bell. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP

From £5.75 (leek and potato soup with bread and butter) to £11 for pan seared scollops with roasted pepper and garlic butter for a starter, you could end up paying a little more than other traditional pubs. But with food like this, it's to be expected. Mains range from £13.95 to £25.50 for a grilled rib-eye steak but most of the options fall nicely in the middle. Desserts are £6.50 unless you opt for the cheese platter (£9.50).

Setting

Tucked away a few miles from Dereham, The Brisley Bell dominates the landscape which it is set on. A perfect little hideaway, which really isn't too far away at all. A great place for a catch up with loved ones or a special meal.

Roasted hake with wholegrain mustard mash, spinach and roasted shallots at the Brisley Bell. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOPRoasted hake with wholegrain mustard mash, spinach and roasted shallots at the Brisley Bell. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP

Ambiance

The décor and interior of this place is spot on. It's a perfect little country pub with rooms for fine dining or a quick bite to eat - whatever takes your fancy. It was packed by the end of a busy Friday night when we visited and the merriment from locals was infectious.

Service

Friendly and prompt. We felt looked after for the entirety of our meal without being interrupted.

Drinks

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A varied menu - soft drinks, wine, beer. But a gem is the selection of real ales.

Accessibility

The car park isn't completely flat but it's easy to negotiate your way around the building. There were also vegetarian and vegan options on the menu.

Toilets

Small but functional and oh so quaint and lovely.

Parking

There is plenty of parking out front but without any clear markers, drivers do need to be considerate of how they park.

Price

With two mains, a dessert to share and drinks we paid a very reasonable £55.15. Everything appeared fairly priced as the food was so spectacular also good portion sizes.

Highlight

The food was incredible but the setting is just something else. I could easily have taken a good book with me and spent an afternoon relaxing in a cosy chair with a drink. A great little place to escape the world for a bit.

In summary

If you like good, hearty food which is something a bit special, then this is the place for you. It's also a top spot to organise a good catch up with friends at the bar. Definitely worth the drive out there, wherever you are coming from. And if you do fall in the love with the place as much as we did, then maybe check out the accommodation on offer too in one of the six individually designed en-suite rooms.

Three dishes to try

· Grilled pigeon breast with black pudding and celeriac remoulade, £8.50 - If we had opted for a starter then this would have been my partner's first choice. To be fair, most of the starters which were served to other tables around us looked incredibly appetising and generous.

· Roasted duck breast with rosemary potato, braised red cabbage and red currant sauce, £18.50 - I was swayed too much by the roasted aubergine with main course so did not pick this, but if I had to choose again then this dish would be a top contender

· Selection of three scoops of Norfolk county ice cream, £6.50 - You really can't go far wrong with having a good selection of local produce on the menu and it was nice to see this carried over to desserts.

If you like that, try these

· Gunton Arms , Thorpe Market, north Norfolk - Delicious food is served at this popular and quirky pub, which happens to be set against the beautiful backdrop of a 1,000 acre deer park.

· Darby's , Elsing Road, Swanton Morley - This little country eatery has had a huge investment recently after being taken over by its original landlord.

· The White Horse , 4 High Street, Blakeney - It's been named one of the best pubs in Norfolk and is one of only 16 venues from across Nelson's county to be included in the AA's Pub Guide 2020.



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