Review: Seriously good food in the modern and slick The Kitchen at St George's Distillery
PUBLISHED: 12:48 24 April 2019 | UPDATED: 12:48 24 April 2019
You've possibly driven past signs on the A11 for St George's Distillery and never thought about eating there. Nick Richards says go and check it out, it's unlikely you'll be disappointed
Confession time first of all – I don't have any interest in whisky. Maybe the days when I come home from work and pour a Scotch on the rocks are still to come, but right now, frankly I couldn't give a dram.
It made entering St George's Distillery's The English Whisky Company store at Roudham, just off the A11 around seven miles from Thetford, an interesting experience as the plethora of whisky-related products held no interest for me.
But the good news is you don't have to like whisky to come and have a meal at the company's restaurant, The Kitchen, which is cannily accessed through the shop. And, if you do turn off the A11 and waltz past the whiskies, you are in for an absolute treat, for the food is excellent at this family-friendly eaterie.
There's a hint of whisky on the food menu – chutneys, ham and sauces have a dash of it, but it's easy to avoid it once you've passed through the store into the restaurant. It's a cool-looking place alright with a wooden-panelled exterior, huge windows and, inside, a wooden floor, industrial lighting hanging over a slick looking counter and eating area.
We ate last Thursday and with Norfolk bathed in a glorious bit of April sunshine, my wife and boys, aged six and three, sat outside on one of the dozen picnic benches.
There was a nice mix of diners, a couple pausing for lunch on a long bike ride, families, friends and lots of couples – and nobody I saw was accompanying their meal with whisky galore.
The menu verges towards the lighter end of the food scale with sandwiches from £6.50, toastie melts from £5.95, light bites from £3.50, jacket potatoes from £5.95 and summer salads from £10.95. Added to this, there are all-day breakfasts and brunches with a St George's Big Breakfast costing £10.95 if you want the biggest fry up on the menu.
In addition there's a Sunday menu (roast beef £13.95, roast pork £11.95) and afternoon tea at £14.95 per person
After ordering at the counter the food arrived in 15 minutes along with the chilled glass bottle of tap water we'd requested.
We ordered three beautifully-presented dishes from the main menu plus a hot dog from the children's menu (£5.95) which came with fries and beans.
I ordered beer-battered catch of the day (£10.95) which was ace. Three strips of succulent fish in a golden crispy light batter topped with a squeeze of lemon was gone in a flash with a nice dab of tartare sauce on the side, small pot of gorgeous crushed minted peas and the real showstopper - the beef dripping fries which were among the best chips I've ever tasted at a restaurant.
They really were sublime – fluffy chips glistening in the sun with beef dripping, just so inviting. My six-year-old son inhaled his in record time and said they were the best chips he'd ever had.
Being six and a recent convert to Man vs Food reruns on the TV, he's done with the children's menus and insisted in taking on the St George's classic burger (£10.95) which was served in a brioche bun with Monterey Jack cheese and English Whisky red onion chutney and came on a wooden board, which he thought looked like a cricket bat, and a small pot of coleslaw.
I commandeered a chunk of it for review purposes – it was lovely. A real beef hit, the inch-high patty was cheekily laced with mustard seeds which gave it a slight punch.
My wife went for chargrilled butterfly chicken (£12.95) which was served with a lemon and roasted garlic cream sauce and the amazing yet ubiquitous beef dripping fries. There were no problems at all – it was a beautifully cooked piece of chicken with a lovely light sauce.
The only observation was that those fries, as lovely as they were, seemed to be a part of every dish. We did notice sweet potato fries for £3 on the menu so perhaps it might be nice to have those as an option with the main dishes.
Alas, when dining with children there is always a drama, and just before planning to order dessert my six-year-old son's wobbly front tooth came out.
With a tissue held to his mouth and tears in his eyes, we decided it would be better to leave, so we didn't get around exploring the £6.95 pudding menu which included English whisky and vanilla crème brulee, homemade chocolate and cranberry brownie and a delicious-sounding lemon curd cheesecake.
If the desserts are anywhere near as good as the main course, I'll certainly be back.
IN SUMMARY: Setting
A mile off the A11 near Snetterton, it's well signposted. The Kitchen is open from 9am-5pm.
Ultra cool surroundings. Slick shop, nice industrial feel to restaurant. Neat outside terrace.
Lovely attentive staff, couldn't have been better.
A tad on the pricey side. I had a 330ml bottle of Peroni which was £3.95, while the children each had an orange juice which was around the £3 mark. There are plenty of whisky options which are £4 for 25ml.
Clean, smart and home to the most powerful hand drier I've ever used. It's like a jet engine.
Fairly small car park outside, I imagine on busy days it could be a little tricky to get a space.
£53.55 for three adult meals, a child's meal and four drinks. Main courses seemed reasonable, drinks a touch on the pricey side if I was being ultra critical.
Three words: Beef. Dripping. Fries. They were sensational.
Don't be put off by the whisky factor. Like me, you'll enjoy it even if you don't like the drink. The Kitchen is a lovely, airy, modern building and eating here is a pleasure. The menu has enough options for any food fan and the restaurant is perfect for families too.
I'd often thought about eating here but was probably put off by the fact that it would be all about whisky. Don't worry, it's not. It is a lovely culinary experience, The Kitchen is a real asset to south Norfolk dining – if you're in the vicinity and peckish, I heartily recommend you give it a go.
It's possibly the best kept dining secret in Norfolk.