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Review: The Station Smokehouse, Hoveton

PUBLISHED: 17:45 29 October 2018

The Whole Hog burger  Picture: Archant

The Whole Hog burger Picture: Archant

Archant

What’s the food like at The Station Smokehouse in Hoveton?

The Texas Two Step  Picture: ArchantThe Texas Two Step Picture: Archant

Food

I’m not going to lie – I was drooling before I even got inside this place. As I stepped out of the car into the carpark on a dreary, flipping freezing Saturday afternoon, I was greeted by the unmistakeable essence of smoked meat on the breeze. A tantalising, bacony waft that had me running (to get out of the rain of course) to the door.

I’ve been trying to go ‘flexitarian’ of late, but even the promise of grilled halloumi from the menu couldn’t deter me from the quite simply outrageous menu of meat, cooked over a ‘live fire pit’ (it’s a shame you can’t see this from the restaurant).

We did have a giggle at the big roll of kitchen towel on the table in anticipation of meat juices and sauces being strewn about the place. “They must have known you were coming,” my hubby winked at me – such a messy eater my friends often leave restaurants wearing half my dinner.

So to the starters. Well, where to begin? I’m going to dive in with the burnt ends. Thick nuggets of brisket smothered in a rub so dark they resembled lumps of coal. But appearances can deceive. Instead of overpowering the meat, the rub perfectly complemented the fatty nature of the beef, while the smoke gave a fruity, earthy tang to it. Smeared with a touch of house barbecue sauce, these were totally finger-licking-good.

Also sampled were the buttermilk chicken goujons in buffalo sauce. Now these certainly had a naughty bite that was at first sweet before smacking you about the chops with their prickly chilli coating – although they weren’t so hot we couldn’t taste anything else. The chicken pieces were exceedingly juicy, and the batter remained crisp under the sauce, giving up a decent crunch and a hint of rosemary. I could have eaten a bucketful.

The garlic crevettes were a decent size, and their buttery juices were lapped up greedily, however they were just a tad overdone for me. I’d say they needed just 20 seconds less on the wood fire for perfection.

I’ve given my husband the rather unflattering nickname of The Burger King, because he cannot get enough of them and he hand on heart said the burger he ate here (from the specials list of the day) was the best he’s ever eaten – and it didn’t have an ounce of beef in it.

The Whole Hog Burger crammed a succulent and not-too-salty pork burger inside a pretzel bun with dirty mayonnaise, caramelised edged bacon, crispy onions, barbecue sauce, pickles, lettuce, sweet pulled pork and a gigantic smoked sausage. Factor in the fries on the side and this was a monster of a lunch. It’s so hard to cook a pork burger that isn’t dry or overseasoned but theirs was just to die for. And the sausage – my goodness that was flipping gorgeous. Apparently all the meats on the menu are from Hazells butchers and were clearly good quality. I particularly liked the briny house pickles and the almost fruity, mustardy mayonnaise which took the burger to another level.

Although I was supremely jealous of hubby’s order, I revelled in my own lunch of The Texas Two Step, where I could choose two out of a selection of meats to come alongside fries, charred corn and slaw.

For me it had to be the quarter of smoked chicken (available with hot sauce or barbecue sauce) and the thick St Louis cut meaty ribs. The chicken was beautiful in its smoking. The woody notes were there but didn’t overpower at all the sweet, gamey flesh of the bird. And the hot sauce smeared over the top only added to the overall yumminess. The ribs were pretty darn good too, offering up generous pullings of meat, all glazed in the sweet, interestingly seasoned barbecue sauce (I can taste it now).

We really didn’t have room for dessert but indulged anyway because we just had to try the homemade Twix and chocolate cookie. This was a beast of a thing, made for sharing. Served simply, topped with lashings of chocolate and caramel sauce, and a silky caramel ice cream, the warm, buttery cookie pulled apart to reveal thick chunks of chocolatey goodness. This was ‘naughty but nice’ at its best. The kind of dessert you feel a bit ashamed of eating!

Drinks

There’s a decent craft gin and vodka list to pick from but I was sold on a glass of house Malbec which wasn’t as ripe and jammy as I’d have liked but did the trick. There’s a good array of craft beer too, including several on tap, so you’re sure to find something to tickle your fancy.

Ambiance

This has to be one of the coolest places to eat on the British railway system – surely? Found right by the Wroxham/Hoveton Station tracks in the former station house this is undeniably one of the quirkiest restaurants in Norfolk. They haven’t gone overboard on the décor on the interior, which is laid out as a train carriage, but instead have some tasteful nods to the railway, such as strips of bulbous globe lights set against copper fixtures.

Service

Friendly, accommodating and eager to please.

Price

Garlic crevettes £7, goujons £6, burnt ends £6, Texas Two Step £18, special burger £18, 175ml measure of Malbec £5.75, Coke £2.50, Cookie dessert £6.50

Parking

There’s a small car park close to the restaurant and Roys car park is also a short walk (2 minutes) away.

Highlight

That burger. It was a behemoth that more than delivered on flavour.

Summary

We’ve tried to eat at this restaurant multiple times in the high season but it’s always been fully booked – and now we know why. If you’ve been to the States and have a hankering for Man Vs Food, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives style plates of total yum, I recommend giving them a call and booking a table – especially now as we are coming into the less busy months tourist-wise.

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