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‘Perfect spot for a lazy summer lunch’ - our reviewer’s take on a pub by the coast

PUBLISHED: 06:30 15 August 2020 | UPDATED: 09:17 17 August 2020

The twice-baked crab souffl� at the Wiveton Bell. Picture: Lauren Cope

The twice-baked crab souffl� at the Wiveton Bell. Picture: Lauren Cope

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During a getaway to the north Norfolk coast, Lauren Cope visited an award-winning pub and restaurant for a lazy lunch in the summer sunshine.

Food review at the Wiveton Bell. Photo: Lauren CopeFood review at the Wiveton Bell. Photo: Lauren Cope

Food

We were in the middle of a scorching staycation on the north Norfolk coast when we decided to head out to the Wiveton Bell.

Led by a reassuring mix of word of mouth, online reviews and its Michelin Bib Gourmand status, I was hopeful this would be the winning but often elusive combination of relaxed pub atmosphere and high-end food.

Food review at the Wiveton Bell. Photo: Lauren CopeFood review at the Wiveton Bell. Photo: Lauren Cope

The pub, on Blakeney Road, is beautiful, and we were led out to a marquee at the back - put up to help the restaurant in the new world of social distancing - and browsed the menu.

Keen to enjoy a leisurely holiday lunch, I ordered the twice-baked crab soufflé (£11) to start, while my partner opted for the ham hock and spring onion croquette (£9).

The croquette received a positive review, and in particular the smooth pea ketchup it was served with, but it was the indulgent soufflé that stood out.

Light and fluffy, it sat atop a pool of rich, tomato-based Porthilly sauce, and was finished with sprigs of salty, buttery samphire which cut through the richness. Delicious, and I savoured every mouthful.

Food review at the Wiveton Bell. Photo: Lauren CopeFood review at the Wiveton Bell. Photo: Lauren Cope

For mains we chose classic pub fare, the aged highland beef steak burger, with candied bacon and rarebit (£15) and the barbecue pork ribs (£15).

You probably don’t need me to describe a burger, but I will say it ticked all the boxes - melted cheese, fresh salad and the patty thick, charred and with a real punch of beefy goodness. As much as a cheap, bashed-together burger hits the spot at the right time, this wasn’t that (and nor would you want it to be) - it was proper ingredients and proper flavour.

My only improvement would have been the bun, as it crumbled and ended up a bit sticky. A burger of that quality deserves a sturdier bun.

The ribs were soft, tender and still retained some bite, coated in the sweet tang of barbecue sauce.

Food review at the Wiveton Bell. Photo: Lauren CopeFood review at the Wiveton Bell. Photo: Lauren Cope

A special mention goes to the chips - a feather-light but satisfyingly crisp bite, and pillowy soft inside. Delicious. Probably the best pub chips I’ve had.

At this point, I was full. But I had half a glass of wine left and was on holiday, so dessert was inevitable.

We had the velvety-smooth, roll-your-eyes good dark chocolate tart (£8), with a dollop of salted toffee ice cream, before calling it a day.

Food review at the Wiveton Bell. Photo: Lauren CopeFood review at the Wiveton Bell. Photo: Lauren Cope

MORE: It’s got the views - but is this pub worth travelling to for the food as well?

Setting

Really beautiful. Everything looks better in the sun, and it’s easy to have rose-tinted glasses when looking back on a holiday, but the marquee allowed us to eat outside while sheltering us from the 30C heat. We were some of the first diners there, but it grew busier as the lunch rush went on. The pub itself is gorgeous and I’d love to go back in winter to cosy up inside.

Food review at the Wiveton Bell. Photo: Lauren CopeFood review at the Wiveton Bell. Photo: Lauren Cope

Price

It’s not on the budget end of the scale, with the starters and desserts slightly more pricy than you might expect. Our total bill came to £74 for three drinks, two starters, two mains and a dessert, which for the quality and experience we felt was decent value. Also, it has the little-found Michelin Bib Gourmand status, which means it, firstly, offers a high standard of food and, secondly, has a £28 three-course menu.

The Wiveton Bell. Picture: Ian BurtThe Wiveton Bell. Picture: Ian Burt

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Drinks

I had the Chilean sauvignon blanc (£6 for 175ml) which, with notes of lime and grapefruit, was refreshing and crisp, perfect for a hot summer’s day, while my partner had Moon Gazer Pintail (£4).

Food review at the Wiveton Bell. Photo: Lauren CopeFood review at the Wiveton Bell. Photo: Lauren Cope

Toilets

Separate loos for men and women, clean and nicely decorated.

Accessibility

Food review at the Wiveton Bell. Photo: Lauren CopeFood review at the Wiveton Bell. Photo: Lauren Cope

Menus are very clearly marked up with allergens. There are steps up to the marquee but the pub itself is spacious.

Service

Really friendly and chatty (don’t grimace, I mean it in a good way). Our waiter was really helpful.

MORE: Review: Village pub enjoyed by celebrity chef has oodles of charm

Highlight

The food was excellent, and I’d definitely go there for the chips or crab soufflé alone, but the feel of the pub was the winner for me. It was the perfect spot for a lazy lunch, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it anyone heading up that way.

If you like that try these...

1. Recruiting Sergeant, Horstead

In a picturesque part of the county, the Recruiting Sergeant has built itself a solid reputation for excellent food in a relaxed setting.

2. Kings Head, Bawburgh

Joining the Bell with AA rosettes, the Kings Head in Bawburgh has collected a clutch of awards over its 30 years in business.

3. White Horse, Brancaster

With stunning views over the marshes and a mouth-watering menu to boot, the White Horse is a popular choice for food-lovers heading to north Norfolk.

Our food reviews are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on their experience of the venue when they visited. The establishment is not aware of our visit, is not informed we intend to write a review and bills are paid by the reviewer. The choice of places reviewed is also independent and is not based on venues which do or do not advertise in our publications.


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