The Good Pub Guide named it the best in Norfolk, but is the title deserved?
PUBLISHED: 12:09 30 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:19 30 July 2019
After being judged the best dining pub in Norfolk in the Good Pub Guide 2019, Louisa Baldwin visited the Kings Head gastropub to see if it is worthy of the crown.
Hailed as a hidden gem by locals, nestled in the picturesque village of Bawburgh on the outskirts of Norwich, the Kings Head head has won a whole host of awards over its 30 year history with owner Anton Wimmer and his family at the helm.
As well as its Good Pub Guide award, the 17th century pub was also one of the 16 Norfolk spots that made it into the AA Pub Guide 2020 and retained its 2 AA rosettes for culinary excellence back in October.
With this in mind, I was excited to visit and as we entered the pub we were met with wooden beams and open fireplaces which made my boyfriend and I immediately feel relaxed and, despite the fine dining menu, there wasn't any pretence in the decor.
We were presented with the menu, which also included a list of specials, and there was also a section listing the VIPs (Very Important Producers) and what was sourced from there - it was clear from the start that the Kings Head menu is rooted in Norfolk.
To start we shared a smoked haddock kedgeree, with spinach and poached egg (£8) and the egg was done perfectly with a rich, yellow yolk that oozed out and was an explosion of flavour as it flowed into the kedgeree which was well-balanced and first hit you with cream and then tangy spice.
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For our main course, we shared the Charcuterie deli platter, which was £18 and included marinated olives, hot chorizo, parma harm, bresaola, which is an aged salted beef, chilli feta peppers, green egg smoked ham, black bomber cheese, gherkin relish and homemade bread.
The moreish meats and creamy, crumbly cheese transported me to an al fresco meal in Italy and the green egg smoked ham, which describes the cooking method, was outstanding and was complimented with the tangy and sweet gherkin relish.
I usually enjoy feta-stuffed peppers but found them too salty for my taste and would have preferred if sweeter roquito peppers were used instead.
We also ordered the glazed duck breast dish for £19 which was beautifully presented and the tipi of duck slabs and croquette was resting on a bed of rich and sweet hoisin sauce puree, crunchy spring onion, soft tenderstem brocolli and a sweet potato fondant which was a delightful disc packed with seasoning.
The duck was perfectly cooked, with still a bit of quack, and the skin perfectly crispy but the real star of the show was the croquette which tasted like the best crispy duck and pancake I had ever had and the variety of textures in the dish was excellent.
READ MORE: The best pubs in Norfolk - according to the AA Pub Guide 2020
For dessert I had the peach melba for £8, however I felt the peach frangipani, despite being pleasant and well-baked, lacked the punch of peach I had hoped for.
Thankfully, the rest of the dish was a fruit bowl of flavour with sweet poached peach, creamy raspberry parfait, strawberries and blackberries and the caramelized marzipan tasted like cookie dough nuggets.
My boyfriend had the Mars chocolate slice on the specials menu for £8 which was indulgent and tasted surprisingly light and came with honeycomb ice cream with crunchy pieces running through.
A short drive from Norwich, the Kings Head is the perfect spot for a meal outside the hustle and bustle of the city. There is also a large grassy area and benches alongside the river outside the pub and it is a very peaceful village.
It was great to see the pub packed on a Monday night and there is also a large beer garden with plenty of flowers, riverside view and it a real suntrap too.
The serving staff were knowledgeable, welcoming and very polite, however as hard as they were all working I felt like they probably needed an extra pair of hands.
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There was around four waiting staff serving the whole pub and it was a warm evening so we had to wait quite a while to get our dessert menus and bill.
An extensive wine range starting at £3.30 a glass, champagne by the glass from Adnams and a varied offering of beers, spirits and soft drinks.
All the pub is set on one level and the tables are well spaced out with a small step up to the toilets.
There is a single toilet for each gender, which I can imagine could get busy on a Friday or Saturday night, which was very clean.
A large car park located at the back of the restaurant and I don't think you would ever have a problem getting a space.
The food is at the pricer end but you get what you pay for as the dishes are packed with locally-sourced, quality ingredients. It cost £68.20 for two with soft drinks, one starter to share, two mains and two desserts.
The duck dish was beautifully presented and cooked and I was spooning off the hoisin sauce puree until the plate was clean.
An innovative twist on British classic dishes and Norfolk produce is the star of the menu.
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.
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