Weather-beaten is the best way of describing our look as we arrived at The Jolly Sailors in Brancaster Staithe on Saturday. 

We’d just tackled a four-mile walk, and had been tailed by the thick, freezing rolling fog that was starting to creep and settle across the county. 

Pink about the cheeks, we stepped over the threshold (where there’s handy wheelchair/buggy access) and into a covered outdoor dining space, complete with heaters. A water station for visiting pooches was waiting by the door (with a note that there are snacks waiting for them at the bar), and we spied a play area for children in the large, outside beer garden. 

Eastern Daily Press:

Eastern Daily Press:

The ‘pub proper’ has a touch of smuggler’s haunt about it – all white-washed painted stone walls, brick and beam. We had to resist the urge to run over and warm our bottoms against the open fire! 

Instead, the bar manager was at hand to imbibe us with a bit of booze. There is a huge range of rums on offer here (at least 40), and a list of rum cocktails, as well as a rum of the month. 

A pretty decent selection actually, and hugely appreciated by this rum lover – I never really caught on to the gin trend. 

I spied everything from Kraken to Foursquare, to Project 173’s Gingerbread Rum, and the eye-catching, devilish bottle of Fallen Angel. 

There were some locals too – I had a sample of Nelson’s Blood, drawn in by the name. “That’s made by our general manager,” the friendly bar manager told us. A good drop it was too. Sweet and caramelly with a big dose of clove spice. Ideal for drinking neat over ice, or with a dash of coke. 

Eastern Daily Press:

My husband had tried and failed to order a pint of the pub’s (Brancaster Brewery) seasonal bitter, Brewdolph, the night before at another spot. It's obviously proving popular as they had to change the barrel on our visit to the Sailors. 

It was worth the wait, he told me. A dark beer, veering into ruby territory, it had a resinous, piney flavour, smooth, thick, creamy mouthfeel, and a bitter, malty finish. Just the thing to stick hairs on the chest in this inclement weather. 

As the bar was packed, we navigated our way to the main, modern dining rooms, where there was a gentle sea/boating theme, and plenty of light flooding in through a multitude of windows. 

Eastern Daily Press:

The menu is split into light bites, baguettes and Jolly Classics. All simple pub fare. Nothing twee or pretentious. In fact, the member of staff who served us said that’s exactly the idea. In a part of Norfolk brimming with gastropubs, Michelin-starred and Rosette-awarded restaurants, it can be hard to find decent food at a price families can afford. The Jolly Sailors has set its price point very reasonably for this part of the coast. 

I started with a quarter pint of shell-on prawns (£7), licked with smoked from their onsite smokehouse and served simply with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over. Delicious. 

Eastern Daily Press:

Eastern Daily Press:

Mr J began with a bowl of crispy chicken tenders (£8) which fit the bill for defrosting his hands and face with a smack of spice in the very crunchy shell, coating soft, juicy pieces of chicken. 

The pub is known for its pizzas, with the option to dabble with your own choice of toppings...or select one of their specialities, including the delicious-sounding Jolly Taco, covered in smokehouse chilli venison, mozzarella, red onion, fresh tomatoes, jalapenos, crushed tacos and sour cream. 

We decided to go off-piste, adding the smokehouse’s pulled pork to their three-cheese pizza (£13). I’m never really sure about pub pizzas. And while this one wasn’t quite what you’d expect to find in Italy, it was absolutely delicious. A thin, very crispy dough that stood up to its toppings. A sweet sauce tempered by a savoury blend of mozzarella, Parmesan and Cheddar. And smoky, fall-apart-soft pulled pork. We had to take some home in a box (note, everything on the menu here can be a take away) and it was still very tasty later on in the day, eaten cold. 

Eastern Daily Press:

From a Classics menu that included a marrow bone beef burger, fish and chips and gammon, egg and chips, we also chose the Jolly Chicken Curry (£14) which came with loads of rice, a fresh poppadom and a pot of mango chutney. 

The portion was enormous. Loads and loads of proper chicken (not that flabby, water-injected stuff you sometimes find in pubs), cut into big chunks, bathed in a medium hot, slightly tangy sauce which tasted like it had a hint of coconut about it. 

I struggled to finish this. And I’ve got a big stomach, believe me. 

We really didn’t need dessert – does anyone?- but decided we probably should try at least one of the offerings from the short list.  

Eastern Daily Press:

The homemade chocolate brownie (£7.50) was slightly over nuked in the microwave and had lost a bit of moisture, but was fudgy, with a crisp top and decent chocolate flavour. I personally found it a little sweet, but I prefer my brownies on the darker side. But I think the average Joe would be more than happy with it – Mr J didn’t have a problem finishing it up! 

If you’re out for a winter walk in north Norfolk over the next few weeks, and want a proper pub lunch, somewhere that won’t break the bank, welcomes children, and loves dogs, The Jolly Sailors definitely fits the bill. 

The pub serves food from 12noon to 9pm Monday to Saturday, and from 12noon to 6pm Sunday. 

To find out more, and for bookings, go to