Why you might need to book ahead at The Village Maid in Lound

The sea bass at The Village Maid in Lound

The pan fried sea bass fillet with a creamed leek and sweetcorn chowder, green beans and chorizo crisps, at The Village Maid, in Lound. - Credit: Liz Coates

Having heard good things, and as a mid-week treat, we thought we would pop to The Village Maid in Lound.

It was a Wednesday, so no problem we thought. Well, as it turned, out, the only table they had left was at 5.15pm (a bit early) and then it was only for an hour and a half - hopefully long enough to squeeze in three courses.

We were slightly bemused. The place is so out of the way that if the entire village decided to rock up for dinner we imagined there would probably be space.

The Village Maid in Lound

Despite being off the beaten track The Village Maid in Lound seems to have no trouble filling its tables as its reputation for good food spreads. - Credit: Liz Coates

And time was ticking. By the time we had finished work and braved the traffic from north Yarmouth to Lound on the Norfolk/Suffolk border we had lost seven valuable minutes.

Inside the Village Maid in Lound

The Village Maid in Lound is nicely decorated and has a relaxed feel. - Credit: Liz Coates

We were shown to a table for four in the corner, giving us plenty of space. The decor is clean and modern, all grey and white with fairy lights and sofas.


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Things had certainly changed since I was last here about 15 years ago when it was run by a lovely chap called Clive,  the main bar being all patterned carpets and farmhouse furniture.

Today's menu was easily navigated, meaning there was not too much hand-wringing about what to have - basically two pieces of paper, one with a few specials.

Mushroom starter at the Village Maid in Lound.

The creamy wild mushrooms on sourdough toast with sundried tomato and spinach was on the large side for a starter at The Village Maid in Lound. - Credit: Liz Coates

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To start with I opted for creamy wild mushrooms on sourdough toast with sundried tomato and spinach (£7) and it proved to be extremely tasty. The bread was crunchy with no hint of sogginess despite the creaminess of the mushroom sauce. A bite with a burst of tomato was extra gratifying - and overall it took me back to the 1980s when no menu was minus mushrooms.

Scallops at the Village Maid in Lound

The pan seared king scallops with celeriac and apple remoulade, Parma ham and tarragon oil went down a treat with our reviewer. - Credit: Liz Coates

My husband went for that other evergreen classic the scallops, which he declared the best starter he had ever had.

They were described as pan seared king scallops with celeriac and apple remoulade, Parma ham and tarragon oil (£10). They were presented on their own leaving you to judge just how much of the accompaniment you wanted to add.

Paella at the Village Maid in Lound

The pan fried longshore cod loin paella with baby prawns, chorizo, cockle popcorn and crispy leeks at The Village Maid in Lound. - Credit: Liz Coates

For mains my husband had pan fried longshore cod loin paella with baby prawns, chorizo, cockle popcorn and crispy leeks (£17).

It looked amazing, a lovely vibrant yellow but without the chicken which can make it a bit dry.

Quite saucy and not over spicy he said it was a taste sensation, the sauce clinging to every grain of rice, the only minor criticism being that it was a bit light on the chorizo, with only about four pieces.

Sea bass at the Village Maid in Lound

The pan fried sea bass fillet with a creamed leek and sweetcorn chowder, green beans and chorizo crisps was rich and creamy according to our reviewer. - Credit: Liz Coates

Meanwhile I opted for the pan fried sea bass fillet with a creamed leek and sweetcorn chowder, green beans and chorizo crisps (£17).

Again this was delicious. The new potatoes and green beans were perfectly cooked, as was the fish. The chorizo crisps were a beautiful addition in terms of colour, texture and taste.

After the creaminess of the mushrooms it was also very rich, and in both cases the temptation to run my finger round the dish sopping up every last smear of sauce was hard to resist.

Custard tart with sorbet at the Village Maid in Lound.

The mango and passionfruit custard tart with coconut Italian meringue and raspberry sorbet was 'refreshing' according to our reviewer. - Credit: Liz Coates

We really didn't need a dessert but they all sounded wonderful. We opted to share the mango and passionfruit custard tart with coconut Italian meringue and raspberry sorbet (£7) - tangy and refreshing, it hit the spot perfectly.

By this time the restaurant was full and our time was up, not that we were rushed or asked to go.

The staff were attentive and you never had to vie for their attention.

If anything they were a tiny bit over watchful, asking us around four times if we wanted any more drinks - but that's a minor quibble. As we left at 6.45pm we were surprised to see many of the outside tables taken too, on an evening when it was definitely coat-wearing weather.

While pubs in bigger communities are struggling, this one in the middle of nowhere looks to have hit on a formula that works and people are prepared to travel for - even on a Wednesday.

The Village Maid is at 71 The Street,  Lound, NR32 5LP,  01502 730441.

Setting

Easy to find on the main street opposite the village pond. There is a large car park at the back and some outside tables.

Staff were friendly and welcoming. I tried to book online but it didn't work for me and had to telephone instead.

Both on the phone and at the restaurant they asked about allergies and dietary requirements which I found reassuring.

Value

We paid £66.25 which included a pint of East Coast (£4), half a Corona (£2.35) and a Diet Coke (£1.90) which we thought was pretty decent. The mains at £17 were particularly good value.

My next dish

Not something I would usually go for but the southern fried chicken in a bucket looked amazing as did the beetroot, coconut and cashew curry.

Accessible

Nice and spacious downstairs and has ground floor entry. Very conscientious with allergens.

If you like this try

The White Swan in Great Yarmouth where the tremendous fish dishes feel a bit special.

- The Rose and Crown in Snettisham, another village pub which had also found a winning formula and is never empty.

- The Bure River Cottage restaurant in Horning, which prides itself on its fresh seafood dishes. 

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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