The farm shop Sunday roast that's hard to beat
- Credit: Liz Coates
One of the few good things about winter is the weekend warmer of a Sunday roast.
Served in pubs, restaurants and cafes across the land, a farm shop should come up with the goods with bells on, right?
Meat and vegetables are their modus operandi and I wasn't seeking anything too fancy with a weird twist, just your traditional roast done right and veg heavy.
That was my thinking as we headed to Hirst's Farm Shop in Ormesby, north of Great Yarmouth, and expectations were high.
Hirst's is one of the successes of the pandemic. When the virus hit the family was about to throw in the towel and focus on other areas of their farm business, which includes Hirsty's fun park and outdoor cinema.
Classed as an essential retailer, it suddenly saw demand soar and consequently was back in the game with a winning hand.
The new offer sees tonnes more choice with wines, beers, chocolates, green grocers and the relocation of the Dabs 'n' Crabs wet fish shop to the remodelled and expanded site in North Road.
The shop also now has its own cafe which, as you would expect, uses locally sourced, fresh produce - some of which you can see from your table.
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We tried to get in a few weeks before but they were fully booked and when we called again for the following Sunday it was still a squeeze.
Being on a farm there is plenty of space, plenty of parking and walks nearby and to the coast. There are also live animals to see.
The former barn looks pretty from the outside with lovely planting.
Inside the cafe has a rustic, homely feel. There was pumpkin on each table which was a nice, seasonal touch.
On the day we visited I was slightly disappointed that the roast dinner offer (£11.95) was only pork or lamb - my two least favourites, and I'd been hoping to have beef.
My husband, not a roast dinner fan, went for a burger (£10.95), adding a pound each for bacon and onion rings.
When mine arrived it looked the part, with a flourish of glistening, crispy crackling balanced on top of a huge Yorkshire pud.
Underneath I discovered parsnip which was a nice surprise (as I always overcook my own) and red cabbage - adding a bit of daring.
The accompanying other veg were whole mini carrots, long stem broccoli and cauliflower cheese - a big portion, too.
No flights-of-fancy departures from what anyone would hope for or expect, but with enough flair and drama to make it interesting.
I was definitely impressed.
The Yorkshire pudding was crispy and fluffy on the inside, as were the roast potatoes. Extra gravy was provided but not needed, and while pork isn't my favourite it was tasty.
Meanwhile my husband said he enjoyed his burger which was super meaty and filling.
However, he said the onion rings could have been more crispy. His meal came with chips and coleslaw, which looked pink and lovely.
The menu is compact and although there is a vegetarian, vegan and fish option I think a veggie roast would have been good to have on there too.
For dessert we had a Biscoff Sundae (£4.95) and warm triple chocolate brownie with honeycomb ice cream and chocolate sauce (£5.95).
Both were lovely, the sundae was perfect for after a roast and the brownie came with a good dollop of ice-cream, not just an ornamental scoop which seems the case at some places.
All the staff were friendly and smiley and overall it was a lovely dining experience.
Hirst's Farm Shop and Cafe is at Mill Farm, North Road, Ormesby St Margaret, Great Yarmouth NR29 3LE, 01493 731980.
The farm shop is easy to find on the edge of Ormesby and has plenty of parking. There is some outdoor seating. I booked over the phone and the lady was lovely. They only had one table left when I called about three days before our visit.
We paid £40 which we thought was more than reasonable. Refreshingly they don't try to fleece you on the drinks. We had soft drinks elderflower and ginger beer, both £2.10 but you can have wine (from £2.75 a glass) or beer (£2.75 or £4) with your meal.
There is also a children's menu.
My next dish
I'm really keen to try the breakfast menu with its Farmer's Fry Up, eggs royale and sugar waffles.
If you like this, try...
The Kings Arms, Great Yarmouth - On Northgate Street, the pub has built up a reputation for a solid Sunday roast among locals.
Duck Inn, Stanhoe - The north Norfolk pub serves up a popular, hearty Sunday roast, including top Yorkshire puddings.
Oaklands, Thorpe St Andrew - As well as an indoor restaurant, outdoor dining area and bar, Oaklands is also home to a shop offering local produce.
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.