It was named one of the best destination pubs in the UK, but is it worth travelling for?
- Credit: Archant
Nestled in a quiet village off the A47, Louisa Baldwin headed to the Honingham Buck to find out if it is worth the journey.
The Honingham Buck recently reached the finals of the Muddy Stilettos best destination pub award, which celebrates local businesses across the UK, and sous chef David Lovett was also one of the finalists in the chef of the year category in the Norfolk Food and Drink Awards 2019.
Although they narrowly missed out on both, The Honingham Buck has been creating a buzz across the county since it re-opened under new ownership in 2015 with Henry Watt, behind The Wilderbeest in Stoke Holy Cross, in partnership with Yarmouth-based Lacons Brewery.
Stepping through the door with my boyfriend on a Monday evening, which was surprisingly busy, we were met with a warm welcome and seated in the dining area and presented a menu which changes monthly to keep things fresh.
To start we shared the crispy fried chicken with Thai slaw and homemade dipping sauce (£6.95) and haddock fish cakes with fennel remoulade, watercress aioli and mixed cress (£5.95).
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I could easily have eaten another portion of the chicken, which would make Colonel Sanders weep into his KFC bargain bucket, and the knobbly, crispy coating was moreish around the tender chicken and combined perfectly with the crunchy vegetables and the dipping sauce was an explosion of flavour, with a refreshing blend of chili and spring onion.
The haddock fishcakes were bite-sized nuggets packed with plenty of fish combined with creamy mash and packed a punch when slathered with the tangy remoulade and aioli.
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For my main course I had the Buck beef burger with Norfolk smoked dapple cheese, tomato relish, pickled red pepper and courgettes and hand-cut chips (£12.95).
The homemade burger had a beautiful flavour and I could taste the high quality of the beef, which was well seasoned and had just the right amount of red in the middle.
The melted, smokey cheese was delicious and oozed out the sides and was topped with a sweet relish and served with Jenga brick chips which were very crispy.
My boyfriend had the 14-hour roasted belly of pork, pork croquette, savoy cabbage, dauphinoise potato, beetroot, black pudding, raspberry, jus (£15.95).
As he had a dairy intolerance, the chefs swapped dauphinoise for parmentier potatoes and the dish was a kaleidoscope of colour and textures and looked incredibly inviting.
The slab of pork belly was the star of the show and was slow-cooked to perfection with crispy, golden-brown skin and pork that pulled away from the fork with ease and melted in the mouth.
It combined wonderfully with the earthy beetroot, rich wine gravy, light raspberry sauce, crispy croquette and seasoned vegetables.
For dessert, I opted for the Eton Mess (£6.95) which had simple presentation in a globe-shaped bowl and was filled with crunchy meringue and sweet strawberries.
Due to my partner's intolerance, he would have only been able to eat the sorbet, but the waitress told him that the chefs were going to create a new dessert for him which included sorbet, figs and honeycomb and he said it was delicious and was glad he didn't have to miss out.
I genuinely couldn't fault anything about the food which saw crowd-pleasing, traditional dishes given a modern and stylish twist and it was also packed with Norfolk ingredients.
It is set in the quaint village of Honingham, which is around a 20 minute drive from Norwich along the A47, and has lots of character and is opposite a blacksmith and a phone box which has been turned into a mini-library.
It felt like a real gamekeeper's pub with an open fireplace, wooden beams across low ceilings and artwork of foxes and game birds on the walls.
It was also great to see the dining area so busy on a Monday night, so I can only imagine how busy they get at weekends.
The service was absolutely superb - the waitress Jessica had to look after quite a lot of tables but was polite and knowledgeable throughout the meal and there was a good length of time between courses.
She also made sure to check with the chefs about allergens for each course and we could tell that she enjoyed working at the pub.
The historic 17th century coaching inn offers a great range of award-winning ales from Lacons Brewery and they also do a brilliant bitter shandy and plenty of soft drinks if you're driving.
The restaurant is all on ground level so there would be no accessibility issues.
They were completely spotless and had quirky decor with wallpaper covered in pictures of birds, flowers and plants.
Plenty of free parking at the front and rear of the restaurant.
For three courses for two with a drink it cost £60.40 which we felt was a fair price for the quality of the food and portion size.
The staff going that extra mile and making a completely new dessert so my boyfriend wasn't just stuck with sorbet.
You wouldn't just pass through and visit the Honingham Buck, but this destination pub is definitely worth travelling for.
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.