King's Lynn: Bradley's Wine Bar and Rest
Don Rutherford and partner Julie Swaby spent a year converting the three-storey Georgian merchant's house on the Great Ouse waterfront.
Toto followed the Yellow Brick Road, Lassie came home and the Littlest Hobo just kept moving on. And Bradley, a prized black labrador, thankfully stayed put to give us a very enjoyable lunch at his eponymous wine bar in King's Lynn.
He may not be as famous as other hounds that have stamped their pawprint on history, but Bradley's owners ensured his name lives on by hanging it above the door of their upmarket eaterie.
Don Rutherford and partner Julie Swaby spent last year converting the three-storey Georgian merchant's house on the Great Ouse waterfront and thought Bradley, the name of their stud pedigree labrador, had just the right ring to it.
And it certainly proved the perfect spot for my friend and I when we needed a long overdue dose of lunchtime gossip.
We didn't fancy going for the usual cheap meal deal at one of our chain pub haunts, and instead decided to treat ourselves to something a little classier.
We pondered over whether to join other Bradley's customers at the attractive tables decked with dark green umbrellas on the quayside, or in the enclosed courtyard at the back, but opted for a quiet spot in the cool interior.
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- 3 'He could've gone all the way' - Mum's tribute to aspiring boxer, 19
- 4 'It's just not viable anymore' - Pub near Great Yarmouth closes
- 5 Readers reveal top 10 fish and chips - but the battle is on for top spot
- 6 Tyson Fury is making a comeback to Gorleston
- 7 Two Norfolk spots named among best places in Britain for a weekend break
- 8 Star-studded line-up announced for free Norfolk festival
- 9 Person banned from driving arrested after crashing into pedestrian crossing
- 10 Lloyds to close bank in Norwich suburb
It is all very civilised and refined - dark wood furniture, Chesterfield-style sofas, vases of lilies and muted walls hung with original paintings of coastal scenes.
There is also a rather fancy restaurant upstairs, but we were here for an hour's lunch and wanted more of a snack.
Bradley's has a very good choice of bar food that offers something for all appetites and tastes. There are plenty of paninis, but also traditional favourites like beer battered cod and chips, to salads, pasta and vegetarian options.
Our smartly-dressed waiter brought us our menus and a large bottle of chilled sparkling mineral water, which quenched our thirst while we nattered.
Unfortunately this was not the time to sample Bradley's extensive wine list, which is, of course, one of its main selling points.
It even has its own wine society, which at the time of our visit was about to host an evening of sampling Old World vs New World wines, while an introduction to Australian wines is pencilled in for next month.
Stopping the chatter long enough to make our choices proved tricky, but eventually I went for the aubergine stack (£8.50).
This combined a kind of ratatouille, aubergines and mozzarella in two squat pillars, with basmati rice and a side salad.
It had a really herby, Mediterranean feel to it, with the added bonus of probably counting as at least two of my five-a-day.
My friend chose a halloumi and roasted vegetable panini (£4.95), which comes with its own side salad, and was further swayed by the waiter's suggestion of a portion of chips (£1).
These were particularly impressive and almost a meal in themselves - large, chunky, crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle. The panini proved the perfect lunchtime snack and the small accompanying salad was fresh, crisp and altogether more appealing than the tired cucumber and brown-tinged lettuce that often constitutes a garnish.
Sadly, we were both clock-watching and drained one last refill from our large cafetierre of coffee then scooted off for an afternoon back at the office.
I returned with my parents soon after, though, and my mum extolled that the plump scampi and those gorgeous chips were the best she had tasted in a very long time.
So, rather like Pickles uncovering the World Cup (or maybe not at all, but I can't resist a quick mention of another famous mutt) we'd finally found a gem to tempt us away from those rushed, disappointing meals at the local.
Because you've got to hand it to that hound Bradley - our tasty lunch was certainly no dog's dinner.
t Bradley's Wine Bar and Restaurant, 10 South Quay, King's Lynn; 01553 819888; www.bradleysbytheriver.co.uk
t How do I get there? Follow the signs to old Lynn, which should lead you on to South Quay, where Bradleys looks out on to the Ouse.
t Can I park nearby? Parking is free along South Quay, which means spaces are often hard to come by during the day. If so, there are at least a couple of pay and displays within easy reach - try Baker Lane or Saturday Market Place.
t Wheelchair access and disabled toilet? Yes
t Can I smoke? No, Bradleys is a non-smoking venue.