Review: It reopened earlier this year - but what is this hotel’s new themed menu like?
- Credit: Archant
It reopened earlier this year as a boutique hotel and restaurant. Lauren Cope visited The Hog Hotel on the Suffolk coast to enjoy a taste of Greek flavours.
Living in east Norwich, a stone's throw from the Broads, Lowestoft rarely makes it onto the day trip list.
But the lure of Greek food, in particular the promise of melt-in-the-mouth lamb kleftico, earned it a spot.
The Hog Hotel has a unique concept - its Taste menus change monthly and focus on a different part of the world, inspired by its owners' love of travel.
July's destination was Venice, August's is Greece and future culinary tours include Goa, Argentina and Mexico City.
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For £39.50 you can have four courses - starter, mid, main and pudding - and for £45 you'll receive an additional morsel between your mid and main.
Keen to review (and eat) as much as possible, we went for one four-course and one five.
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There are two starter options - dolmades (vine leaves stuffed with minced lamb and rice) and spanakopita (two spinach, mint and feta filo parcels).
The dolmades were nice, with a citrusy flavour to the leaves and the comforting flavours of rice and lamb inside (mine was fairly lamb heavy, my partner's less so), but the spanakopita emerged victorious.
It was unlikely that melted cheese in pastry would go too far wrong, but the pastry was crispy, light and buttery, and generously filled with strong cheese and mint. I was slightly surly I had to share.
The mid course, a platter of tzatziki and hummus with flatbreads and an oregano-marinated Greek salad, is intended for sharing.
It was a smorgasbord of Greek flavours, tangy, crumbly feta, fresh, crunchy onion and minty tzatziki.
The hummus was a highlight, smooth, flavoursome and obviously home-made, and the portion of warm flatbread was generous.
For our optional course, we plumped for the moussaka (the other option was gigantes plaki - butter beans in tomato sauce with thinly-sliced toast), which had an intensely rich béchamel sauce, which I would have happily mopped up with more flatbread.
Our mains were an easy choice - while I was tempted by the fried red mullet (the vegetarian option is tomatakla gemista - baked and stuffed tomatoes), it's hard to resist the promise of lamb kleftico.
The lamb was fall apart tender, crisp on the outside and the sauce it sat in was sweet, rich and well-portioned - any more and it would have become sickly.
Grilled aubergine, courgette and squash arrived in the middle and it was served with two roasted potatoes (I'd have liked a little more crisp).
It was a hugely satisfying main dish, and at this point we (read: me) were slightly tipsy and incredibly full.
But the fixed menu meant we ploughed on, ordering the portokalopita - a Greek yoghurt cake with orange syrup.
It's a juicy, dense sponge, with sweet orange syrup and served with a yoghurt ice cream, my favourite part.
The other option was halva pudding, spiced semolina with almonds, served with Greek yoghurt (in my books, semolina should win an award for the least appetising word of all time, closely followed by moist).
If you're still hungry, you can follow it all with a selection of Greek cheese (£8.50, or £6.50 if you fancy having it instead of dessert).
In hindsight, I'm not sure we needed our optional course, but we left full, content and keen to book a Greek island-hopping holiday.
You can tell a pretty penny has been spent revamping the hotel. It's modern, clean and newly-decorated throughout. The colours are bright and vibrant and we enjoyed having a drink in the bar before dinner. There are hedgehogs everywhere you look - a nod to the owners' father, who was very fond of the prickly creatures.
I arrived straight from work in smart(ish) attire, my partner wore jeans and a family celebrating an occasion were dressed up. It's fancy without being pompous, and very relaxed. As we finished our meal we would have been more than happy to retire to a room upstairs.
Really good. A highlight, in fact. Our waitress was lovely, knowledgeable and attentive without being pushy. Both she and the woman behind the bar asked if we were local, and how we'd heard about the hotel.
My partner was impressed by the variety of beers on offer, and I had plenty to choose from in terms of spirits and wine. I ended up having two glasses of the house rosé, which was sweet and mellow. The drinks menu is adapted to fit its monthly theme, so there were also Greek wines, beer and cocktails (yes, some did include ouzo and raki).
The restaurant and bar is easily accessible and spacious. The menu makes clear that vegetarian dishes can easily become vegan, and when I booked over the phone I was asked about allergies.
Nicely-decorated and modern, and featuring a fancy hand-drier, if you're impressed by futuristic gadgets. I was told by a fellow diner that the hotel has the hand soaps and creams made specially.
Plenty right outside the hotel. If it happens to fill up, you're a stone's throw from Lowestoft seafront and town centre.
In total, we paid just over £100 for a five-course menu, a four-course menu and three glasses of wine. It's not cheap, but it didn't feel like bad value and we didn't begrudge the price. Alongside their themed menus they offer three-course Sunday roasts for £35 and bar meals (including a burger, posh beans on toast and a club sandwich) ranging from £8 to £14.
I feared that The Hog Hotel would be a case of style over substance, particularly with a menu which flits from Venice to Argentina from one month to the next. But the food was great, portions fair and staff friendly and knowledgeable about the cuisine. I'd definitely recommend a visit, and may even hop on the A47 to try its Argentine menu.
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.