May 19 2013 Latest news:
By alex hurrell
Thursday, November 1, 2012
A tucked-away north Norfolk inn which opened its doors for business just one year ago has been named as Michelin’s Great Britain and Ireland Pub of the Year.
The Gunton Arms, at Thorpe Market, near Cromer, beat more than 550 other contenders to scoop the prestigious award.
Rebecca Burr, editor of Michelin’s Eating Out In Pubs Guide, said the Gunton Arms “has got it all”.
She praised the pub’s “fiercely seasonal food”, deer-park setting, mix of period furnishings and “provocative” modern art, coupled with its ability to cater for overnight guests and restaurant diners as well as those who just wanted a pint of beer and game of darts.
The accolade has thrilled Gunton Arms manager Simone Baker and her partner, Stuart Tattersall, the pub’s head chef, who learned of their success in a phone call from Ms Burr.
“It took my breath away when I realised what she was saying,” said Miss Baker. “I felt quite overwhelmed, and a little bit teary. When we first opened we thought it would be a slow burn. We certainly weren’t expecting instant success.”
The eight-bedroomed pub, owned by London art dealer Ivor Braka, began life as a 19th-century shooting lodge on the surrounding Gunton Park estate, where the Prince of Wales –later King Edward VII – held love trysts with his mistress, Lillie Langtry.
Mr Braka had the neglected building redesigned, winning this year’s North Norfolk District Council Graham Allen Award for quality architecture, and it is decorated with art including works by Tracey Emin.
Miss Baker and Mr Tattersall, who previously worked for top London restaurateur Mark Hix, put their success down to “getting the basics right from day one.”
“Good beer on tap and a great local, seasonal menu instantly won the locals over,” said Mr Tattersall. “I look at what’s on sale on the little stalls outside people’s houses in the villages and know that that’s what should be on the menu.”
Customers also loved to see their meat cooked on a large open fire in the restaurant.
Miss Baker also praised Mr Braka’s keen eye for design. She said: “As soon as you walk in you are engulfed by a feeling of warmth and welcome - half our job is done already.”