Burnham Market: Hoste Arms
It's a haunt for holidaying celebrities — but what about the food? SARAH HARDY samples what's on offer at famous North Norfolk foodie destination The Hoste Arms.
The popular Hoste Arms in upmarket Burnham Market is one of the county's best known and most highly regarded dining options. It was certainly one of the first to put Norfolk on the gourmet map and its owner, Paul Whittome, was a great ambassador for the region.
He sadly lost his battle with cancer last summer so his wife, Jeanne, and top-notch team of Emma Tagg and Andrew McPherson have had some big shoes to fill.
How are they getting on? Has the Hoste lost its sparkle?
Well, Paul is a hard act to follow and without a doubt I missed him when I visited with friends for supper over the recent half term holiday. He had a very big personality and certainly lit up any room he entered!
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But the Hoste is still on top form, I can safely report.
It's a buzzy, fun place where people come to see and be seen, of course! You'll catch telly stars, the county's high society and even the odd journalist there but don't imagine it's a stuck-up place — the air is always relaxed and friendly.
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The interior is gorgeous, masses of deep, comfy seats in the conservatory area – try and bag one of the high backed chairs as you'll feel like you're sat on your own personal throne – or hang out in the front bar for a more rough and ready atmosphere.
At the heart of the place is great food and the menu continues to delight. It's never cheap but the accent is on quality with local producers favoured at all times.
Mussels are from the nearby Brancaster marshes, oysters are from the Burnham Creeks and venison from the Holkham Estate. The list goes on.
There's a real accent on shellfish and fish. The oysters are fab — try six of them with a chilli, ginger and soya dressing as a starter to get yourself going at �9.25 while other favourite starters include Thai fish broth at �6.65 and yummy salmon and potato fish cakes priced at �7.30
I often go for the pork tender loin (�19.95) or the steak and kidney pudding (�13.75) but my eye was caught by the half Cajun spring chicken, sweet corn fritters, tomato and avocado salsa, dressed rocket and sour cream and chilli sauce. All for �14.75. It was all very enjoyable and tasty.
My friend had the seared fillet of sea bass, coconut chutney, vegetable spring rolls, and sweet chilli dipping sauce at �17.50 and was equalled pleased.
Other options could have been the Paul Whittome rump steak burger, the New York rib steak which is hung for 21 days and comes in at �39 for two people or we could have both tucked into a Thai green curry, bok choi, baby corn and bean shoots, lemon and coriander rice at �16.15.
A real treat – and please make sure you leave room – is the splendid pudding menu. I'd recommend the assiette which includes champagne sorbet, sticky toffee pudding, chocolate fondant, orange cr�me brulee, treacle tart and clotted cream and comes in at �14.95 for two to share.
It is very decadent but so thoroughly enjoyable!
Children have their own short but sweet menu with favourites such as fish and chips, posh sausages, pasta and more and the wine list is probably one of the most extensive in the country let alone the county.
My rather unadventurous pinot grigio was very nice! Look out for decent real ales such as the ever popular Adnams.
Many people like to sup their pint at the front of the pub, watching the world go by, while the Moroccan garden at the rear is stunning for eating or simply enjoying a glass of fizz as the weather improves.
So, the Hoste continues — let's hope Paul is looking down on us all with pleasure – and pride!
The Hoste Arms
Prices: Starters from �5.50, mains from �12.75, desserts from �6.75
Vegetarian options: Plenty
Wheelchair access: Yes