Crostwick: White Horse
Sir Alfred Munnings famously visited, writing about it in his memoirs. And our very own SARAH BREALEY admires the menu and the decor at the White Horse in Crostwick.
I don't know if I have seen lobster thermidor on the same menu as a burger before. If ever the phrase 'something for everyone' was amply demonstrated by a pub menu, this is it.
The White Horse at Crostwick serves fish and chips, seafood lasagne, crab cakes and grilled sea bream. Then there are pies, spaghetti bolognaise, beef goulash, roast dinners, venison casserole, roast duck...and many more besides. I am sometimes sceptical of long menus (too many dishes can make it hard to do any of them well), but the White Horse seems to carry it off quite successfully.
It is a fair-sized pub with a characterful interior, divided up into lots of smaller spaces and decorated with all kinds of things: chamberpots, model London buses and vintage ticket machines, to name but a few. There are plenty of tables outside, with parasols to keep off the sun.
I noticed a reasonable wine selection, but there were also four or five real ales. The Real Ale Drinker enjoyed Black Sheep from Yorkshire, which you don't see often in these parts, but there was Wherry and Adnams too.
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I started with cheese fondue, while the Real Ale Drinker had dressed crab. The fondue was slightly different to my expectations. A traditional fondue is nearly all cheese, with maybe a touch of cornflour to stabilise it and perhaps a splash of brandy or similar. This was more like a cheesy sauce seasoned with herbs, similar perhaps to what you might make for a Welsh rarebit. But no matter, it was still very tasty.
The crab was no more and no less than a dressed Cromer crab, served with a lemon wedge, salad garnish and tartare sauce that tasted home-made.
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Next was a decent mushroom lasagne with spinach and tomato sauce, topped with a mustardy cheesy sauce. I passed up the opportunity of a 'full salad' and had chips instead, though it still came with a bit of salad as well as the rather nice, chunky chips. You can get a pint of chips as a side order, which I think is a rather nice idea.
The Real Ale Drinker had lamb's liver in olive sauce, served on root vegetable mash. It was generous in quantity and quite tasty, though he would have preferred a bit less sauce. I was intrigued by the olive sauce, though it seemed more tomatoey in reality, with onions and even carrots in it.
We were in agonies of indecision over dessert, where there is again a large selection. As we were both too full to do more than share one, the strawberry and walnut sponge had to wait for another day, while we tried the orange trifle. It was nothing fancy, just a real old-fashioned trifle like my grandmother used to make: jelly (this was the bottom layer, though – surely everyone knows the sponge is supposed to go in the bottom?), then sponge, fruit, custard and whipped cream.
Meanwhile I was marvelling from afar at the Eton Mess, where the variety of fruit used changes regularly. This classic meringue dessert is usually made with strawberries. Now I have had it with raspberries and it was excellent, but I wouldn't ring the changes any more than that. But here was an Eton Mess with pineapple and ginger. As I was pondering this aberration, the specials menu changed and it became Eton Mess with melon, pomegranate and cider sauce. I only wish I had tried it, just to be able to tell you what it was like. Probably very nice, really — I suppose it is the same ingredients as a pavlova, and they work well with all kinds of fillings. But why call it an Eton Mess?
'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's dinner,' the Real Ale Drinker admonished me as I eyed the vegetable risotto at the next table. Actually, I was observing the conversation - the gentleman of the couple was amusing me by declaring that he didn't like vegetables (the risotto was hers). A modern Jack Spratt and his wife, really. But if Mr and Mrs Spratt were to arrive in Norwich, it seems safe to say that they would both find something they liked at the White Horse.
North Walsham Road
Open: Mon-Sat 9am-6pm
Prices: Mains from �8.95, steaks �9.95-�14.95
Vegetarian options: Reasonable
Wheelchair access: Yes, but tight.