Wymondham: Station Bistro
The Brief Encounter restaurant at Wymondham station has long been a nostalgic favourite, But the retirement of David Turner has seen the arrival of a new era. SARAH HARDY visits a newly-renamed Norfolk favourite.
The charming Wymondham Railway Station often wins plaudits for its smart appearance, carefully preserved heritage and general loveliness – the attention to detail is first class with masses of flowers now in bloom.
For many years people were also drawn to its quirky cafe, Brief Encounter, which served lights meals and plenty of cakes! Housed in the original 1845 station building built, it was famous for its railway memorabilia including photos, posters and more from that wonderful Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson 1945 movie from which the cafe got its name.
Owner David Turner retired earlier this year after a very credible 20-plus years but fortunately new owners were soon found and the place has reopened, with a refresher interior, a more extensive menu and a new name – the Station Bistro.
There are still the wonderful old railway seats and plenty of bits and pieces from the golden age of rail travel but the new owners are keen to receive more so do see what you can find lying about at home and let them know!
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But back to the bistro. I visited one Friday lunchtime with a friend and it was busy, with a mixture of retired couples and office staff enjoying the menu which includes everything from sarnies to full meals such as beef in red wine sauce, chilli, ham, eggs and chips and more.
We decided to go for it and fill our bellies. Portions are hearty and it is definitely not a fancy place, with not too much attention to presentation.
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I went for the steak and kidney suet pudding at �7.99 and my friend tried the chicken and mushroom pie at �7.80. Both came with plenty of vegetables and a goodly jug of gravy. They were tasty, straight forward and the sort of dish that appeals to people who don't like their food 'mucked about with' too much!
For pudding, and this is definitely a pudding and not a dessert kind of place, we both opted for rhubarb crumble with lashings of thick custard at �4. Again, it was pleasing and disappeared quickly and we then felt the need for lattes – and a siesta as we were basically full to bursting point!
While the menu includes jacket potatoes, omelettes and the ever popular bacon butty, I think they could offer lighter dishes in the summer, with perhaps salads and more pasta dishes available.
The owners are making a real effort in catering from children, with a separate menu with favourites such as macaroni cheese, fish fingers and pizza – all at �3.50 including a drink. They are also planning to create a Thomas the Tank Engine garden soon which will be a real asset. It's the sort of place that's perfect for a spot of afternoon tea. The range of cakes is impressive, with several on offer for those with food intolerances. Look out for the crumpets and cheese scones, too! A cream tea is just 3.50 which again represents very good value. Sunday lunch at �7.50 is another popular choice and something that will bring in the crowds as Father's Day looms on June 19.
There are lagers, beers and wines on offer plus milk shakes and various soft drinks – the luxury hot chocolate looked good to me!
It opens from 8.30am to 5pm and you can also grab something for your journey as there is a good take-away service on offer, too.
Open: Daily 8.30am-5pm
Prices: Mains from �6, Sunday roasts �7.50
Vegetarian options: Plenty
Wheelchair access: Yes