9 of the best tasting menus in Norfolk
PUBLISHED: 19:00 12 November 2019 | UPDATED: 08:52 13 November 2019
Indulge all your senses by checking out the very best these Norfolk restaurants have to offer...
In the past few years some chefs have been on the fence about tasting menus. Most notably Cambridge's Daniel Clifford, who threw them out the window (only to reel them back in later on). More recently Michelin starred chef Sat Bains has flown the flag for the dining experience, gaining the support of fellow foodies and restaurateurs who rapturously agreed with his comments, made in a recent interview. "The way I look at a tasting menu is similar to going to the theatre or watching a film; you need that contrast of the peak and flow of the meal, so it's got to be thought out. You can't be lazy with a tasting menu, as you have to be thinking about contrast, balance, texture and temperature. When you nail that, your guests are left with a world class experience."
With that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best places you can exercise your tastebuds in the county. But there are a few rules…
1. Always book in advance and inform the kitchen of any allergies in good time, and be aware the whole table usually has to take a tasting menu.
2. Don't be put off by dishes on the menu you wouldn't usually order. That's the whole point. Experiment. Experience. Let the chef take you on a journey.
3. If you're not driving, order the wine flight. Restaurants often put a lot of work into these and they work out at exceptional value.
The Norfolk Mead, Coltishall
This luxury country house hotel, settled in the Norfolk Broads can boast two AA Rosettes for culinary excellence and offers a taster menu monthly, allowing the kitchen to really flex its culinary muscles. While the menus have stopped for 2019 to make way for Christmas, they return from January, priced at £65 per person(for eight courses) with an optional wine flight at £30 per person. The meal includes snacks on arrival, a Norfolk cheese board and tea or coffee with petit fours. Dishes this year have included beetroot bao bun with roasted garlic aioli and Asian slaw, lobster ravioli with sweetcorn, lovage and smoked bisque, and citrus soufflé with Campari sorbet.
Chef patron Richard Bainbridge's multi-award-winning restaurant in the city's Lanes is one of the highest rated by the AA in the East of England. Alongside head chef Ashley, Richard and the team source and curate some of the best ingredients in Norfolk and Suffolk, championing small producers and supporting projects such as the garden at Thornage Hall. The menu (vegan and veg available) focuses on letting the individual flavours of each element shine, with little fuss. It's about flavour. Tuck into the seven course tasting menu (£60 per person)and you're in for a treat, beginning with all manner of snacks, before the kitchen roll out plates such as Brancaster mussels with butternut, coriander and curry spice, Hodmedods organic grains with confit egg yolk, garlic and chive, and damson jelly with mandarin ice cream.
Roger Hickman's, Norwich
When he opened his eponymous restaurant in the city 10 years ago, Roger was one of the first eateries in Norwich to offer a tasting menu, and it remains a popular chioce for diners. The seven course menu (plus canapes, coffee and petit fours) is priced at £70, with a full vegetarian menu also available at £60. In addition guests can enjoy a six course tasting menu at lunchtimes for £41 (£30 for vegetarians).
Each of these options is a delightful way to experience some of the best dishes of one of Norfolk's best chefs.
Plates this year have included Jerusalem artichoke with textures of goat's cheese, pine nuts and Pedro Ximenez foam, loin of venison with celeriac, oyster mushroom and venison pie, and Victoria plum, pistachio and vanilla cheesecake.
Socius, Burnham Market
Winner of Restaurant of the Year in our Eat Norfolk Food and Drink Awards, on Thursday, December 5, Socius is set to host a festive wine tasting event at £69.50 per person including food and wines. The varied menu offers seabass gravlax with apple, citrus and horseradish, served with Vouvray, Clos Le Vigneau, Chateau Gaudrelle 2017, and aged beef with braised ox cheek, mushrooms and chestnuts, accompanied by Torraccia deli Piantavigna Ghemme DOCG 2009. Book now to grab a place.
The Neptune, Hunstanton
A favourite with chefs (when/if they have a day off) Kevin's Michelin starred kitchen is a prime example of great ingredients served justly, without loads of fussy accoutrements. The menu is clean, elegant and seasonal, dedicated to simply taking advantage of what the sea, earth and fields currently have to offer. As such, the tasting menu changes frequently and is £78 per person. This year dishes have included marinated salmon with lobster and oyster mayonnaise and Norfolk venison with butternut squash, lovage cream and pumpkin seeds.
The Grove, Cromer
As well as being one of the very best guest houses on the north Norfolk coast, The Grove extends an invitation to non-resident guests, who have been enjoying the fruits of the kitchen's labour for many years. On November 29, The Grove hosts its latest tasting menu, with wines paired by Peter Graham Wines of Norwich. Priced at £70 per person for seven courses with wine flight, the value is exceptional. Diners can look forward to braised pig cheek with chorizo jam, smashed pea and goats' curd, accompanied by Camins del Priorat, and cured and roasted Gressingham duck breast with confit leg croquette, carrot puree, crispy shallot, pickled cranberry and cherry brandy jus, paired with Corbieres Vielle Vignes Chateau Fontareche.
The Ingham Swan, Ingham
Now recovered from a devastating fire, The Ingham Swan is back and bursting to showcase its food, which has always been of the highest renown in Norfolk. The inn with rooms has a seven course tasting menu at £58 per person, with wine flights an additional £32 each. Begin with a variety of snacks (think pulled pork, apple and leek) before diving into a menu of anything from pan-fried chicken mousse with local girolles and chicken wing, to roasted wild bass with brown shrimp, courgette, beurre blanc and potato puff.
The Wildebeest, Stoke Holy Cross
Head chef Fabio won Chef of the Year in our Eat Norfolk Food and Drink Awards this year and a regular offering for the eatery is its Taste of Norfolk menu, demonstrating just what can be achieved using ingredients sourced from around the county. The menu is £49.50 per person, with an optional wine flight at £24.50 per person for seven courses. Fabio and the kitchen's recent plates have ranged from pumpkin and sage gnocchi with roasted butternut, tomato and sage crisps, to Norfolk quail with thyme polenta, apple boudin and game jus.
Morston Hall, Morston
Galton and Tracy Blackiston's Michelin starred country hotel and restaurant is simply one of the best places in the UK for a relaxing break. Let the team take care of you in the homely, welcoming setting. Indulge in afternoon tea. Take a bracing walk on the nearby beach. And prepare to delight in the gastronomic experiences prepared by the kitchen for the set evening tasting menu. Using Norfolk and Suffolk ingredients, including game from local shoots and seasonal fish, the team will wow you - beginning with dainty canapes in the lounge. The menu changes daily at Morston and dinner is £90 per person.
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