12 great pub roasts to try
WARNING: This post will make you very, very hungry!
It’s roast season (hurrah) and Norfolk is well and truly stuffed with beautiful pubs serving some beautiful Sunday roasts between now and, well, February I guess (hurrah!). With inventive takes on traditional produce; medleys of colourful, local veg; Yorkshire puds as big as your head; and pork crackling so crunchy you could use it as a weapon – not to mention warming fires, local ales and cosiness galore – the choices are endless. So, grab your knife and fork and join me for a great Norfolk Roast Round-up. Gravy at the ready?
The Georgian Townhouse:
There’s always a buzzy atmosphere in The Townhouse on a Sunday – the air filled with the sound of over-excited children and wonderful homely smells coming from the kitchen (to say this place is kid-friendly is an understatement – check out the kids’ playroom complete with buckets of toys and a flatscreen TV). Roasts are served on wooden boards with the choice of chicken with cranberry & apple stuffing and bread sauce; roast loin of pork with crackling, sage & apple stuffing and apple sauce; and roast topside of beef with smoked horseradish cream. All roasts come with crispy roast potatoes, oversized Yorkshire puds, bowls of seasonal veg, lashings of rich gravy and seasoning from the venue’s own herb garden. Booking ahead is essential.
The Rooftop Gardens:
Opening its doors last month, The Rooftop Gardens is the only bar and restaurant in the city with 360 panoramic views from two large outdoor seating areas. Roasts cost a pretty reasonable £24.95 (look at the view) for three courses, with a choice of two starters and two desserts. Mains include Swannington 30-day matured roasted beef sirloin; rosemary, garlic and lemon stuffed roast Swannington pork; and sweet potato, courgette and nut roast. All dishes are served with duck fat, mustard, thyme and garlic roast potatoes; buttered savoy cabbage; honey and star anise Chatenay carrots; cauliflower cheese; Yorkshire pudding; and beef gravy (hungy much? Blimey!). Oblong plates and enamel duck-egg blue jugs of gravy deliciously break with the norm.
The Warwick Street Social:
Since taking over The Mad Moose last year, The Warwick Street Social has gone from strength-to-strength, delighting locals with Steak Tuesdays, Fizz & Chip Fridays and a legendary Sunday Roasts. Keeping it relatively simple with a choice of three meats – rump of beef, belly of pork or shoulder of lamb – trimmings include Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, seasonal veg, red wine jus and, as an extra, harissa sweet potato mash. With Chef Patron Daniel Smith now at the helm – of The Great British Menu fame – and soothing live jazz to accompany your hearty roast, a lovely Sunday afternoon is guaranteed.
The Sir Garnet:
Overlooking the iconic Norwich market, The Sir Garnet is an all-time favourite with residents, including the county’s famous export, Stephen Fry who is often spotted in the pub. All the roasts at this charming, multi-layered and higgledy-piggeldy establishment are a bargain at £10, with three course deals on offer for the mightily hungry (or the hungover!). The highlight here is the cauliflower cheese, which comes with a drizzle of truffle oil; everything else on the deliciously high-piled plate is sourced from Norfolk. The best part is that you can go and walk it off in Norwich afterwards – a spot of post-lunch Christmas shopping, perhaps?
Kick start your Sunday with a grown-up roast at The Lord Rosebery, with a choice of Bloody Mary’s available by the glass or jug. Choose from Tequila, Ophir Gin, Vodka, Horseradish Gin or – for the drivers – a Virgin Mary (all hail!). The pub changes its roast menu every week, offering two locally-sourced meat (including, when available, slow-roasted leg of lamb and honey and maple roast gammon) and two vegetarian options – great news for veggies sick of the usual nut roast. All roasts are served with a mound of freshly- cooked vegetables, crispy and fluffy roast potatoes, a Yorkshire pudding and lashings of gravy ‘like granny makes’ (claims the website).
The Black Horse:
If there was a contest for how high you can place a roast on a plate, The Black Horse would be up there. This newly-refurbished pub takes food very seriously, offering a more refined take on a classic Sunday roast, with a whopping five options for Sunday revellers. Choose between Norfolk topside of beef with horseradish, Welsh salt marsh lamb with mint sauce, Norfolk free range chicken with bread sauce, Blythburgh pork loin with crackling and apple sauce, and spiced polenta with quinoa and vegetable loaf. All roasts come with Yorkshire pudding, sweet potato puree, maple glazed carrots, hispi cabbage (ke?), red cabbage, minted courgettes, roast potatoes and gravy. There’s also a kids’ roast with cauliflower cheese.
The Reindeer Pub & Kitchen:
A couple of Sundays ago I went into The Reindeer after a random half a pint and a scotch egg but was told apologetically that the entire place was fully booked for at least eight hours (what?) from middy pm, proving just how popular it is. With roasts served as a guarantee until 8pm rather than a ‘when it’s gone it’s gone policy’, punters can choose between an impressive five options including topside of red poll beef, roasted leg of Lincolnshire curly coated pig, Norfolk black turkey, roasted butternut squash with truffled white beans and – unusually – salmon. All roasts (including the vegetarian and fish options) cleverly come with roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and seasonal veg.
The Dial House, Reepham:
This gorgeous Georgian pub, restaurant and rooms is probably the only establishment on this list that does roasts with a real difference – everything is cooked on a white, four-oven AGA cooker which sits proudly in the middle of the dining room. What does this mean for you punter? Well, slow roasted meat for one and a very warm and cosy room to sit in. Roasts are served on a large antique plate placed fashionably in the middle of the table for everyone to share. Piled high with crunchy roast potatoes, homemade Yorkshire puddings and gloopy cauliflower cheese, diners can also order BOTH beef and pork in the same sitting – have you ever heard of such a thing? Genius!
The Hoste, Burnham Market:
Not only is The Hoste situated next to the village green of arguably one of Norfolk’s prettiest villages but the roast menu is the one of the most extensive Muddy has come across, with five options for starters, mains and desserts – £26 for two courses; £32 for three. As a guide, your meal could look like this: steamed Brancaster mussels, Wherry ale, celeriac, cream, sourdough bread to start, pot roasted maize fed chicken, chestnut and ginger stuffing, seasonal vegetables and roast potatoes for main (there had better be a Yorkshire pudding in there too I tell thee), and sticky toffee pudding, butterscotch sauce, vanilla ice cream, pecan tuile for dessert. Not too shabby.
The Market Bistro, Kings Lynn:
Tucked away in an unassuming building in Kings Lynn, The Market Bistro continually receives rave reviews from food critics and reviewers – Tim Haywood from the Financial Times recently described it as “the most authentic expression of hospitality I have experienced in long jaded years,” while The Times voted it as one of the top 25 family run restaurants in the UK this year. Food is pretty but not fussy; wholesome but not try-hard with only seasonal Norfolk produce used where possible. Roasts are simple but perfectly-executed with trimmings to make you feel right at home.
The Fritton Arms, Fritton:
Lord & Lady Somerleyton’s country pub has rooms, local ales, great wine, interesting spirits and a seasonal menu celebrating estate produce. Located on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, this country manor is really worth the trip out, particularly for its roast dinners which are as grand and warming as the estate itself. A choice of beef or pork is accompanied by homemade Yorkshire puddings, fluffy roast potatoes and seasonal veg which comes from a farm on the estate itself, meaning it couldn’t be more local – or more in season. Expect a very pretty plate, too – perhaps garnished with some flowers from the estate’s garden. The Fritton Arms also has plenty of fires for nursing a glass of red wine afterwards.
The Green Dragon, Wymondham:
Located in one of Norfolk’s oldest 14th century buildings (think black and white/leaning), The Green Dragon continues to win awards for its food and local ales Guests are treated to a traditional British roast on Sundays with four options including beef, pork belly, lamb and a vegetarian nut roast, served with all of the trimmings including piggies in blankets (yum!). Smaller dishes are available for children (on the piggy menu – too cute), while a host of local ales is on tap, alongside a small wine menu. Once you’ve eaten, head upstairs to the newly-refurbished Den and listen to some live music.
The Dabbling Duck, Great Massingham:
This is the second time I’ve written about The Dabbing Duck this month, proving just how good this sprawling pub-cum-restaurant-cum-boutique hotel is (I tried my hardest not to include it this time, but if the shoe fits…). There are two roast options on a Sunday – pork or beef – without a duck breast in sight, although duck fat roast potatoes do join Yorkshire puddings, seasonal veg and beefy gravy on the piled-high plate. There’s even a menu for your pooch, although I doubt it will be a roast dinner (you never know though!). Wherever possible the produce used in the kitchens is locally sourced often the pub’s own land with the formidable Dale Smith heading the kitchen team.