Market Bistro, King’s Lynn
I can't remember the last time that I visited a restaurant where there was so much attention to detail, from the presentation of the food to the warm homemade mints that came with the bill. Simply fantastic!
Tucked away in the heart of historic King’s Lynn, Market Bistro is a family-owned independent restaurant. Head Chef, Richard Golding, has a reputation for creating fresh and unusual dishes from the tastiest of local ingredients. Rave reviews have already come in from a number of notable sources – the Financial Times, for one – and it was a finalist in the Best Restaurant category in our Muddy Stilettos Awards. But would it live up to the hype? There was only one way to find out…
It was my co-diner who summed up the decor in Market Bistro with one simple word: ‘handsome’. The colour scheme of moody blues, warm greys and lots of natural wood was understated and simple, with gentle jazz playing in the background and splashes of colour in the bouquets of herbs on each table. It was a sunny evening in King’s Lynn and as I looked out from my window seat at the view of the Minster, I could feel my worldly worries slipping away.
SCOFF & QUAFF
The drinks menu had an interesting variety of local and regional choices as well as the standard options, including wines from the Winbirri Vineyards in Surlingham and Truffle Gin from the Cambridge Distillery. My poor long-suffering housemate, who finds herself forced to accompany me to restaurants and bars as my review plus-one, was hard-pushed to choose a favourite between the seasonal cocktail recommendation – the Rhubarb Tall – and the Raspberry Fizz. As the designated driver, I opted for the non-alcoholic gin cocktail with Seedlip Grove and rhubarb. Virtue has never tasted so good.
As you’d expect from a fine-dining restaurant, the menu was small but perfectly formed. There were vegetarian and vegan options for starters and mains as standard and the desserts could be adapted for vegans if notice was given in advance. In addition to the à la carte menu, there were five-course and seven-course tasting menus, both with wine flight options, so we were totally spoilt for choice, and whilst we made up our minds, we were treated to warm homemade sourdough and brown butter and miniature beetroot amuse-bouche garnished with edible flowers.It looked good enough to eat – so we did!
In the end, we opted for the à la carte menu and we weren’t disappointed. The beetroot tar tare (not a typo!) with gherkin puree was packed with strong, earthy flavours whilst in contrast, my crab panna cotta was light and delicately balanced and beautifully presented with a purple flower garnish.
Our main courses were lamb shoulder and black bream and both were cooked to perfection, with no one flavour overpowering the others. It was refreshing to find some unusual accompaniments to my bream – artichoke, lovage and kohlrabi – and these made for a standout dish. We also ordered a couple of sides to share – rainbow chard with almonds and purple kale with pancetta – which were both simple but delicious.
Somehow we’d managed to save room for dessert and it was probably the best decision we’d made all night. Visually, the trifle was heaven on a plate: summery colours of green, lilac and rose (plus the feature flower garnish) and it tasted just as good as it looked. My chocolate and peanut was all about the contrasting textures of smooth cremeux and crunchy praline and it was rich without oversweetness and just enough to satisfy.
We couldn’t possibly have managed anything else but a really lovely little gesture was the presentation of a plate of petit fours to the couple celebrating their anniversary at the table behind us. It’s obvious that at Market Bistro, as much thought is given to the presentation and service of the food as is given to the preparation. From the level of attention from our waiter to the herb garnish on the bream, it was perfect. It’s impossible to say anything but that.
OUT & ABOUT
King’s Lynn has developed a thriving cultural scene over the last few years, and as it’s a bit of a drive, it’s worth making the most of your time there. The Corn Exchange has a fun and varied programme of events (see our Muddy Stilettos What’s On Guide for this month’s listings) and we were lucky enough to be there for the Festival Too weekend, which saw plenty of music and fringe events taking place across the town. You’re also just a stone’s throw away from some of the most beautiful areas of the county, and if you book into the adjacent Goldings rooms, there are luxury bed & breakfast and dinner packages available too. So why not stay over and make a weekend of it?
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
I tried really hard to find something that I didn’t like so that I could make this a balanced review, but I couldn’t fault a single aspect. I can’t remember the last time that I visited a restaurant where there was so much attention to detail, from the presentation of the food to the warm homemade mints that came with the bill. Admittedly, King’s Lynn is a bit of a trek from Norwich: an hour is a long way to travel for dinner. But in all honesty, I would drive twice the distance to go there again.
Good for: Intimate dining experience, strong flavours, local ingredients
Not for: Children, fussy eaters or noisy parties
The Damage: Given the quality of the food, Market Bistro was surprisingly reasonable, although if you are on a budget, this is probably one for special occasions. Starters range from £7-£12, mains from £15-£22 and desserts come in at around £8 each. Cocktails were at the £8 mark and my 125ml glass of wine was £7.
Top Tip: Ask for wine recommendations, especially if you’re trying different wines by the glass. The General Manager, Jess, was happy to suggest the best pairing for each dish and as the tasting menu has a wine flight option too, you know you’ll be choosing the perfect drink to complement your food.
Address: Market Bistro, 11 Saturday Market Place, King’s Lynn, Norfolk, PE30 5DQ
Tel: 01553 771 483
Words: Hannah Colby