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Muddy eats: The Dial House

One of my favourite things to do on a Sunday afternoon is go for a roast. You could say I’m a bit of a fanatic, happily comparing a new spot to the one last week or the week before (the meat was better quality, but how hard is it to make your own Yorkshire puddings? etc). And the best place to eat a roast (other than at your mum’s perhaps) is definitely a Georgian beauty in a quaint market town.

Welcome to The Dial House, a restaurant-cum-hotel-cum-bar that, amongst other things, has its own AGA room for lunch, dinner or coffee and cake – on the day of our visit, fruit scones, cheese scones and pancakes all coming out of this much-loved (and pretty expensive) cooker.

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The transformation of this grand Georgian building from a pub, restaurant, 23-room hotel, banqueting hall and sports club to a pub, restaurant, eight-bedroom hotel and 16 luxury homes to buy was undertaken by a local entrepreneur and realised last year.

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The back wall of the AGA room showcases a sparkling white six oven AGA cooker, surrounded by stylish Farrow and Ball grey cabinets and placed, as you do, just for show – the real work happens in the real kitchen to the right. There’s also an AGA colours board on the wall outside just in case you become severely tempted during lunch.

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But the best thing about the AGA room is the roasts, which arrive hot from the AGA 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, we got both beef and pork (yes, the crackling passed the crackle test), which was a pleasant surprise. The plates and cutlery remind me of my nan’s kitchen – mismatched and charming, and entirely in keeping with the surroundings.

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Then I notice a brown label hanging from one of the bookcases and realise, on quick scout, that everything in the room is for sale – from the knives and forks to the tables and chairs. Lunch with a spot of interiors shopping, anyone?

Full but not ready to throw in the towel yet, my dining companion and I both order the AGA crumble: big thick chunks of apple and plum topped with an obscene amount of crumble and served with a jug of hot custard speckled with vanilla. It’s so big we should have shared, but somehow we manage.

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No trip to The Dial House would be complete without a visit to the loo’s – six individually decorated spaces made to resemble the squash courts of previous ownership, but hiding something entirely different inside: head to squash court 3 for walls covered in black and glitter mirrors and squash court 4 for a rustic den, complete with bucket sink and copies of The Beano.

After lunch, I manager to convince the owner to show me some of the bedroooms as I have heard lots about how individual they are (my friend raves about ‘Paris’ for its wallpaper and chic style). I particularly like the one with the tiny Crosley record player – 45′ vinyl available to borrow from downstairs. Now if that’s not a reason to stay…

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A coffee later and it’s off into the winter sunshine to look around the quaint market town of Reepham – all in all, the perfect way to while away a Sunday afternoon.

MUDDY VERDICT:

Good for: Families and groups looking for a drink, a casual Sunday roast or an upmarket lunch or dinner. AGA owners after inspiration.
Not for: People wishing to eat who haven’t already pre-booked.
£££
– mid range. Entrees £5-£8, AGA Sunday lunch, £14, kids’ meals £6.

The Dialhouse, Reepham, Norfolk NR10 4JS. Tel: 01603 879900. thedialhouse.org.uk

 

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