As many of you now know, I’ve bought a house in Norfolk which means lots of new food places to explore. One of the areas I want to explore more and don’t know very well is the stretch of coast from Hunstanton round to Wells-next-the-Sea. For anyone that hasn’t been before, Holkham sits along that coastline and has a glorious beach. You’ve probably seen the sprawling expanse of golden sand on TV and in films without realising it’s in Norfolk.
I was invited last week to try The Victoria Inn, Holkham nestled within the picturesque Holkham estate. Dating all the way back to 1837, The Victoria is a beautiful building. It’s the kind of place that immediately feels welcoming and homely, it’s all countryside chic (is that a thing?) and wooden floors. I imagine (if you can get there) when it snows being sat by their huge fire with a furry canine friend (yes, they allow dogs!) and a hot chocolate is as cosy as you could possibly ever be…
I chose the potted mackerel brandade (Google tells me that brandade is usually made with salt cod) with grated horseradish and seeded toast. It was really enjoyable, the seeded toast added a nice crunch to the creamy mackerel with the horseradish swooping in afterwards with a kick of heat. The pea shoots on the side were a nice inclusion too.
Paul’s breaded braised venison (try saying that after a few vinos) with Dijonnaise was pleasant and I liked the presentation. The shredded venison patties tasted good but were a fraction dry so the grapes and Dijonnaise on the plate were very welcome additions. There was a definite celery aftertaste, which I found a bit overpowering but that’s just personal preference because I’m not a fan of celery.
Most of the meat at The Victoria is from the Holkham estate and surrounding areas. The daily changing “Cut of the Day” special we chose to share was the beef rib from their herd of Belted Galloway cows “on the marshes”. It came with a little pot of ratatouille, some fresh green beans and smooth, creamy mashed potato to share. The amount of meat was more than enough for two and the beef only had to look at your fork to fall apart. There was so much we had to wrap it up to take some home. We both loved everything about this main.
I was surprised to see there was no chocolate desserts on the menu, not even on the specials. I was soon consoled by the promise of a berry tart with a spiced orange sorbet though. Paul chose a caramel apple sponge pudding with vanilla ice cream which came as two individual puddings. They were delicious, buttery and artery-cloggingly sticky – everything a good dessert should be!
The spiced orange sorbet alongside my tart really stole the show for me – the balance of warming spices against the cold of the really zingy orange sorbet was unexpectedly wonderful. Especially as sorbet is something I find it hard to get excited about usually. I loved it and I’m glad they cleared the plate before I got the chance to embarrass myself by licking it clean!
The service from both of our waiting staff was flawless. They were friendly, attentive and a real credit to The Victoria. They provided great recommendations and we never felt rushed. Considering we went on a Tuesday evening, it was still quite busy and I imagine most people that stay at the hotel stay for dinner. Holkham is an amazing setting and though I’ve not seen the rooms at The Victoria, I’d love to stay over in the hotel after dinner in the Winter – perfect after a fresh walk along the beach.
I’ve already recommended The Victoria to several people in Norfolk and I’m sure I’ll be returning soon. It’s one of those places that can be as relaxed or as formal as you want it to be. There was as many people dressed up for dinner as there were people with their dogs relaxing having a pint after a walk.
Price: ££ (expect to spend around the £100 mark for 3 courses for two including a glass of wine each and service)
Parking: Large car park at the rear
*On this occasion I was a guest of The Victoria, Holkham but I will be returning as a paying customer. As always all opinions are 100% mine and honest*