It feels a bit wrong to be sitting here in the middle of what can only be classed as a heatwave writing this blog about a grey and miserable day back in May when we defied the weather and had a great day out in North Norfolk. Our only commitment was a lunch booking at the White Horse (@WhiteHorseBranc) in Brancaster Staithe – somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for years, but have never quite made it to before. Here’s a spoiler: it was worth the wait! But we found a few treats on the way, so more about the lunch in a bit.
Setting off from Norwich, we made a first stop at Taverham Nursery and Garden Centre. I grew up in Taverham but must have been 15 years since I’d last been to the Nursery and it has been extended massively. The driving rain meant that we were faced with a dash from the car to the cafe then from the cafe to the cookshop before giving up and going back to the car, but the homemade cake was welcome and the cookshop is well worth exploring as they seemed to stock pretty much everything you might need and had a really good baking section.
Our next stop was at the Creake Abbey Café and Food Hall (@creakeabbeycafe), which only opened in April, but has quickly become well-established and it’s easy to see why. The building itself is great – high ceilings and with a butcher and deli counter as the centrepiece all along one wall of the shop. The Food Hall stocks a mixture of local produce and fine food from around the country and the world. The highlights that we came away with were some of Mrs Temple’s Binham Blue cheese and some Marsh Pig (@marshpigsalami) red wine and black pepper salami – both great Norfolk products.
As lunchtime was approaching we meandered on to Brancaster Staithe. Sadly it wasn’t really a day for a walk, but we did have a go when the rain eased off for long enough to get out of the car – as you can see – Pete was really enjoying it!
Then it was on to the main event: lunch. As you’d expect, given the location of the White Horse overlooking the marshes towards the sea, the menu is heavily biased towards fish (even Pete’s pork belly starter was topped with some super crispy crab puffs) and is constantly changing with local seasonal ingredients. Eating delicious food, with a beautiful view from the restaurant was a real treat. My starter was a seafood verrine. I must confess I’d never come across a verrine before so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, but it was a glass dish layered with different elements including a jelly with caviar, saffron cockles, mackerel and salmon tartare – with all of those ingredients, I knew I wasn’t taking too much of a risk by ordering it. For the main course I had a gorgeous fresh whole cooked plaice (you can’t beat keeping it simple sometimes), while Pete went for the seafood platter. All of it was beautifully presented and thoroughly delicious.
It had started to brighten up so we finished off the day with a potter around Wells – although given the wind we kept it fairly brief! Previously my main experiences of food in Wells (along with many others I imagine) have been based around trying to remember which of the two chip shops on the quay does the best fish and chips (Platten’s was a finalist in this year’s National Fish and Chip Awards), and a failed and much ridiculed attempt at crabbing with friends. As we wandered down Staithe Street though and on to the quay it was great to see a couple of delis along with the butcher’s and greengrocer’s – I’m definitely looking forward to going back again – hopefully on a day when we can really make the most of it!