Celebrated for its seafood, the Norfolk coast offers everything from gourmet restaurants and foodie pubs to beach cafés and sustainable fish and chips
WORDS Alex Reece
FOR… A PANORAMIC VIEW
The White Horse, Brancaster Staithe
With a terrace facing the North Sea coast and Scolt Head Island, The White Horse restaurant with rooms majors on local seafood, such as lobster, mussels and oysters grown in the local creeks. From spring onwards, a Marsh Side Bar opens at the bottom of the garden – beside the tidal marshland – to host a series of outdoor events (see website for dates and details). For lunch and dinner, take your pick from either casual dining in the bar or the more formal (but easygoing) conservatory restaurant. Please call or book online in advance for the restaurant and terraces, but if you’re just passing by do check with the team to see if there are any tables available. Evening mains in the bar start from around £14.50 (01485 210262, whitehorsebrancaster.co.uk).
FOR… FISH & CHIPS
No1 Cromer, Cromer
In a prime spot on the seafront, surveying the pier and beach, is Galton Blackiston’s second Norfolk venture: No1 Cromer, serving sustainable fish and chips. Alongside chip-shop staples of cod, haddock and plaice you’ll find delicious additions such as Cromer crab or cockle popcorn, to either eat in or take away. All side dishes – including mushy peas and sauces – are made in-house to the establishment’s own recipes, while kids’ meals are served in a bucket with spade. On the first floor, Upstairs at No1 does a fine line in modern British cooking with international influences. No1 Cromer is currently offering a walk-in service only – no bookings and no telephone orders for takeaway. Fish and chips from around £12.90 (01263 515983, no1cromer.com).
Read next 10 Best Feel-Good Fish and Chip Shops
FOR… FINE DINING
The Neptune, Hunstanton
A treat for serious foodies is this fine-dining restaurant with rooms in an 18th-century former coaching inn, close to Old Hunstanton Beach. Owned and run by chef Kevin Mangeolles and his wife Jacki, who relocated to Norfolk from the Isle of Wight, the restaurant has earned a Michelin star every year since 2009. The emphasis is on the best of Norfolk produce, so for dinner, you might expect a starter of Norfolk quail, fried sprouts, truffle and pickled sultanas, followed by monkfish with Brancaster mussels, baked leeks, courgette and gnocchi. If you would like to book a table, call 01485 532122 between 10am and 6pm or make a booking enquiry using the form online. The maximum table size is six people. Dinner from around £47 for two courses (01485 532122, theneptune.co.uk).
FOR… A SPECIAL OCCASION
Morston Hall, Morston
Two miles from the coast, this 17th-century, country house hotel is where multi-award-winning chef Galton Blackiston weaves his culinary magic. A joint concern with his wife and co-owner Tracy, this flagship restaurant has won a Michelin star for 21 successive years. Evening diners are treated to a seven-course tasting menu, which changes daily, starting with canapés in the garden on fine days. Alternatively, a four-course Sunday lunch showcases local rare-breed meats and seafood starters from the North Sea. Afternoon teas are also a delight, served in the sun lounge overlooking the grounds. Booking is essential – book by telephone only – and for reservations with a maximum of two households combined. Dinner £95pp; Sunday lunch £50pp; afternoon tea from £30 (01263 741041, morstonhall.com).
FOR… Terrace get-togethers
The Orange Tree, Thornham
A stalwart of The Good Pub Guide, the family-owned Orange Tree in the coastal village of Thornham is a firm Norfolk favourite. Set on Peddars Way (which follows an old Roman road) and close to the Norfolk Coast Path, this award-winning pub offers quality local produce in a laidback environment, with all meals currently served outside where a new terrace area has been created. The pub also offers 17 lovely rooms, if you’d like to linger longer. If you wish to book a table please either email ([email protected]) including a mobile number in your message, or call on the number below. Mains from around £13.95 (01485 512213, theorangetreethornham.co.uk).
FOR… A FAMILY FEAST
The Globe Inn, Wells-next-the-Sea
This charming hotel-restaurant on a Georgian square in pretty Wells-next-the-Sea has a children’s menu for lunch, dinner and Sunday roasts, making it ideal for families. Grown-ups will also enjoy the locally sourced, classic dishes – from hearty traditional favourites to vegetarian (and vegan) options. In the summer, wood-fired pizzas are available outdoors in the courtyard (Wed-Sun). Perfect for refuelling after a day spent crabbing on the quay. The Globe would appreciate diners booking in advance, as there is reduced capacity to ensure safe distances. Evening mains from £14 (01328 710206, theglobeatwells.co.uk).
FOR… GARDEN PRODUCE
Wiveton Hall Café, Wiveton
This vibrant café, usually set in a converted barn in the grounds of a Jacobean manor, is now all outdoors and many of the wholesome dishes incorporate vegetables and herbs grown in the walled kitchen garden. Open from 9.30am till 8.30pm (weather permitting), this venue has views of the marshes and sea, so you can watch boats drift by on the horizon as you enjoy a generous Wiveton salad or Weybourne crab with new potatoes, followed by poached pear with spiced mascarpone cream. The café is not taking bookings as there are plenty of outdoor tables here well spaced apart, however if you would like to pre-order your food ahead of your visit you can do so on the day by calling 01263 741001, which will make things faster on arrival. Salads from £10.50 (01263 740515, wivetonhall.co.uk).
FOR… BRITISH TAPAS
Socius, Burnham Market
A popular newcomer to the Burnham Market restaurant scene is Socius, which opened in 2018. Run by self-taught chef Dan Lawrence and Natalie Stuhler, whose background is in hospitality, it offers a regional twist on tapas in an airy, barn-like new-build. The couple work closely with local suppliers to create their menu, which changes weekly, according to season. Ideal for groups of family and friends, small plates include fishy treats (such as wild sea bass with Thai curry), hot and cold meats (ham hock croquettes; beef to share) and an array of vegetable dishes, from Jerusalem artichokes to Norfolk beetroot, followed by indulgent desserts or local cheeses. Booking is essential now, you’re asked to please arrive on time, not early, to avoid waiting for your table, and there is a maximum table size of eight people to a group. Plates from £7 (01328 738307, sociusnorfolk.co.uk).
FOR… A COASTAL INN
The Victoria Inn, Holkham
The three-mile expanse of Holkham Beach is one of the most fêted in the UK on account of its broad ribbon of golden sand, edged by serene pine forest – one visit there and you will see why. The Victoria – or ‘Vic Inn’ – an early 19th-century coaching inn, owned and managed by the Holkham Estate, is open, but only to staying guests at the moment. Decorated in a crisp country style, the restaurant offers fresh and seasonal dishes, based on ingredients such as lamb and pork from the estate’s tenant farms or venison from the resident herd of fallow deer. Fish from local boats and vegetarian options also feature in daily changing specials. Enjoy far-reaching views of the sea from the conservatory. Evening mains from £14.50 (01328 711008, holkham.co.uk).
FOR… COFFEE & CAKE
Wells Beach Café, Wells-next-the-Sea
Ideal for a pit stop after a walk or a paddle at the shore, Wells Beach Café has resumed outdoor and indoor seating. The menu still offers fresh local produce at its best. Stop by for a warming breakfast of a bacon bap or sausage roll (either old-school or vegan – all are baked the same day), while for lunch there are tasty sandwiches and rolls, as well as the soup of the day. Also on offer is a glorious selection of cakes and tray bakes to enjoy with a Rainforest Alliance-certified coffee. Cakes and coffees start from around £2.50 (01328 713055, holkham.co.uk/stay-eat/beach-cafe).
All premises are operating with Covid-safe regulations in place – such as social distancing, one-way systems, card payments, table service and extra cleaning, etc – to make you feel comfortable eating out, see their websites for details. If you need to cancel a booking, please give the venue plenty of notice.