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Al fresco dining in Norfolk: 12 pretty restaurants

PUBLISHED: 10:26 29 August 2017 | UPDATED: 10:26 29 August 2017

The Victoria Inn at the Holkham Estate (photo: © Holkham Estate)

The Victoria Inn at the Holkham Estate (photo: © Holkham Estate)

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Norfolk has beautiful vistas no matter where you turn, so why not make the most of them with a meal enjoyed al fresco? We pick 12 places to do just that

1. The New Inn, Horning

Perched along the River Bure, with views over the broads, is The New Inn in the picturesque village of Horning. Simple yet filling lunches come in the form of paninis, packed with fillings such as brie, smoked bacon and cranberry, jacket potatoes or a refreshing dressed Cromer crab salad. Ingredients are sourced from local farms or butchers and are chosen for seasonal freshness and quality. You can visit from land or sea as there is a car park and boat mooring too. Well behaved dogs on leads are allowed in the garden but not indoors.

The garden: umbrella-shaded benches are dotted around the patio garden right next to the river.

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2. The Belgian Monk, Norwich

Somewhat of a hidden gem, The Belgian Monk in Pottergate is housed in a striking Tudor style building with design features that make the most of its historical charm: half timbered façade, dark wood and mismatched vintage chairs. As you might expect from the name, this pub pays homage to Belgium with 45 beers including the must-try Ter Dolen Kriek, a cherry beer that’s only UK home is The Belgian Monk. Food carries this trend along with Belgian style tapas that includes plates such as spiced fried halloumi, Limburg potatoes sliced and sautéed with garlic and herbs and Bitterballen, deep fried lamb in breadcrumbs served with Belgian mustard. There’s also a dedicated menu of mussels; the pub’s speciality.

The garden: although it’s small, this garden is an oasis in the city with greenery and flowers dotted around – it’s the perfect spot to sip that famous cherry beer in the sun!

3. The Globe Inn, Wells-next-the-Sea

Charming north Norfolk town Wells-next-the-Sea is home to The Globe Inn, the restaurant and hotel that makes for a welcome escape from metropolitan life in the city. Seafood comes from the north Norfolk coastline and meat comes from cows grazed in the marshes and fields that are plentiful in the area and forms simple dishes that let the local, quality produce speak for itself. The restaurant is dog friendly too!

The garden: with an outdoor pizza oven creating the distinctive charred aroma only achieved with a wood burner, the courtyard at The Globe Inn is an intimate sun trap, or head to the front and enjoy views across the Georgian square, The Buttlands.

4. Staithe ‘n’ Willow, Horning

If you can find a prettier outdoor place to enjoy a bite to eat and a drink than the Staithe ‘n’ Willow in Horning, pints are on us! The ultra bucolic thatched building surrounds a courtyard filled with delicate-looking white furniture and is bordered by flowers and shrubbery creating a dreamy fairytale spot to enjoy anything from cream teas to a full Sunday roast. All to be enjoyed

Local focus: Winbirri Wines, Farm Fresh Meats and local farm shops are just some of the suppliers that provide fresh ingredients for dishes such as creamy five fish pie, steak and ale pie and chicken pasta with bacon in a white wine sauce. If you can fit one in, order a traditional British dessert with a big dollop of ice cream.

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5. The Crown Inn, East Rudham

A sharp eye for detail was clearly employed in the forming of The Crown Inn in East Rudham; the interior design has been curated to create an unassuming yet stylish space. Menus change with the seasons to make the most of local producers’ seasonal foods so check the board for daily changing specials. The Crown Inn is also proud of its real ales with four regular ales and two guest ales on tap.

The garden: there is limited seating at the front of the building but it is a pretty location with large white umbrellas shielding diners from the sun and a border of potted shrubs to allow for a private meal or tipple in the sun.

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6. Wiveton Hall Café, Holt

It’s not just television appearances that have earned Wiveton Hall its accolades. The 17th century stately home has expertly manicured gardens, pick-your-own fruit fields, a farm shop, gift shop and art exhibitions. If that wasn’t enough to tempt you, maybe the restaurant and café will tempt you to visit. Surrounded by fruit fields and foliage, Wiveton Hall Café makes use of fresh, seasonal produce in its food that’s served at breakfast, lunch and special event dinners for summer at the weekends too.

The garden: candy coloured chairs are placed outside, surrounded by foliage and views over the strawberry and raspberry fields. Enjoy a pizza evening Sunday to Thursday, Tapas on Saturdays or ‘Beef and Reef’ on Fridays (all for limited times).

7. Victoria Inn, Holkham Hall

Sustaining its kitchen with local fare including fresh seafood from the north Norfolk coast, beef from cows grazed on the estate and even game shot by the family who own Holkham Hall, The Victoria Inn is a hotel and restaurant specialising in local, seasonal and fresh food that’s part of the Holkham Estate. The simple, elegant menu reflects these Norfolk ingredients with pride. Expect smoked haddock with poached egg and hollandaise for breakfast, and dressed lobster with garden salad and new potatoes for lunch, and maybe pork loin with sautéed potatoes, mushroom and horseradish cream for dinner.

The garden: neighbouring Holkham beach by just a stone’s throw, the restaurant gardens are surrounding by trees and peaceful vistas of north Norfolk.

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8. The Norfolk Riddle, Little Walsingham

Located in the historic, holy village of Little Walsingham, The Norfolk Riddle is a pretty restaurant that sources local produce to form its curated menu of British dishes. Expect plates such as baked whole mackerel stuffed with lemon and thyme with new potatoes and caper-buttered greens.

The garden: with the backdrop of the traditional flint building on one side and the Norfolk countryside on the other, you can enjoy your locally sourced meal (and a few drinks) in tranquillity.

9. Beechwood Hotel & Restaurant, North Walsham

Housed in a stunning red brick building that’s clad in ivy is the Beechwood Hotel & Restaurant in the heart of North Walsham. The double AA awarded eatery serves British cuisine and the exciting summer menu consists of dishes such as roasted loin of Norfolk lamb with aubergine puree, carrots, chargrilled courgettes and rosemary roasted potatoes in a red wine jus.

The garden: with seating on the lawn, the pretty gardens afford a pleasant environment for afternoon tea or a three course meal.

10. The Assembly House, Norwich

One of our favourite spots in the fine city of Norwich is The Assembly House. Opulent, decadent, sophisticated yet friendly and inviting, this Georgian house with restaurant and rooms plays host to art exhibitions, music events and private parties.

The garden: the lawned courtyard at the front of the house, complete with a beautiful fountain, is the spot where food is served all day from breakfast or afternoon tea to Sunday lunch or a three course dinner.

11. Rocky Bottoms, West Runton

Coming from a want to share Norfolk’s fresh seafood with hungry diners, Rocky Bottoms in West Runton was formed. Try a Weybourne half grilled lobster with garlic butter, chunky chips and salad or a crab, garlic and chilli linguine with parmesan and garlic bread.

The garden: grab a seat on the terrace with arresting sea views of West Runton beach; big skies and golden sands make the food taste that bit better.

12. The Dining Rooms at Cinema City, Norwich

Cinephiles will be familiar with The Dining Rooms at Cinema City in Norwich, the perfect place for pre-film drinks, snacks or something more hefty. With visitors describing their experience here as “relaxing”, “pleasant” and home to “amazing food”, you can enjoy fine dining in the artsy Norwich sector.

The garden: enter the picturesque courtyard, strung with fairy lights and dotted with tall plants, this oasis of peace surrounded by historical buildings is a lovely spot to find yourself for the evening.

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