PUBLISHED: 06:15 08 September 2014
After a major refurbishment, the Fritton Arms on the Somerleyton Estate promises fantastic food in a traditional pub atmosphere, writes Rachel Buller.
Anywhere that has a starter called Baron Bigod on its menu is already on to a good thing. For those in the know, it is of course a Suffolk cheese, and something I needed to try.
The Fritton Arms – once the Fritton House hotel – is part of the sprawling Somerleyton Estate and opened in April as a country pub. Its menu is an enticing mix of good traditional pub food and delicate fine dining inspired dishes with plenty of great local ingredients.
Inside, the old building is warm and inviting and manages to achieve that rare thing of still feeling like a proper old fashioned pub rather than a posh restaurant masquerading as such. There are lovely views, plenty of open fireplaces and even a traditional billiards room.
As we studied the menu at the bar, manager Ben Davenport was happy to answer any questions and to chat about the specials. Our waitress was also friendly and refreshingly well informed about every dish.
My husband chose the cured salmon with pickled veg (£6) for his starter, which was absolutely delicious, with large chunks of tasty salmon. I went for the Baron Bigod (£6.50), crusted with almond, herbs and lemon, then warmed in the wood-fired oven to make it gooey and even richer in the middle. Served with flavoured fresh bread, it had a welcome kick to it and was indulgently creamy.
For main course, I chose the haddock with saag aloo and a poached egg from the specials’ board and it did not disappoint. A large piece of fish, perfectly cooked, served atop delicately spiced curry potato, which was punchy but not overpowering. Bringing it all together was the rich egg, still runny in the middle.
My husband went for the sirloin steak (£20), sourced from the estate’s own herd of Welsh Black cattle. Served rare, it was incredibly tender and there was no scrimping on the portion size. Served with a juicy grilled mushroom, beef tomato, really crispy onion rings and hand-cut chips, it was the perfect pub dish.
Outside there is a large sunny terrace overlooking the park and with the wooden fort and ever enticing enormous bouncy pillow of Fritton Lake within sight, the pub has set itself as a great place to come as a family. While there isn’t a set children’s menu, the kitchen will make any dish into a child’s portion. Speaking as a mother of two adventurous eaters, it is always refreshing to go somewhere which doesn’t assume that all kids eat is sausages or chicken nuggets. The menu also includes authentic Italian recipe wood-fired pizzas cooked to order, which are great value from £9.
Despite my predictable protestations of being far too full, the dessert menu proved tempting. Deciding it would be the light option, I chose the mango cheesecake with treacle bites and yogurt and honey granita (£6). The cheesecake was light and creamy and the mango flavour gave a real sharpness. The treacle bites were a morish, super-sweet contrast and the yogurt and honey granita was cooling and refreshing.
We both left feeling suitably impressed. It will definitely be somewhere we return to in the summer with the children – it’s rare to find a place to visit where the children can explore and play, that has a proper “grown-up” pub offering tasty, excellent quality food.
Expect to pay
Main meals £10-£22
Fritton Arms, Church Lane, Fritton, NR31 9HA; 01493 484008