Restaurant review: Cast Iron Grill at Sprowston Manor

PUBLISHED: 15:34 13 November 2017

Cast Iron Grill at Sprowston Manor

Cast Iron Grill at Sprowston Manor

© Julian Ward

This month Dominic Castle runs the rule over Sprowston Manor’s popular grill restaurant

Cast Iron Grill at Sprowston ManorCast Iron Grill at Sprowston Manor

When I was an inky schoolboy, the woodwork shack had a motto nailed up; a contraction of a quote from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, it said: ‘The Supreme Excellence is Simplicity.’

I suppose it was put up to temper the ambitions of any 14-year-olds who thought they were the next Thomas Chippendale, but unlike much of what I was taught at school, those five words stuck fast and, in a ever more complicated and fast-paced world, have ever more resonance. It was certainly a phrase that popped into my mind when we dined at Sprowston Manor’s Cast Iron Grill.

Here you will find no foams, airs or bonbons; that is certainly not to say that the menu is dull, but that it is not writing cheques that the kitchen cannot cash. We arrived a touch early – really early – in fact we sat alone in the handsome grill room for a while as aperitifs were imbibed and the card perused.

Cast Iron Grill at Sprowston ManorCast Iron Grill at Sprowston Manor

I opened my account with three fat scallops on a puree of spinach. They were beautifully cooked, if a pinch over-seasoned, and the crisp pancetta added a nice texture. The present Mrs Castle chose Severn and Wye smoked salmon, which came with beetroot, watercress and toasted hazlenuts and was delightfully sweet, soft and well-flavoured.

To the main course and, skipping over the Burger and Handhelds section of the menu, I decided to max out with a fillet steak and see what mettle the Cast Iron had when it came to premium beef. The answer was pretty good; the fillet was thick and cooked just about spot-on, perhaps just below the medium-rare ordered but not enough to warrant a return to the grill. The accompaniments were fine, with old-school fries rather than those faddy, cheffy chips which are for me too often waxy and un-chiplike.

Mrs C took the full veggie route with a pumpkin squash ravioli; tough ingredients to get a whole lot of flavour or texture out of but a side of spinach and some pine nuts helped. It was a trencherman’s portion too, so a few envelopes of pasta were returned unopened to allow space for some pud.

Cast Iron Grill bar at Sprowston ManorCast Iron Grill bar at Sprowston Manor

She chose honeycomb cheesecake with a salted caramel ice cream, a good choice, she affirmed, when a big wedge was placed in front of her. It was creamy and sweet with a nice crunch to the honeycomb.

I was seduced by the toffee and ginger skillet pudding, with vanilla ice cream rather than the suggested banana variety. The waitress, a happy soul who clearly enjoys her work, warned me not to touch the hot skillet and it was a full seven seconds or so before I did, but no lasting harm was done.

The pud was a very fine thing, with plenty of fiery stem ginger chunks and a rich toffee sauce, the right way to end a meal on a chilly evening when the wind was whipping the rain against the restaurant windows.

Honeycomb cheesecakeHoneycomb cheesecake

And while we started the evening as Mr and Mrs Billy No Mates the place was a positive hubbub by the time our bill came, so this is clearly a very popular destination (and from our experience certainly worth booking early). That bill was a not insubstantial £90, though that was with the priciest starter and main course; we had also been very tempted by the Wine and Dine menu which offered three courses for two people, plus a bottle of wine, for a sovereign under £60. Excellent value.

Smoked salmon starterSmoked salmon starter

Sprowston Manor Marriott Hotel and Country Club, Wroxham Road, Norwich, NR7 8RP 01603 410871

Expect to pay

Fillet steakFillet steak

Starters from £6.50, mains from £9, desserts from £5.50

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