Restaurant review: Stoke Mill, Stoke Holy Cross
PUBLISHED: 12:01 27 February 2018
Once the home of Colman's mustard, Stoke Mill has always had a strong connection with the Norfolk food scene - and this highly regarded restaurant is worthy of its heritage
Stoke Mill, nestled on the River Tas, might be steeped in some 700 years of history, but step inside and this is very much a modern fine dining experience.
From the outside, the enormous and impressive white weather-boarded building might look cavernous, but inside the simple classic décor and low beams create a warm welcome and cosy atmosphere on a blustery, cold night.
The à la carte menu is short but sweet. My husband chose the hand-dived scallops, Dingley Dell pork belly and Granny Smith apple; for me it was the salt cod, soft quail’s egg, chorizo and roasted red pepper.
While we waited, a small box of complimentary delights arrived at our table – goat’s cheese filled cones, flaky melt-in-the-mouth cheese straws and mini cheese tartlets hidden in a secret drawer, along with delicious warm rolls served in a little hessian sack. It all proved impossible to resist.
When the starters arrived, the scallops were silky in texture and matched perfectly with the saltiness of the pork and sweetness of the apple. The salt cod dish looked nothing like you would expect – in fact it looked more like a giant scotch egg served on an earthy blob of ketchup. But it tasted even better than imagined. The little quail’s egg hidden inside the cod cake was perfectly runny and the rich roast pepper sauce added just the right sweetness. My only gripe – the somewhat limp chorizo slice on top looked as though it came from a supermarket selection pack; not that it affected the taste.
For main courses the choice was limited but there was something for most tastes. While most high-end restaurants love nothing more than deconstructing a British classic, in this case, the beef fillet, red cabbage, braised beef pie, chips and port reduction was refreshingly reconstructed as a simple, good plate of pie and chips with the addition of the most beautifully tender beef fillet on the side.
The wild mushrooms, risotto, broad beans, Parmesan and baby leaf salad was an unexpected riot of colour; bright and bold, with earthy flavours and textures to match and little surprise ingredients thrown in – such as the delicious pickled plums.
The dessert menu was too good to ignore – and for me it was definitely a case of saving the best until last. The heavenly hot fondant, cut open to allow the rich chocolate to flow like lava on to the plate; crunchy chunks of honeycomb adding bite and the dense and delicious homemade aero – a definite chef’s indulgence.
The food at Stoke Mill is excellent, the service is warm and knowledgeable and the little extras – the pre-starter and the petit-fours with the coffee – all add to the dining experience. It isn’t cheap, but for a special occasion or for fine dining connoisseurs, the food cannot be faulted.
Stoke Mill, Mill Rd, Stoke Holy Cross, Norwich NR14 8PA; 01508 493337; stokemill.co.uk
From the A La Carte menu:
Starters £8 - £11
Mains £16 - £27
Desserts from £8