Big hand for the King's Arms
PUBLISHED: 06:17 04 August 2014
From the first bite of the warm and wonderfully fluffy-centred bread roll to the final sensational spoonful of limoncello iced parfait with tiny meringues and thyme crumble, this was an exceptional meal.
Head chef Mark Dixon won the Chef of the Year title at the EDP Norfolk Food and Drink Awards 2013 and it is easy to see why.
And it is not just the main evening menu which is a paradise of carefully chosen, imaginatively combined ingredients, and beautifully cooked and presented meals. The lunchtime set menu is impressive too.
We took a two-and-a-half hour walk beforehand, to make sure we could do justice to Mark’s menu, and after battling through a jungle of nettles, thistles, wild rhubarb and similarly rampant foliage along the banks of the charmingly-named Muck Fleet stream, were ready to relax into the King’s Arms.
The pub is at the heart of the village of Fleggburgh, between Acle and Caister. Its pleasantly refurbished restaurant has views on to the garden and neighbouring thatched church. Inside there are diamonds of black slate flooring set into wooden floorboards, photographs of Broadland scenes on the walls, fresh flowers at every table.
Even before we started the set menu looked good value at £15 for two courses, or £20 for three. As the starters arrived, satisfying bowls full of grilled mackerel salad for me, brimming with pretty flourishes of petals and red cress; warm fillet of beef salad with pickled mushrooms, walnuts and truffle oil for my husband (of 24-years to the day; this was an anniversary celebration) it was already obvious this was going to be phenomenal value.
My main course was wild mushroom risotto which was both hearty, and delicately flavoured, with walnuts, parmesan, sage and rocket all part of the substantial platter. My husband’s rosemary baked breast of chicken was probably even better, served as it was with ultra-tender sprouting broccoli, a good wedge of rosti potato and a silky smooth and sinfully rich marsala sauce.
After staying the course for 24 years of marriage, and braving the frenzied foliage of Fleggburgh footpaths, we felt we had earned a dessert too. And the combination of limoncello iced parfait, lemon curd, demerara meringues and thyme crumble was definitely a marriage made in Heaven. Howard was lured away from hot chocolate fondant with pistachio ice-cream and nut biscotti by the temptations of Mrs Temple, and her Binham Blue and accompanying cheese-board beauties.
The King’s Arms also offers a dinner menu and bar snacks, and diners can eat in the bar, restaurant or garden. We took our coffees out into the sunny garden to finish a celebratory lunch which gave a real taste of why this talented young chef is a winner.
The Kings Arms, Main Road, Fleggburgh, Great Yarmouth, NR29 3AG; 01493 368333;
Expect to pay
Light bites about £6-7
Set lunch £15 for two courses or £20 for three
Dinner evening mains, approximately £13-£18
Meet the chef
Mark Dixon was named Chef of Year at the EDP Norfolk Food and Drink Awards 2013. He was head chef at the Imperial Hotel in Great Yarmouth and says winning the title has changed his life: “It’s opened a few doors. I don’t think I would have had my own restaurant without it.”
Mark and his partner, Natasha Rooke, took over the King’s Arms, in December. He runs the restaurant and she runs the bar, and the reputation of the pub and Mark’s food means that they are already often fully booked. “It’s nice being in the countryside and getting to know the people and looking out and seeing the views, and I try to use local ingredients wherever possible,” says Mark.