The Orange Tree restaurant review, Thornham, Norfolk
PUBLISHED: 11:30 06 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:32 20 February 2013
Enjoy lunch and a walk at The Orange Tree in Thornham, Norfolk
The futures orange
The Orange Tree, High Street, Thornham, tel 01485 512213
January diet time? Surely not, says your food detective. Combine lunch with a bracing walk and your conscience will be fine!
Its January and you need to get out there and get some, dare we say, fresh air and exercise. And a decent lunch, of course!
Where else to head but our great coastline, and you cant get much better than those wild salt marshes of north Norfolk.
Its an area well served by gastro pubs just think of the White Horse at Brancaster Staithe, the Hoste at Burnham Market, and how about the Orange Tree at Thornham? Its right on the A149 coastal road, so you cant miss it - you might remember it as the Kings Head, which it was for years.
But now its all cool and contemporary, with wooden floor boards, gentle green walls, leather high-backed chairs and a genuinely relaxing, laid-back atmosphere. Theres a cosy bar complete with TV area and open fire, then lots of other little rooms where you can dine in considerable comfort.
Philip Milner is head chef and has notched up a couple of decent awards and its one of those definitely on the up places!
Plenty of smiling staff buzz around but dont go overboard, the wine list is good and then theres the food. As youd expect, much use is made of local seafood and the meat comes from the Sandringham Estate, so you cant say better than that!
One of my ladies-wot-lunch friends and my daughter joined me for this trip on a very blustery day. Its always a hard choice at this time of year to eat or walk first, but we didnt fancy being too bedraggled so ate first.
The pubs website is very good so Id had a little look and had already half made up my mind. Theres a bar classics menu with old favourites like fish and chips, sausage and mash, curry, risotto and burgers all much more cosmopolitan than Im making them sound!
The restaurant menu is fancier, and thus more expensive. It features plenty of fish, wood pigeon, duck breast, rack of lamb and an extremely decent sounding beef filet at 26. Look out for Philips signature chicken and wild mushroom pie, too.
I started with a decent bowl of mussels - well, you would, wouldnt you, given the location. Cooked with a cider, tarragon and bacon sauce for a change, they were thoroughly delicious. Out of the shell they popped, straight into my mouth and slurp went the sauce, too.
My chum went for a fishy soup with plenty of chunky bits and bobs, including cockles and mussels. She loved it so much I wasnt even offered a quick spoonful!
Next saw me tackling cottage pie with a cheesy top, and served with three or four seasonal veggies. I admit to having a thing about vegetables, Im afraid. Despite not being remotely health conscious, I cant get enough of them and have a real problem with places that dish up one soggy piece of broccoli and not much else.
My friend had posh ham, eggs and chips, which again hit the spot. The ham was thinly sliced and the chips were good and fat!
Purely in the interests of research, I managed a pudding; a very pleasant rhubarb crumble, only here the crumble is made from muesli so its ultra crunchy. It also came with a toffee custard and a hefty slice of millionaires shortbread which gave a good chocky hit. We finished with a frothy latte each.
The mini food critic brought along because the Orange Tree prides itself on being child friendly and it jolly well is too was well served by one of the best childrens menu Ive yet come across. There are plenty of options so young diners can mix and match as their often picky tastes dictate.
She started with garlic dough balls and progressed to that old favourite of sausage, mash and all those aforementioned veggies. Great stuff. A dollop of home-made mint chocolate chip ice cream was probably a bit too sophisticated for her - so we helped her out!
When we were all fed and watered, we were ready for our walk. Thornham is magical yet mysterious at this time of year and the imagination quickly turns to tales of smuggling and more. Marvellous.
What we ate
Brancaster mussels with smoked bacon, Aspall cider and tarragon cream, 6.50
Norfolk Coast Fish Soap, with Brancaster cockles and mussels, rouille, black mustard seed and Gruyere cheese straws and white truffle oil, 6.50
Cottage Pie with a cheesy leek mash topping and Norfolk seasonal vegetables, 8
Ham and eggs, 8.50
Norfolk rhubarb, damson and muesli crumble, with millionaires shortbread and toffee custard - 6
Main courses (which include a choice of two side orders), 5.50
Scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream, 2
Small glass of Pinot Grigo rose, 4.50
Small bottle of sparkling mineral water, 1.70
Glass of lemonade, 1.70
Food and drink 9/10
Value for money 8/10