PUBLISHED: 06:45 02 June 2014
Having just returned from Madeira, where many of the restaurants were advertising their dishes with "naff" photographs outside, our first trip on home soil has been to Briarfields in Titchwell. No pictures outside thankfully, and unlike our favoured but very quiet restaurant in Madeira, here there were punters. However, it's a barn-like construction, and you need a lot of customers to fill the void and generate that buzz of an atmosphere.
But we were glad to sit down after the journey and to taste a very good Sauvignon blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand, which was sold by the glass. While looking at the menu we were offered bread from a basket – to pick out ourselves rather than be served.
Confit of duck leg with five-spice terrine was a good starter. The five-spices were a little bit muted but it was perfectly well seasoned and a delicious starter with marinated apricot and sesame salad. The peppered carpaccio of beef was again short of spice and indeed the number of slices, but Da’s modest appetite found, in the end, it was enough after three courses. Rocket emulsion was an innovative, intriguing extra.
My sous-vide haunch of venison was delicious, whether from the beast or the method of cooking, and the pear, a traditional accompaniment, looked good on a fine potato fondant. Interesting that the pot-roasted breast of chicken was in the form of a version wrapped in cling film and steamed. The mousse was tarragon-driven rather a tarragon and wild mushroom combo and short in quantity, however the artichoke and truffle purée and rosti potato contributed to a handsome dish. Both of us are jus freaks and thought the dishes were short in quantity – we asked and got some more immediately.
Sweets seem to be impressive at most places we have reviewed and Briarfields certainly followed this trend. Both the sweets were modern classics. Chocolate and beetroot fondant was simple but neatly spectacular with a good liquid centre. Glazed lemon tart was well executed but we thought the centre would be a little better if a couple more lemons had been added. A fine espresso coffee after a good quality dinner set us up for the road to home.
Briarfields Norfolk Hotel, Main Street, Titchwell, near Hunstanton, PE31 8BB; 01485 210742; www.briarfieldshotelnorfolk.co.uk
Expect to pay around:
Starters £6 to £7
Mains £12 to £22
Meet the chef
Head chef Richard Bargewell
Aged 43 he’s a mature chef, but from an early age Richard had a keen interest in the kitchen. He started his career at Norfolk’s The Sportsman and soon headed to London to work at Aspects Roof Restaurant, fine dining at the Metropole Hotel. After four years he went to the Moulin de la Camandoule in Provence but returned to work in several UK restaurants, including the notable Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath. Richard worked for seven years at The Crown at Westleton, Suffolk, but was lured away by the magnificent north Norfolk coast and Briarfields. His influences are many, having worked with a wide range of chefs and food, giving him a fantastic background. By sourcing the best quality and local ingredients, and using modern techniques of cooking he is still excited to learn about food and cooking. His ambition for the future is to run a delicatessen.