Featured in Feast, issue 38 – July/August 2019 – Spotlight Feature
It is just over a year since The George and Dragon at Newton by Castle Acre, near Swaffham, reopened its doors after a dramatic make-over which saw it transform from a rundown place to something quite special.
The pub, which dates back to the 18th century, is now a super family friendly, dog welcoming place with lashings of style. It’s been opened up, with lots of little rooms made into a spacious, contemporary spot which still pays homage to its historic past.
Original beams, fireplaces, stripped wooden floors, and exposed brickwork are mixed with trendy lighting, church pews and various objets d’art.
There is a lot to look at – I loved the book-lined room – while another area has two little portholes so you can peep in and see what’s happening!
It is all very clever and done with a sense of humour by Tiffany Turner, who recalls what it used to be like: ‘It had been shut for several years, it had been flooded and there were birds flying about, but it had an amazing feel to it.’
You can dine throughout and there’s also a great bar area with a solid oak bar and high stools where you can try one of the many gins or perhaps a pint of Ghost Ship, Wherry or one from nearby Beeston Brewery. Wines are supplied by Lea and Sandeman.
And there is also a lovely outdoor terrace where a grapevine is starting to sprout over the pergola. Chunky wooden tables and chairs are aplenty and there’s a nearby play area where the children can let off some steam!
The menu comes under the watchful eye of Tiago Rodrigues, who has a Portuguese heritage, so expect masses of fresh vegetables and herbs. Dishes are always seasonal, with meat coming from HV Graves of Briston and the surrounding rich farmland providing much fruit and veg. Look out for a good choice of both vegan and vegetarian dishes, too, including Dragon Bowls, packed with, say, flatbreads, tahini, charred beetroot, coconut raita or Portuguese peppers.
There are regular tapas evenings which are especially popular, and a set price lunch, of two or three courses (£14 and £18 respectively), is another hit. Children are catered for with the Little Dragon menu and my eye caught the milkshake list, while I’ve heard the sundaes are rather special. Breakfast is served from 8-10am and Sunday roasts are crowd-pleasing with vegan and veggie options, too. The chickpea and lentil Wellington sounds good!
Part of the deal here is the eco-friendly Pig Shed Motel next door. It is independently run and offers 10 rather swanky bedrooms. As you’d expect, they keep the cool vibe going, with muted colours, clean lines, and feature walls. Look out for a Lucy Boydell piggy picture in each room, too, which are great fun!
Green credentials are fulfilled with a rainwater recovery system which provides water to flush toilets, while solar power provides the hot water and underfloor heating is supplied via an air-source heat pump.
All rooms are ensuite, have big tellies, little fridges and all of those vital mod cons like irons. One caters for disabled visitors, there are two family rooms, and several are dog friendly, too. Parking is great and there are lovely grounds, with plenty of space for little ones and their four-legged friends to roam! Look out for the electric car charging points and a ‘virtual’ key system.
Finally, mention must go to this rather lovely part of Norfolk. It is a little unknown, and is undulating which makes it that bit different – and nearby Castle Acre is a gem of a place, with its castle and priory. It’s jam-packed with great walking, the River Nar gently meanders through it and you are handy for both Norwich and the North Norfolk coast.
There’s volleyball every Saturday in the summer, a Surf n Turf BBQ on July 20, and a beer festival on August Bank Holiday weekend (August 23 to 25). Plus lots more.
The George and Dragon, Swaffham Road, Newton By Castle Acre.