With a new head chef, the Brasserie at Barnham Broom in mid Norfolk, is going from strength to strength, discovers Sarah Hardy
Barnham Broom is one of Norfolk’s leading leisure resorts, with facilities including two golf courses, a spa, a swimming pool, a sports bar, bedrooms and more. But what we’re interested in, of course, is the restaurant.
Known as The Brasserie, it has been open since 2013, and there’s now a new head chef, Mark Elvin, ex The Wildebeest and The Boars, who is working alongside executive head chef James Conway to drive the foodie side of the business forward.
Mark is a lovely chef, with a light touch, and very keen on local ingredients so expectations were high! He is joined front of house by another familiar face, Mark Bryant, who has also worked in several well known local eateries, so there is a strong team here to look after you.
The hotel is super comfy, with muted colours throughout, and lots of sofas and high-backed chairs to relax into. My husband and I did just that in the bar, where it was a glass of fizz for me and a pint of East Coast IPA for him as we inspected the standard menu and the additional specials.
There’s plenty to choose from, with an increasing number of vegetarian and vegan offerings – I spotted a vegan shepherd’s pie plus a veggie Thai green curry, to name but a couple.
But it is an ambitious and interesting menu, with starters including scallops, salmon tartare and a heritage beetroot dish, served with goats’ cheese. I opted for one of the specials – Cromer crab with squid ink spaghetti, chilli and a parsley cream sauce (6.95) which has a lovely warm underbelly to it, with the crab cutting through the creamy herb sauce. I loved it – and mopped up all remaining juices with my tomato bread – which was another hit.
Himself went for the peppered rare beef, with a Norfolk Brie fritter and pickled shallots (£10.95) which was again liked for its distinctive, clear flavours and contrasting textures.
Next was a challenge as there was plenty I could have enjoyed, including a good selection from the grill such as ribeye on the bone. Gressingham duck with smoked garlic purée caught the eye, too, but I settled on lamb shank with parsley mash (£19.95) which just fell off the bone and was delicious. I also enjoyed a side of spinach and chard at £3.95.
My husband dithered over the mussels but eventually tried the fish curry with tomato, coconut and saffron rice (£18.95) which had a bit of heat to it. He really enjoyed this, finishing really rather quickly!
Again my dessert came from the specials and it was special – rum soaked char grilled pineapple, pineapple and lime salsa, toasted coconut marshmallow and coconut sorbet (£6.50). It was basically a pina colada on a plate – and very jolly, too.
Sir, for once, dodged the chocolate torte and for some reason best known to himself, had a liqueur coffee which barely touched the sides – he has one very sweet tooth!
The wine list is again pleasing, and I had a couple of glasses of easy drinking Picpoul De Pinet which is always nice and crisp while my husband is definitely a red man and enjoyed a glass of Chilean Merlot, Rio Alto.
The restaurant seats about 90 people, and attracts a real cross section. When we dined, there was a visiting ukulele group, a cosy couple, and a golfing party, all chatting and tucking in. Certainly there is a friendly, unpretentious atmosphere, and I could well be back for the afternoon tea which is said to be a real treat, too! And, as the weather improves, I’d like to see the views over the greens and who knows – I might even pick up my golf clubs once again.
Reviewed in Feast issue 35 – April 2019