The Buckinghamshire Arms, Blickling | www.bucksarms.co.uk
Sarah Hardy enjoys lunch at The Bucks Arms, next door to Blickling Hall in North Norfolk
Where did you go?
A party of four of us – two couples – went to the Bucks Arms, right next door to the Jacobean Blickling Hall, a terrific National Trust property just outside Aylsham.
What’s the vibe?
It’s a very friendly place, with walkers, dogs, cyclists, families and cosy couples all there when we visited for lunch one Saturday. There is a large garden and they have put up a marquee for a bit of protection from the weather, with lots more tables spaced out in the garden. The pub is a 17th century former coaching inn and is lovely inside, with lots of beams, pamment floors, woodburners and more.
Who’s in the team?
This is one of the Colchester Inns Group, a Norfolk-based, family-run pub group who also have, amongst others, The Recruiting Sergeant at Horstead and The Ship in South Walsham.
What do we need to know about the menu?
There are lots of favourites here and meat comes from Swannington Farm to Fork, so expect very good steaks and burgers. There’s plenty of local produce, too, like Cromer crabs, plus a vegetarian selection including a chickpea and cauliflower masala. Be warned – portions are big! There’s a separate children’s menu and Sunday has its own menu.
What’s the price range?
Starters and desserts are from £6, while mains are between £14 and £26.
One friend opted for two starters rather than a straight main course which was a good decision, I thought. She had baked Camembert with breaded asparagus, onion marmalade and toasted rye bread at £9 which was good and gooey – with the Camembert spreading like butter on the toast. She added in pork belly satay skewers with a tasty peanut sauce and a cucumber and bean sprout salad and dived straight in!
Well, if there is fish pie on the menu, I struggle to see any further. This one, at £17, came with a crab Thermidor sauce, cheese and parsley mash and peas and spinach. It was fairly enormous, pretty creamy and took some finishing – but I managed. My husband had a classic steak burger with smoked cheese and bacon, skinny fries, onion rings and coleslaw which were demolished, even though he doesn’t, apparently, like onion rings, while the final team member had beer battered fillet of cod with chunky chips, peas and tartar sauce at £15. This was another hit and fired us all up for a brisk walk in the surrounding countryside!
None of us could really manage anything although I did like the sound of the Eton Mess ice cream sundae and the sticky toffee pudding. But us girls decided to share a chocolate brownie at £7 which came with salted caramel ice cream and chocolate sauce which was very good indeed.
What about dietary requirements?
The menu asks you to talk to the staff about any particular requests.
Tell us about the drinks
Real ales are a strong point, with Woodfordes, Grain and Wolf brews all available. I had a glass of San Antonio Pinot Grigio rose from Italy at £5.65 which was smooth and just right as a lunchtime tipple.
Anything else we need to know?
Small plates are available such as crispy Thai chilli beef and salt and pepper squid which might suit those with smaller appetites. There are also four bedrooms, should you fancy a stay over, when allowed.
Food is accessible here, with established local suppliers used. It is superbly positioned to enjoy the National Trust property and its wonderful parkland.
At present food is served Monday to Thursday from noon to 7.30pm, on Fridays and Saturday from noon to 8pm and on Sundays from noon to 7pm.