Published in Feast, issue 40 – October 2019.
The Kings Head at Letheringsett is one of those classic hidden gems, if you ask me. It’s just a stone’s throw, as they say, from Holt, but if you’re driving to, say, Blakeney for a day out, you might just miss it, as it’s set back ever so slightly from the main road.
It is one of those Anglian Country Inns, and so is from the same family as The White Horse and The Jolly Sailors in Brancaster Staithe, so you kind of know what you’re getting – although each has its own individuality and charm. The King’s Head has just has been awarded Local Gem in the 2020 Good Food Guide.
First things first: I would suggest that the beer garden is up there amongst the best in Norfolk. The main, enclosed garden is very kid friendly and I reckon it would’ve been a pretty perfect venue for any open air cinema screenings over the summer. Hey, we may just have one of those mild October half-term holidays, so it might not be too late to sit out in the garden with a beer or two.
Inside, there’s a proper locals’ bar to one side, offering a good selection of real ales on tap, including their very own Brancaster Brewery ales – based at The Jolly Sailors – plus a host of guest ales. I had a pint of Pintail (one of the Moongazer Ales from The Norfolk Brewhouse) before dinner. And there’s also a good range of local gins (as befitting somewhere which hosts an annual gin festival each summer).
On the other side is the restaurant at large. The team takes great pride in sourcing the best produce from the best local suppliers for the menu, so there’s a real taste of Norfolk on offer here. Meat is sourced from British farms, shellfish comes direct from Brancaster Staithe (where else?) and The Kings Head is a proud member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association. Oh, and what I particularly like about it is the fact that bread is baked in the kitchen every day with spelt flour from Norfolk’s only flour producing watermill situated next door – it doesn’t get more local than that.
There were two menus to choose from. For starters, I had the heritage tomato and basil salad, with rocket pesto and Parmesan crisp, and my partner had the Cromer crab cakes, with chive aioli, and pickled cucumber salad. And for mains, I had beetroot and goats cheese tart tatin, with pine nut and rocket salad, whereas he had pork belly, with confit potatoes, leeks, carrots, apple pureê and jus.
It’s all very dog friendly, which is always a good sign in my opinion, and at dinner we got chatting to some fellow spaniel owners, wondering if ours would have been quite as well behaved had we brought them with us.
For dessert, we shared a cheese board – a goodly selection of British cheeses, with biscuits, celery and apple chutney – and took it back out into that beer garden to enjoy the last of the summer sun.
There are four bespoke bedrooms at The Kings Head. We were in one at the front, overlooking picturesque parkland. It was all very cosy and comfortable and I’m pleased to report that coffee came courtesy of Grey Seal, based in nearby Glandford.
Breakfast the following morning was back down in the restaurant – The Kings’ Full English for him (Norfolk sausage, back bacon, black pudding, slow baked tomato, mushrooms, baked beans, hash brown, and egg whichever way) and The Kings’ Vegetarian for me (with veggie sausage and spinach in place of the meat).
After breakfast, and checking out, we paid nearby Letheringsett Watermill a visit. The award winning tourist attraction is famous for its 100 percent wholewheat flour from locally grown wheat. Step inside and it really is like stepping back in time, And did you know they have started hosting a Farmers’ Market there, on the third Saturday of the month (next one will be on October 19)?
And of course nearby Holt is always worthy of a visit. We were there around the time of Holt Festival, so there was even more of a buzz than usual, and the newly rebranded Holt Chamber of Commerce (now known as LoveHolt) is aiming to put the place even more firmly on the map.