Reviewed in Feast issue 44 – March 2020
As much as we love going to Burnham Market (the reasons are obvious, and we also have friends there), the stretch of the B1135 from Fakenham to Burnham does little to endear you to the area, although it passes through the pretty Creake villages en route.
The surface is awful! Likening it to a roller coaster is not an exaggeration, as my wife, who has fearlessly ridden The Hulk in Florida, will testify.
However, such things are not sufficient to put us off the expectation of a good evening out at NoTWENTY9. We well remember this beautiful Grade II listed building in its previous incarnation, and have to say what a great job has been done here, with many of the original features retained.
And you’re sure of a warm welcome, factually and metaphorically speaking. The entrance has a cosy bar area at each side and the building’s double-sided log burner provided a most welcome warmth on a not particularly pleasant winter’s evening.
Equally warm was our greeting by Rachael Parke, who runs the restaurant with her chef husband Jeremy. Rachael looks after the front of house side of the business and, between them, they have more than 40 years’ culinary and hospitality experience. Both are dedicated to inspiring and training the next generation of hospitality candidates, as well as the ongoing development of current staff.
First impressions of the dining room are its cosiness and clever lighting (we particularly liked the tiny light strings inside the bottles on each table). There is a gleam about the wine glasses and silverware which promises much for the diner, and our meal certainly proved the point.
Fortified by glasses of the sharply refreshing Portuguese favourite Vino Verde we quickly made our menu choices.
Jeremy cooks in an open kitchen, on a large fire pit which is dramatic, to say the least. And meats in particular, from Swannington Farm to Fork, are recommended along with locally caught fish.
My starter choice was the beef cheek ravioli, served with carrot purée, sauce reform and crisp capers (£9), while my wife selected the carrot mousse, made from salt bake carrot and cream cheese, and served with caraway tuille, Port sultanas, toasted pine nuts and carrot and ginger gel. With beef cheek in the mix I expected an intense favour, and boy was this intense! The pasta was nicely al dente and the capers provided a little extra texture.
The carrot mousse was something of a surprise package but again, it was packed full of flavour.
When my wife chose the hake en papillote (£24), I am sure she didn’t realise what a curtain raiser this dish is! Its arrival at our table caused one or two other guests to admire it and wish they had chosen it! And it tasted as good as it looked. My wife particularly liked the ash roast tiny beets, which came with mussels, saffron potatoes, shitake mushrooms and ras el hanout butter.
I went for the paprika cured belly pork (£22) which was served with cider compressed apple, bubble and squeak fritter, pear chutney, Savoy cabbage and a cider reduction. Pork can suffer from over-cooking, but not this time. Mine was tender and juicy.
The mains menu is varied, ranging from homemade burger and battered haddock to a choice of ribeye and sirloin steaks, with a variety of side dishes.
Puddings include ice cream and sorbets, plus cheese; I had the lemon parfait (£8) which was served with shortbread, white chocolate mousse, lemon gel, a white chocolate shard and honey and whisky sauce. The star of this dish for me was the mousse, smooth as silk and not too sweet.
My wife enjoyed the Champagne poached rhubarb (£8) which was accompanied by tonka bean pannacotta, rhubarb gel, candied rhubarb, champagne sorbet and vanilla milk crumb.
As much as the food, we enjoyed the atmosphere in the restaurant, which was nicely buzzy without being intrusive. This was complemented by service that was efficient and always pleasant.
We could see that NoTWENTY9 fulfils a variety of roles – with food (including a children’s menu) served all day, and snacks available at the bars (dogs are also catered for).
The restaurant is set over two floors and the first floor is also home to the glass wine cellar for wine enthusiasts to admire. Two further private dining rooms are perfect for tables of 8-10 guests wishing to get together and celebrate, with no additional charge, and a bespoke taster menu for a special event can be provided.
The outside courtyard, with an outdoor kitchen, high flint walls, 100 year old olive trees and a wishing well, promised much for a summer visit – and we will definitely be back!
Oh, and if the temptation to really make a night of it is too much to resist, then there are six lovely bedrooms, sitting in their own private gardens.
- NoTWENTY9, Market Place, Burnham Market.
- Call 01328 738498.