Surf and Turf by the sea
It sits on the corner of one of Norfolk’s more imposing squares. With its blue and white façade, The Globe Inn creates a striking presence close to the entry of The Buttlands at Wells-next-the-Sea.
Facing on to the greenery of this magnificent square, surrounded by imposing homes, grand buildings and mature trees, it is an integral part of a setting that shows a different – for newer visitors a somewhat unexpected – aspect to the harbour town of Wells we all know and love.
Since Stephen and Antonia Bournes took over in 2013, The Globe has evolved – first with stylish rooms, a mature and varied menu, and now with the latest incarnation, the courtyard rooms and the wood-fired pizza ovens which became a popular feature of summer evenings this year.
We called in on a Friday evening earlier in the summer – you remember, just as the euphoria of the World Cup and Wimbledon was dying down, yet when the East Coast was continuing to enjoy those prolonged, warm sunny days.
As we arrived, drinkers were sat outside (dogs at their feet), chatting and enjoying the warmth while within, the bar was vibrant and amidst them diners enjoyed food from the inn’s classic menu.
I couldn’t help notice the large battered haddock straddling a plate as I passed by on the way to the cosy, revamped, restaurant towards the rear where cushioned bench seats bordered the walls, with wooden tables supported by wrought iron and prints of Wells Harbour scenes adding the nautical colour.
With light, airy, pastel shades complementing the pallor of the wood, the ambience was comfortable, informal, friendly and welcoming.
This is the mood The Globe Inn offers.
Through the windows of the restaurant, the courtyard was alive, a summer scene of flowers and canopied tables, the Italian wood-fired pizza oven in place and above that the 12 new boutique courtyard rooms that had recently been renovated and were already proving popular.
Part of a £675,000 investment project – which includes the restaurant – the new rooms are the latest transformation of the 19th century coach house and former cabaret theatre venue. The two floors, aptly named the Courtyard Wing, feature three ‘apart-hotel’ suites, with kitchenettes for self-catering, four further dog-friendly rooms, five rooms on the ground floor and a selection of large super king, family and easy access rooms.
The interiors champion the Norfolk Coast in design whilst reflecting the quirky charm of The Globe and have been created by Norwich interior designer, Holly Pagani of Salt Interiors.
It was a pleasure to sit and unhurriedly ponder a menu – and I did so while sipping one of The Globe’s famous ‘drinks of the day.’ I had chosen a Norfolk Mule: 25ml of Norfolk Gin, fresh orange, ginger, a sprig of thyme and Fever Tree ginger beer (£6.60).
Nibbling on olives and crunching on crispy oriental pork scratchings (£4.95) before selecting a starter, my wife Sharon and I looked through the varied menu of lighter meals and the classics – such as venison burger and the reclining haddock I had witnessed earlier, as well as Globe curries or the king prawn, tomato and parmesan linguine which was tempting at £15.95.
There’s also the crab salad at £14.95, lunch menu, Wednesday steak nights and Sunday lunches.
But we were here for the evening and I picked up on the pork theme from the main restaurant menu, choosing the sticky marmalade pork rib with yuzu, wonton crisps and vivid green edamame beans on a noodle salad bed (£7.50). Sharon opted for the halloumi with the fresh roasted tomatoes and rocket and basil salad – a starter with a big S for summer that she declared light and moist and described simply as ‘refreshing.’
There was also a duo of mackerel and the delicious sounding crab cake, avocado mousse, smoked salmon and paprika hollandaise.
For the main course, I chose the three-fish stew – a tantalisingly coastal blend of sea bass, haddock and mackerel with smoked haddock potatoes and a shellfish bouillabaisse with herb-garlic aioli and a charred langoustine perched aboard. At £23, this was wholesome, and exquisitely tasty.
Sharon pondered over the rump of salt marsh lamb with feta and Greek salad (£19) but was eventually swayed by the Gateley Angus rib-eye at £24 (substituting the duck-fat chips for sweet potato fries), and she was thrilled with her selection.
There is an extensive wine list but, after my Norfolk Mule, I opted for another Norfolk masterpiece – a pint of Woodforde’s Wherry but Adnams and other ales were also on sale.
After such a feast, dessert is in danger of becoming an afterthought but duty called and we enjoyed a little taste of sweetness that rounded off our meal.
Sharon chose the orange marmalade and yuzu pud and I the raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake which was deliciously sweet, yet light and summery too…at £6.96 each just what the season ordered.
For those, so inclined, there was the cheeseboard – reassuringly Norfolk in its offering at £8.50 with Binham Blue, Wighton and Norfolk Dapple.
Summer evenings on the Norfolk coast are such a delight and the opportunity to sit outside in the courtyard after a meal with a digestif or glass of wine is so appealing…and difficult to resist.
Reviewed in Feast issue 29 – September 2018