That’s the spirit
The Kitchen, the new restaurant and coffee house at St George’s Distillery in Breckland, uses its award-winning spirits in many of its dishes. Emma Outten samples Sunday lunch
I’ve often clocked the brown tourist signs for St George’s Distillery, home of The English Whisky Company, whilst driving down the A11 to London.
But I’ve never managed to turn off and pay a visit to England’s first traditional whisky distillery (in more than 100 years). It was built by the Nelstrop family for the specific purpose of producing the very finest English single malt whisky. However, the opening of The Kitchen, next door to the distillery, is what finally lured me in.
Once inside the building, it’s an impressive space. At the front is the Whisky Shop, which offers more than 200 single malts from around the world. And at the back is the restaurant with its high industrial chic ceilings and plenty of natural light coming through the windows – it looks like a lovely place to work in, something which was reflected in the smiles on the faces of the staff who work there (and that includes the far from harassed looking chef who emerged from his kitchen after lunch). Clientele-wise, it appeals to all walks of life – from very young families to the more mature among us!
And ordering is a very relaxed affair – you make your choice and pay at the counter. Although there was a wine list, I thought it much more fitting to sample the St Peter’s The Saints Whisky Beer – with its measure of English Whisky. It was most definitely rich in flavour and probably, in hindsight, a bit strong for a Sunday lunchtime, but, hey, at least I wasn’t driving!
Sunday lunch means just one thing, doesn’t it? A Sunday roast! I had the nut roast (£10.95), served with plenty of seasonal vegetables and a giant Yorkshire pudding, which was great fun. I liked the fact the veggie gravy came in a tiny English Whisky jug so much so I bought one in the shop on the way out. My dining chum, meanwhile, had roast loin of pork (£11.95), which came with crackling and lots of those lovely veg, and disappeared pretty quickly and with much appreciation. Crackling can be hard to get just right but this was nice and crunchy!
The other big thing at The Kitchen is that they do breakfast at any time of day, offering, say, toast with English Whisky marmalade or a St George’s breakfast with local free range eggs (plus award winning Norfolk black pudding as an added extra, if you fancied it). Mains included the ‘Kitchen’ house steak, in a creamy whisky sauce, and there’s a little menu offering little roasts.
For pudding, I had the English Whisky and vanilla crème brulée (£5.95), which was very well presented. You could definitely taste the whisky but it was not too overpowering. They also do crepés, and so my friend had the very traditional lemon and sugar version (£3.50) which was another winner.
However, if you fancy something a little lighter than lunch, you can just pop in for tea and cake. There’s a good selection, including a freshly baked fruit scone with clotted cream and English Whisky raspberry conserve. Or, for something a little lighter, you could just go for an Americano Coffee and an English Whisky Macaron.
It struck me that you don’t have to particularly like whisky to appreciate a trip to The Kitchen. Having said that, if you know someone who really is a fan, then this is the perfect place to bring them to eat, isn’t it? Particularly when you think that St George’s Distillery does tours as well.
On the way out the retail and tourism manager, the very jovial Julian, treated us to a tasting, including of the Chapter 14, The Norfolk – Parched and an interesting Japanese one called Nikka Coffey. My personal favourites were the Nelstrop’s Pedro Ximenez sherry and the Norfolk Nog – a very English take on cream liqueur.
The English Whisky Co and The Kitchen at St George’s Distillery are launching two new tour offers: the St George’s Tour and Lunch Offer (£17.50pp); and the World Whisky and Lunch Offer (£37.50pp). Both include a £5 voucher to spend in the shop on any English Whisky over £30. For more information or to book call 01953 717939.
Reviewed in Feast issue 24 – March 2018