Fit for a Queen
It’s been a while since I’ve frequented Wymondham town centre – thinking about it, it must have been those National Childbirth Trust antenatal classes every Saturday morning, a good 13 years ago.
After all that preparation, I became a mum and my mum became a grandma – and life has never been the same since for either of us! And, due to the circle of life, my dear mum has become something of a lady who lunches of late…
We headed to the Queen’s Head (formerly Kindreds) in the middle of the town. Owner manager Victoria Anderson has really transformed the 17th century inn and it relaunched at the end of last year. This summer has seen the launch of a new terrace area, with my mum much admiring the grasses bordering it. It looks an inviting space while it’s still warm enough to sit outside and enjoy a refreshing drink in the sun.
We sat inside, next to a new mum and her mum, and a three week old baby for my mum to coo over. The atmosphere is all very relaxed (child friendly/dog friendly) and the décor has a golden touch about it: a print of a gold leaf in a frame here, for example, or the head of a gold and black giraffe on a wall there. And what with the dried corn in little vases, it has an autumnal colour scheme – perfect for the season about to come, I’d say.
I was driving, so couldn’t make the most of the wine list (I also noticed they do a guest gin of the week at the bar) but our friendly waitress suggested we try one of their home made Italian style sodas, made with Monin syrups (all priced at £2.95). I had the kiwi, lemon and mint concoction, which looked, with its final flourish of fresh mint, like a mojito. My mum was equally impressed with her peach and mandarin ‘mocktail’, with a mix of fresh and dehydrated orange slices. It turns out they have a dehydrator at the Queen’s Head and they certainly put it to good use.
They do sandwiches at lunchtime, and I couldn’t help but overhear that the grandma on the next table thought her fish finger sandwich with homemade tartare sauce was the best she’d ever had, but we were here for more than a light lunch. And, rest assured, the Queen’s Head serves freshly prepared dishes using the finest local ingredients.
Whilst we waited for our starters, out came some squishy olive and garlic focaccia, on an oblong, dark grey plate and matching bowl for the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
My mum loves soup to start – so much so she almost didn’t bother to ask what it was. It turns out it was onion, potato and Cheddar (£5). ‘Gorgeous’, was the verdict (in fact, she was to use this word quite a lot during lunch) – although it proved quite a bowlful for her.
I had the Italian-inspired feta, sun blushed tomato and garlic arancini, with a mixed olive tapenade and watercress salad (£7). The cheesy balls coated in crispy breadcrumbs were really tasty.
My mum loves fishcake and so asked if she could have the Thai salmon fishcakes, with an Asian salad, Thai dressing and crispy noodles (also £7), as a main. Now, I don’t know if it’s an octogenarian thing, but she’s not the first 80-something I know who’d rather have a starter as a main. She reported that the fishcakes were a little bit on the spicy side for her – I guess the clue was in the fact these had a Thai twist.
Perusing the menu, I had skipped over the specials (although I also heard the lady on the next table but one rave about the market beer battered haddock), and followed my starter with seared fillet of seabass, with crab crushed potatoes, fine beans, samphire and red pepper oil (£16). I loved the fishiness of this dish (the crab crushed potatoes in particular), and you know you’re in Norfolk in the summertime when you’re eating samphire. And I must say the presentation was on point.
We didn’t really have room for dessert, but weren’t going to let that stop us, so we shared a condensed milk parfait, with Pimm’s strawberries, and lavender shortbread (£6). What a perfect summer dessert – condensed milk and strawberries was always my favourite combo as a kid.
Finally, I must just mention there are exciting things happening upstairs at the Queen’s Head, including a whole new bar and dining space. From what I could see so far, it looks well worth checking out – a great place to relax and enjoy one of those guest gin and tonics.
Reviewed in Feast issue 29 – September 2018