Got it Maid
When it comes to going out for lunch, sometimes it’s worth going off the beaten track a little bit. So, one autumn Saturday, my partner and I broke for the border and made our way to Suffolk, or to, more specifically, the picturesque village of Lound, which is in the area between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth known as Lothingland. The village wasn’t particularly easy to find, but this part of the Waveney district has a charm all of its own, boasting, as it does, the Lound Lakes, so we didn’t mind getting a bit lost. Lound itself, we discovered, has a pretty impressive duck pond, and the country pub, The Village Maid, is located opposite it.
It’s part of the Moss & Co collection, a handful of eating and drinking establishments in the area, namely: The Commodore and The Waveney, both in Oulton Broad, The Jolly Sailors in Pakefield, and The Bell Inn at Carlton Colville.
The Village Maid has been refurbished in the Moss & Co signature style, and, by all accounts, is a much lighter and brighter prospect nowadays, with those previously dark beams given a lick of fresh white paint, and muted green tones throughout.
We ordered our drinks at the bar, and the real ale offering was dominated by the UK’s most easterly brewer, Green Jack, based in Lowestoft. My partner had the Golden Best, an easy drinking session ale, and I had the Mandarina, a bright golden ale brewed with fresh and dry orange peel.
With a name like The Village Maid, the opportunity for a bit of wordplay is ever present: there’s the ‘specially maid’ specials board by the bar, and the ‘classically maid’ mains on the menu, for example. And throughout, the Moss & Co philosophy is to provide locally sourced, fresh and seasonal produce. We were shown to our table and noted the little Kilner jars masquerading as salt and pepper pots, which were a nice touch.
For starters, my partner came over all retro and had a classic prawn cocktail (£7), with grapefruit, cucumber and granary bread. With its curly cones of cucumber, and king prawn on the side just waiting to be shelled, this was a modern twist on the iconic 70s dish.
I had the pea and feta arancini (£6), with a red onion, olive, tomato and mint salad. It was to be the first of three extremely well presented courses, coming as it did on a speckled dark grey plate. The stuffed rice balls covered in breadcrumbs were rather moreish, and the salad was very well dressed with a hint of minty freshness.
For mains, my partner went for the harissa marinated lamb cannon (£21), with glazed apricots, pomme dauphine, and tzatziki. In hindsight, he said he might’ve preferred the slow cooked, well done brisket on the specials board, but, hey, you make your choices in life! Clearly in need of more potato product, he had also ordered a side of skinny fries.
I went for the autumnal sounding root vegetable pot pie (£11), with seasonal veg and mash. The vegetable pie came in a little skillet, and had a tasty sauce. I ploughed my way through the pile of finely cut seasonal veg – it was late summer so there was some samphire buried in there. Even the mash was well presented – it managed to look a little bit like The Gherkin in London, due to its shape and criss-cross detail. All in all, this was a vegetarian dish packed full of that very thing: veggies!
The dessert menu had several favourites, and my partner was tempted by the cheese board, with its selection of local cheeses, but we decided to share a mango cheesecake (£6). I have to say this was really delicious! It came with a scoop of white chocolate ice cream on a bed of white chocolate dust (very on-trend) and we loved the passion fruit and chilli salsa – a fruity little number to finish things off with.
The Village Maid is a relaxed and friendly place, and is now dog friendly – although, for some reason, dogs are only allowed in the front entrance and not the back!
Reviewed in Feast issue 31 – November 2018