Food review, The Farmers, Ormesby: 'Is this place the best in its field?'
- Credit: Liz Coates
The Farmers has been my local for the 20 years I have lived in Ormesby with various different owners ploughing their own furrow to try and make it work.
We have been there for food in the last two decades, but not too often and it's never really been good enough to see us dashing back.
Now, however, after a gorgeous makeover it is offering a stylish new menu which according to its social media accounts is constantly changing, suggesting a chef with ideas.
The new owners at The Farmers, having dropped the Jolly from its name, are keen to bring in a new higher-end food offer that people will travel for.
Since we live nearby it seemed churlish not to give it a go.
The extensive refurb, which saw it kitted out with a new kitchen and new loos, as well as giving it glamorous new look with chandeliers, vines and feathers, is clear to see.
When we arrive at around midday on a Friday we are the only people eating, although there is a gaggle of locals up at the bar and one other table of people having drinks.
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Having ordered our drinks at the bar we chose to sit in one of the booths.
The barman, who was also the waiter and chef while he waited for another member of staff to come on shift, was super helpful.
Chef Ali offered us several dishes that were not on the menu as we deliberated, and said that because everything is cooked fresh he was happy to swap ingredients and also to provide food from the new menu which was being launched the next day.
It all sounded delicious and there were plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.
To kick off I ordered the avocado and crab tostadas with sriracha sauce and my husband had the seafood bisque (one of the off-menu suggestions) both at £7.25.
Mine was beautifully presented and tasted as good as it looked.
The bread was warm and crunchy topped with a flavoursome crab and avocado mix, the sauce adding a burst of flavour. Just the right size for a first course too.
My husband declared his dish "intense and spicy" and was similarly happy with the freshness and perfect warmth, crunch, and freshness of the bread.
For my main course, after much deliberation because the Moroccan lamb sounded so good, I went for the pan-fried seabass with crushed new potatoes, tender stem broccoli, samphire, and saffron hollandaise (£16.50).
Meanwhile, my husband had the Farmers ultimate cheese and bacon burger with a nacho cheese sauce in a brioche bun with fries and slaw (£13.95).
Mine came in a Jenga-style stack which once deconstructed revealed a generous portion of everything (except maybe the samphire, I could have handled a few more sprigs).
The sea bass was nicely cooked and flaky and not at all soggy which is the worst when it comes to fish. Overall the taste was delicate and not overpowering and felt fresh and healthy.
My husband - who often chooses a burger as a good barometer of what is done well - said it was supremely meaty and super filling. The cheesy nacho sauce came in a separate pot but there was an option to have it dramatically suspended and poured over the whole thing which didn't appeal.
Meanwhile the chips were hot and crispy - just about all you can ask from a chip.
We were both pretty full by this point but, damn, that chocolate bomb (£6.95) sounded good.
The chef advised there would be a slight wait as it was cooked from fresh but we weren't in a hurry so it was fine and didn't take long anyway.
My gooey bowl of chocolateyness had part detonated when it arrived, spilling out of its spongey shell, not that it mattered. It was super sweet but delicious, the plump raspberries giving it a kick, and the perfect finisher.
Overall we had absolutely no complaints and applaud the new owners for investing in our local boozer when so many are going to the wall.
In truth it is a bit pricey for a casual visit but its stated aim of being both a proper pub and a serious restaurant - a difficult balancing act - does work and deserves support.
A good location to explore both the Broads and beach. There is plenty of parking and outdoor seating in an Instagram-friendly courtyard garden and benches with parasols. Inside, the pub, restaurant, and toilets are all on one level.
Chef Ali was very friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful going out of his way to suggest different combinations of ingredients.
We paid £78.65 for the two of us and service was included at 10 per cent.
The bill included four alcoholic drinks, two pints of Kronenbourg at £5.50 a pint and two gin and tonics at £4.20 each.
Overall we felt it was in line with other similar pub restaurants and worth the little extra.
My next dish
Having popped in for a drink on a Friday evening (when the pub was busy) and seeing the roasted lamb rump with mint yoghurt, Moroccan couscous, charred vegetables and flat bread go out it looked like a winner. There is a cocktail menu too which I will sample another time.
The Farmers is at 10 West Road, Ormesby St Margaret, Great Yarmouth NR29 3RP, 01493 742921.
If you like this try
The White Swan in Great Yarmouth where the tremendous fish dishes feel a bit special.
The Village Maid in Lound, near Lowestoft, another village pub with a focus on quality food.
Planet Spice - if you are in Ormesby and it's a curry you are after this restaurant is a stone's throw from The Farmers and is well-established and popular.
Our food reviews are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on their experience of the venue when they visited. The establishment is not aware of our visit, is not informed we intend to write a review and bills are paid by the reviewer. The choice of places reviewed is also independent and is not based on venues which do or do not advertise in our publications.