Restaurant review - Strattons in Swaffham

Chicken and leek shortcrust pastry pie, with seasonal vegetables

Chicken and leek shortcrust pastry pie, with seasonal vegetables - Credit: Dominic Castle

Strattons, Swaffham 

In an age of instant gratification, it is sometimes good to wait, and we’ve been waiting for years to get to Strattons for dinner – no fault of theirs, of course, just timing. 

So, we had the burden of expectation, something of the ‘should you meet your heroes?’ sort of thing, because Strattons has had a very strong reputation for a long time. 

This Swaffham hotel is a handsome building, flinty and stylish but as we walked towards it, we were politely reversed and sent to the converted barn which is CoCoes Deli by day, Afterfive at Strattons after, well, five. It’s a smart space, more upmarket bistro than white linen and silverware, and the right side of relaxed.  

Binham Blue salad, mustard dressed leaves, dessert pear, roasted walnuts

Binham Blue salad, mustard dressed leaves, dessert pear, roasted walnuts - Credit: Rosie Castle

Kiln roast salmon pate, dill and cucumber pickle, cress, lemon and sourdough

Kiln roast salmon pate, dill and cucumber pickle, cress, lemon and sourdough - Credit: Dominic Castle

We were properly hungry. Three courses were a given; kiln roast salmon pate, dill and cucumber pickle, cress, lemon and sourdough for me, Binham Blue salad, mustard dressed leaves, dessert pear, and roasted walnuts for madam.  

They were ideal summer evening starters (it was pelting down outside, of course) light, full of flavour – my salmon had not been chilled to numbness, which makes all the difference – fresh and crisp. The kitchen was very generous with the Binham Blue and the walnuts, herself reported; happy days. 

Salmon fillet, parmesan, herb and breadcrumb crust, boulangère potatoes, mushroom sauce and greens 

Salmon fillet, parmesan, herb and breadcrumb crust, boulangère potatoes, mushroom sauce and greens - Credit: Rosie Castle

To the main course and Mrs C chose salmon fillet, parmesan, herb and breadcrumb crust, boulangère potatoes, mushroom sauce and greens. It was a super choice; the fish was treated as the real hero, perfectly flaky held together beautifully by that crunchy crust. 

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I had to steer myself away from the risotto; I love it but only as a starter, otherwise it is three mouthfuls of ‘yum’, three mouthfuls of ‘hmmm’ and then ‘how much more of this is there?’ I chose the chicken and leek shortcrust pastry pie, with seasonal vegetables. 

That was the sensible choice; fabulous piece of pie, gorgeously creamy filling, super crust and excellently-prepared and cooked veg. You can ask for no more. 

Chocolate ganache tart on a nutty base with banana ice cream

Chocolate ganache tart on a nutty base with banana ice cream - Credit: Dominic Castle

Irish Mist parfait of meringues

Irish Mist parfait of meringues - Credit: Rosie Castle

Well, we did ask for more; dessert. Mrs C nipped in to claim the Irish Mist parfait of meringues, a sumptuous Baileys-esque treat; I took the chocolate ganache on a nutty base with a globe of banana ice cream. Super-rich, the last square inch of it defeated me. I’d have wrapped it in a napkin and stuck it in a pocket for later but a steely look from across the table dissuaded me. 

It must be so difficult to manage a service under the current restrictions; the Strattons team were outstanding, we felt. The timing was spot-on, with just the right interval between courses, and our servers friendly and courteous without ever using the word ‘guys’. Bravo. 

Dominic Castle 

strattonshotel.com 

Our reviews are unannounced and we pay for our meals.