Review: A jewel in The Crown

The Crown at Great Ellingham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Crown at Great Ellingham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

On a cold, misty night, the delicious menu at The Crown at Great Ellingham is a very welcome treat, writes Rachel Buller

THERE are many pubs and restaurants in Norfolk of which everyone has heard – some of which richly deserve their excellent reputations as must-go-to places, some of which, well frankly, don’t.

And so I find myself sitting at the table of a pub about which I have heard neither good things nor bad things, in fact I have heard no things about it all - a rather refreshing experience.

And what an unexpected surprise The Crown at Great Ellingham, near Attleborough, is. A delightful, handsome village pub with owners who are determined to ensure it remains a place for locals at the heart of the community while quietly building a reputation with Norfolk foodies.

The staff are welcoming and chatty, and inside the style is simple, cosy and traditional, with the locals at the bar creating a nice, buzzy atmosphere – even on a quiet January evening when most people are hiding away at home.

The menu is simple, boasting hearty yet flavoursome fare and other more subtle dishes, and it changes regularly with a focus on seasonal, local produce. There are also vegetarian options.

For starters, we went for salmon, prawn and crayfish cocktail, and the baked field mushroom, with Copys Cloud and garlic butter, both £6.50.

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I loved the fact it was a proper, traditional prawn cocktail, not dressed as anything else, served in a tall glass with crispy iceberg lettuce, lots of chunky prawns, a little bit of salmon and lashings of tasty Marie Rose sauce.

The mushrooms were covered in garlic butter and gooey melted Copys Cloud cheese from Mrs Temple at Wighton. The big chunk of bread was most welcome to mop up the remainder of the delicious sauce.

With the fog swirling round outside, it seemed only fitting to go for some proper wintry comfort food and the menu was full of it. From steak and ale pie and mash to pan fried salmon, scallops and potatoes. We went for the 10oz rump, hand cut chips, mushroom and peppercorn sauce, £18.95, and slow roast pork belly, calvados sauce, sage mash and baby toffee apples, £14.95.

The belly of pork was delicious. Moist, beautifully flavoured, and best of all it had a crispy, salty piece of crackling which crunched to the bite and then melted in the mouth. The sage mash was delicately flavoured and the unusual mini toffee apples tasted fantastic when paired with a mouthful of pork.

My husband’s steak did not disappoint either. The generous serving of mushroom and peppercorn sauce was warming and rich, and brought the steak – which was perfectly cooked – to life. The chips, big chunky wedges, were piled high, and while this wasn’t a delicate plate of food, it was a big hit.

The Crown was taken over in 2014 by Great Ellingham-based independent wine merchant William Mason, so as you would expect it has an excellent and affordable wine list. It also has a good range of beers and serves coffee and tea.

The dessert menu is a delight too and, despite feeling incredibly full, it was hard to resist. The sticky toffee pudding was warm and sweet with honeycomb ice cream. The passion fruit crème brûlée was crispy and caramelised on top, with a layer of passion fruit and a smooth rich cream underneath, all accompanied by salted caramel ice cream. I didn’t want the crème brûlée to end.

The pub is often fully booked for Sunday lunch and, with a menu offering roasted sirloin of beef with Yorkshire pudding, slow roast belly of pork and roast supreme of chicken with sage and onion stuffing, it is not hard to see why. At £16.95 for two courses and £19.95 for three, plus a children’s menu, it is the perfect opportunity to sample this great home cooked food with all the family.

Expect to pay

Starters from £4.50

Mains from £10.95

Desserts £5.95

The Crown

Church Street Great Ellingham NR17 1LE

01953 797070

Open Tuesday to Saturday, 11am to 11pm, Sundays, 11am to 10pm.