Dinner at the The Dabbling Duck, Great Massingham

Sometimes pub food is sooo good I just want to move in and stay there forever.

When the view from the pretty pub with wonderful meals is across a village green (complete with two tranquil, tree-fringed ponds) to the medieval church, just across from a Post Office and café busy during the day with a constant stream of shoppers, cyclists, amblers and ramblers, I was ready to sign up for everything Great Massingham in general and the Dabbling Duck in particular, has to offer.

The Dabbling Duck has cosy fireplaces, stone floors, flint walls, wooden beams, shelves full of boardgames and books ideal for flicking through during any lull between courses – and a splendid menu.

The starters alone ranged through soup and squid to grilled globe artichokes with shallot salsa, rapeseed mayo and lemon and poppyseed crackers (my choice) and pigeon with beetroot, braised buckwheat, salted blackberries, pear and walnuts (my husband’s choice.) Or there were small plates of marinated olives, pastrami and pickles, duck brioche loaf and herb butter...

Both our starters looked beautiful – and tasted just as good, each ingredient of each ensemble worth savouring. We’d been blackberrying earlier that morning, but found nothing as glossy and glorious as the berries here, served salted with dense and succulent pigeon.

Great British Life: Grilled globe artichokes at The Dabbling Duck, Great Massingham. Photo: Rowan Mantell Grilled globe artichokes at The Dabbling Duck, Great Massingham. Photo: Rowan Mantell

Inspired combinations of flavours, colours and textures continued into our main courses (and through to pudding too, this really is an impressively devised and delivered menu.)

I chose from the specials menu, chalked up on a bar board, and also mentioned as soon as we were comfortably seated at a roomy window table. The service was faultless – our two waitresses smiley, friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. The atmosphere was relaxed despite every table being full of couples, families, groups of friends.

My meltingly tender pollock was served on succulent smoked fennel, and saffron confit potatoes, surrounded by preserved lemons and feta, and courgettes in a gloriously deep green herb sauce.

It was fabulous.

Across the table the burger, served with beef dripping fries and red cabbage coleslaw, was thick and meaty and the chips plentiful and moreish. None of your artistically stacked eight-chip Jenga here, there is no danger of leaving the Dabbling Duck hungry.

If the desserts had been run-of-the-mill I would probably have been able to resist. But pistachio cake, Earl Grey macerated strawberries and Earl Grey cremaux with strawberry sorbet? It’s not something I regularly eat (until I move to Great Massingham, ideally into one of the Dabbling Duck’s luxury dinner, bed and breakfast rooms.) It was predictably delicious, the cake moist and nutty, the cremaux creamy and dreamy. I’d initially suggested sharing - thankfully my husband chose a sorbet so I was left to devour the cake alone.

The Dabbling Duck also serves Sunday roasts, has regular woodfired pizza evenings and will be hosting a seafood festival on November 17 and 18.


Rowan Mantell

Our review visits are unannounced and we pay for our own meals