The first thing you should know about the Gunton Arms is that they cook huge chunks of meat above a rip-roaring fire and their eclectic art collection is worth the visit in itself.
On the road between Norwich, towards Cromer, you’ll find this historic country estate nestled between trees and acres (and acres!) of stunning parkland (one thousand acres in fact!) fit for a queen…. or a herd of local deer.
The Gunton Arms is a traditional pub with quirky bedrooms and an inspiring restaurant serving the best of locally sourced ingredients in their dishes. This is a real “treat” destination, of which I was taken to for my recent birthday celebrations, I was seriously one lucky girl.
The pub reflects its owners passion for art and has pieces by the likes of Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst. Not forgetting the surrounding parkland, home to various sculptures and art installations by a whole variety of famous names within the art world. And they bizarrely don’t look out of place throughout the parkland, completely blending in with their natural surroundings, it’s a fun place to explore for endless hours, always spotting something new and smile-inducing.
We enjoyed sipping on cold cider on a particularly warm Saturday afternoon in April, relaxing directly in parkland instead of a tacky pub beer garden. Surrounded by trees, sculptures and birds chirping away, we didn’t feel like we were just 4 miles away from Cromer! The only down side on this particular day was that the famous deer herds were nowhere to be seen, but their droppings were, so they were hiding away somewhere out there. A shame not see them, I’d heard fun things about the Gunton deer herds – *sob*.
The food. Oh my god. The food.
Booking is a must if you want to get yourself seated in the Elk Room.
And trust me, you want to get yourself a table in the Elk Room.
This room has a huge fireplace in the centre, adorned with antlers. A sea of hungry faces watch the cook, Stuart Tattersall, preparing local and seasonal ingredients in front of their very own eyes before searing and freshly cooking huge slabs of meat to order on a roaring open fire, goose fat potatoes an’ all!
Venison from the deerpark and beef from the local herd at Blickling are cooked over the Elk Room fire. You are going to want all of the meat.
Unless you are a vegetarian, then perhaps not.
We enjoyed watching our order being well seasoned, then flame grilled in front of us – we really went for it and ordered the Rib of beef to share (£62.00 is a lot of cash for us normally, but this was a special celebratory occasion, so we were feeling bold) served with roast potatoes cooked in goose fat over the fire and sides of honey roasted parsnips and some Blythburgh pork crackling with apple sauce to munch on before our mains.
Needless to say, this was enough for three people, but we arrived hungry and did it proud, devouring the entire wooden platter of beef, as well as the sides.
This was hands down THE best piece of beef I’ve ever tasted.
The Béarnaise sauce was delicious and a welcome accompaniment to the beef, I could have easily poured a whole jug of this onto my plate, seriously good stuff.
I kid you not, every mouthful was better than the last, it was simply prepared, but the flavour was just incredible.
I literally can’t fault this meal, it was simple, yet one of the best meals of my life.
Everywhere you look there are quirky pieces of art, neon signs and historical kitchen paraphernalia, you never stop your eyes darting around to be nosey as you dine.
If I were to fault anything here, it would be the service, which did let down the establishment ever so slightly. Just little niggles really, but we had no time to read the menu after initially being seated in the Elk Room.
The waitress sat us down and asked us right away what we would like to drink…. A drinks menu might have been useful at this point, of which wasn’t produced, so it got a little embarrassing trying to guess what wine I might like to try.
Luckily I’ve been enjoying Chilean wines of late, so I asked if they had any and they did, so I enjoyed a cold glass of Rosario, Sauvignon Blanc.
The Gunton Arms also serves its own seafood, mussels and Cromer crab caught by local fishermen. The extensive menu should please everyone, including the younger diners around the table with a “grown up” sounding kids menu to keep everybody happy.
We didn’t have room for dessert, however we had a glance over the menu anyway… It all sounded super tempting, but we opted for the bill and headed to Happisburgh beach for a snooze, quite literally.
The beach was empty and so we laid a blanket on the sand and laid in the sun for an hour or so before taking a walk further along and then back up and over the corroding cliff tops for a stunning view back to the car.
We drove back to our Norfolk home via the Norfolk Broads and back through to Norwich for a date night later that evening at my favourite dessert bar in the world, Figbar.
If you haven’t heard me banging on about Figbar yet, where have you been? Read my review here.
For an extra special food retreat, look no further than The Gunton Arms. This was, hands down, one of my most favourite meals of all time.
And the company, oh Bearded one, was as fun and enjoyable as ever, that man has some superb ideas!
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