Food & Drink
Andrew Hirst heads off to The Stables at the Royal Norwich to see what all the fuss is about… hole in one or lost ball?
During these unprecedented times we currently find ourselves living in it was a treat to be heading to the Royal Norwich for lunch. This was our first visit to the highly recommended Stables restaurant and the first time we had visited any restaurant since the lockdown began. My wife and I had a table booked for one o’clock and the entrance of the Royal Norwich Golf Club on the Weston Estate takes you on a beautiful meandering journey surrounded by trees and lusciously kept greens. The Weston Estate is the new home of the Royal Norwich after moving from the previous site in Hellesdon, with a £15m investment last September.
The Stables restaurant, nestled amongst the 350 acres, is open to non-members, allowing access to the beautifully crafted club house which sees the existing period building on the site seamlessly merged with the new modern additions. If golf isn’t your thing then social memberships are available for £130. This price seems an absolute bargain when you see the bundle of goodies and benefits included in the price ¬ one complimentary cooking demonstration, a complimentary bottle of Adnams Prosecco on your birthday, complimentary room hire for one private event for the year, one complimentary taster session with their personal trainer and discount on future classes, one complimentary taster session with one of the golf pro’s, priority booking windows and exclusive event pricing, up to 20% discount on food and drink, plus all new members receive £50 credited to their member’s card to use on food and drink. Quite a hefty haul for such a low membership price. I must admit that my head was certainly turned at this and it was a discussion point on the drive home.
The inside of The Stables restaurant is everything you would expect. Light, contemporary and spacious, with a sense of timeless luxury. A vast glass wall at one end frames the views of the golf course and large sections of this slide back inviting the outside in. A wonderfully cool place to sit and enjoy a glass of chilled wine on a summer’s day. Outside there are plenty of tables to enjoy the stunning views if you are feeling a little more alfresco.
As everything has changed in the world of hospitality over the past few months it was difficult to know what to expect. The team at the Royal Norwich have left nothing to chance. One way systems, clear signage, hand sanitiser cleaning stations, the staff wearing all of the appropriate PPE and the tables have been spaced further apart, which has reduced the overall seating capacity. I am certain that many more initiatives and precautions had been implemented, but what the Royal Norwich have achieved exceptionally well is the fact that they make the guests feel ‘normal’. It transported me back to a time before all of this started and pandemic story-lines were just a thing of Hollywood. The only thing that makes it noticeable are the face masks, but this is something we are all coming to terms with. The staff worked hard, very hard, in the background and achieved an exceptional level of service under the challenging circumstances the restaurant industry finds itself enduring in the present day. Each staff member exudes a sense of calmness. Well drilled and professional. Leaving the house I felt anxious, but seated at my table reading the menu I felt relaxed.
The menu itself is a little smaller than pre-lockdown, but this is to be expected during current climes. It had a hearty selection of mains to choose from including a battered cod fillet, Norfolk Curing House smoked ham with hens eggs and chips, and a beef and lentil keema curry. Along side this was a variety of pizzas, snacks, sandwiches, salads and Norfolk grazing boards.
I opted for the pork and leek sausages, battered onion rings, creamed potato served in a batter pudding with lashings of rich gravy. This is an old favourite of mine which I had missed over the past few months. A dish, which in one respect, seems simple and classic, yet some establishments can get oh so very wrong. I wasn’t disappointed. The mash was smooth and soft, the sausages were full of flavour and the onion rings were super crisp. However the star of this ensemble was the gravy. Luxurious, with a fabulous depth of flavour. I would have been quite happy with a large bowl of this gravy and a few slices of bread to mop up every last drop.
My wife, Lorraine, who is the more diet friendly of the two of us, selected the salad with the warm mushroom and spinach tartlet, although there was a secret side of thick cut chips I promised would go unreported if I could sample a couple to dip in my gravy. The tartlet was made with a light touch and the salad was nicely presented with a selection of leaves, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, croutons and chilli pearls. For anyone who has not had chilli pearls then you must seek them out as they are delicious.
To be honest I had my eye on two options from the dessert menu; a warm chocolate brownie with pistachio ice cream or the raspberry and meringue slice ¬ but the main had gotten the better of me and I decided to call it a day.
After the whole experience my wife has contemplated learning golf, however the nearest we will both most likely get to the greens is a social membership ¬ which seems more and more like a great option each time I think about it. The Stables offers a great selection of options for hospitality, from dining to special occasions and meetings to conferences, they really can cater for the lot, all made possible with the multifunctional rooms. They also have the 1893 Microbrewery, making the Royal Norwich the only golf course in the UK with its own microbrewery, producing and serving Norfolk craft and vintage ales.
It is a wondrous place in which anyone could quite happily while away many an hour enjoying the fayre or just relaxing in the surroundings with a G&T… I really can’t recommend it highly enough.
For more information contact:
Royal Norwich Golf Club
The Weston Estate, Weston Hall Road, Weston Longville, Norwich NR9 5JZ (Sat nav: NR9 5JE)