There are several reasons to pay a visit to the Parson Woodforde restaurant and freehouse if you live in Norfolk and want a decent eating-out experience.
Firstly, it’s out of town location means there’s lots of free parking, and enjoying plenty of space, you won’t feel you’re ‘on top’ on any other diners’ tables. There are also some very lovely rooms if you don’t fancy driving back afterwards.
Second, of course, must be the food. Now under the command of the highly experienced and well-known Head Chef, Eden Derrick (formerly of The Wildebeest), the kitchen turns out some seriously good food, whether you’re dining from the ‘A la Carte’ Restaurant Menu or the more informal Bar Menu. Prices are reasonable and by employing as much seasonal and local produce as possible, you can be assured of freshness and, ultimately, tastiness.
Finally (although I could go on) is the venue itself. A 4-star Inn (enjoyEngland), 4-star AA, AA-rosette dining pub, The Parson Woodforde was reopened exactly two years ago after extensive refurbishment, and it shows. From the bar to the toilets, it seems like nothing has been overlooked and everything has been carefully styled and fitted to look warm and welcoming, but fabulous. Toss into the mix the fact that this establishment is pretty darn family friendly and you have a very serious contender in the running for one of Norfolk’s top restaurants.
We dined there last Friday, and arriving on a dark and dismal evening, the yellow glow inside was immediately beckoning.
The restaurant part, when we arrived, was about half full – some larger groups, a few couples. Clearly this is quite a ‘special’ place to dine out on a Friday evening – most people were dressed up. The staff were attentive and friendly from the outset, being on hand without being overbearing.
The Restaurant Menu is concise (I like this) – a choice of 5 starters, 6 mains and 6 desserts. There was one vegetarian option in each course and two gluten free main choices.
For my starter I took the veggie option – Cauliflower Tempura, Squash Puree, Poached Raisins, Curry Oil & Apple Caramel (£5.95). It was absolutely delicious. The perfect portion size, presented beautifully, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It may sound exotic to some, but trust me, it worked without having to be over the top.
My Partner chose the Roast Suffolk Pork Belly, Chorizo, Chilli Jam & Pineapple Relish (£6.50). He says the Pork was cooked to perfection and that the combination of flavours was “amazing”.
This was washed down with a nice glass of Rose (available in 3 sizes of glass – ideal if the person you’re with is driving, as I was).
For the main course my Partner opted for the Pan Fried Fillet of Sea Bass, Saffron Butter Potatoes, Roasted Piedmonte Pepper, Chorizo Sausage & Salsa Verde (£17.50).
I had the veggie option again, which was Wild Mushroom, Binham Blue and Spinach Gallette, Locally Grown Runner Beans, Roquette & Parmesan Salad & Truffle Oil (£12.95).
The mains arrived on considerable rectangular plates, which had quite the ‘wow’ factor when placed down. Wonderfully, the food lived up to the high expectation set by the appearance, being extremely tasty. Mine was also quite filling, and though I did finish it all (rude not to when it tasted so good!), I would have probably been just as fine with one Gallette instead of the two!
Having enjoyed two amazing first courses, the desserts maintained the high standard. My Cinnamon Panncotta, Candied Fig, Blackberries & Apple Puree (£5.95) was criminally luscious (believe me, this is not the same Apple Puree you feed to weaning babies), whilst my Partner’s Lemon Cheesecake, Lemon Drizzle Cake, Lemon Curd & Orange Granita (£5.25) was wonderfully fresh and mouth-watering. The small homemade lemon-y marshmallows (which we were told were created by Sous Chef John Iverson) were utterly amazing.
In all, the meal, and indeed the experience, was wonderful and one I’d gladly recommend. The food was incredible, the service faultless and the atmosphere warm and relaxed, but also quietly high caliber. Pretentious and snobbish, The Parson Woodforde is not. But it might well be, for it has much to boast about.
On Friday 2nd November, The Parson Woodforde is holding a celebration to welcome their Head Chef Eden Derrick and also mark their 2nd Anniversary.
Enjoy canapés and live music, a ‘mini beer festival’ and a free prize draw from 6.30pm. All welcome!
The Parson Woodforde.
Church St, Weston Longville,
Norwich, Norfolk, NR9 5JU.
Tel: 01603 881675.
(All pictures taken on the evening, on an iPhone).