Food review: Rocky Bottoms serves a delicious helping of seafood beside the Norfolk coast
- Credit: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP
With the promise of sunnier days ahead, reviewer Donna-Louise Bishop’s thoughts quickly turned to picnics and long days spent in the great outdoors. Find out how she got on trying a seafood alternative to outside dining.
Rocky Bottoms is a delightfully quirky restaurant, complete with crab hut, situated in West Runton, between Sheringham and Cromer, along the north Norfolk coast.
What began as an 1800s brick kiln, with a purpose to fire bricks, has grown and developed into something quite special.
Shortly after the Second World War, the place closed down as it was unable to compete with larger competitors. For a long time, it was used as agricultural storage until it collapsed and stood derelict.
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Then the Matthews family came along.
A local fishing family, they lovingly restored the place and in May 2015, Rocky Bottoms was born and its doors opened as a restaurant for the very first time.
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- 10 When 13-year-old Prince Philip visited Cromer following 1934 crab boat disaster
After a long walk along the coast to grab some much-needed fresh air, it was time to collect our picnic hamper. Due to the seasonal nature of the restaurant, the menu changes daily, and I was excited to see exactly what we would be getting.
As well as the restaurant, Rocky Bottoms has a crab hut and a shop that sells ready meals. I contacted them directly to discuss putting together a hamper and the team went above and beyond to make sure we had the perfect picnic experience.
Included in our hamper, which was a total of £50 and could be shared between two to four people, were crab sandwiches, two Weybourne dressed crabs, a Rocky Bottoms salad, a portion of garlic prawns, a tart of the day, and a Rocky Bottoms desert of the day. It also included one bottle of Norfolk Winbirri rose, although there was the option for bubbly instead. We were also provided with plastic-free plates and cutlery, as well as condiments such as sachets of salt and vinegar.
There had been the possibility of oysters too, but unfortunately, there were none available on the day. It was no bother though, as we were given some delicious crevettes and an crab extra sandwich instead – which was perfectly fine with us!
The sandwiches were beautifully presented with flavoursome meat layered inside, while the dressed crabs were perfectly prepared. It’s wonderful to see the traditional skill of crab dressing in all its glory.
The salad was fresh and crispy, and far from boring. A lovely homemade honey and mustard dressing was provided in a tiny Mason-style jar, which gave the salad an extra layer. We were also provided with some homemade prawn cocktail sauce which went down well with the crevettes and prawns.
I’ve never tasted anything quite like the tart of the day. It was a crab tart, which was almost quiche-like, with lemon and dill flavours running through it. It was a joy to eat and the pastry was divine; a real highlight of the meal.
Washed down with the local rose wine, it was a wonderful meal to sit back and relax with. We tried to take our time with it but it was so delicious, it was difficult to eat it slowly. I just about had room for the dessert, a gorgeous lemon posset which I wished was bottomless. A real treat to finish a splendid meal.
- Rocky Bottoms is currently open on a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for takeaways, noon till 4pm. It is due to reopen on April 12 for its beer garden and seafood takeout style. More about its ready meals can be found on the website.
In total, the picnic hamper was £50 and would have easily served up to four people. The ingredients were fresh, flavoursome, and well worth the price tag.
We enjoyed a bottle of rose from Norfolk’s Winbirri Vineyard. Grape varieties grown there include Bacchus, and this variety worked well with the seafood as it had a fresh and light taste.
The staff was incredibly friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful, and they adhered to all social distancing rules. Overall, it was a pleasant experience ordering and collecting our food. I contacted them via their Facebook page.
The tart of the day. It really was very delicious and unique-tasting. I could have easily enjoyed this as a meal on its own. My partner would argue the lemon posset was the highlight though – it was exceptionally wonderful, I must admit.
I cannot wait until the restaurant at Rocky Bottoms reopens. If its picnic hamper is anything to go by, then a sit-down meal there is something to look forward to. I would 100pc recommend a visit if you get the chance.
Our food reviews are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on their experience of the venue when they visited.
The establishment is not aware of our visit, is not informed we intend to write a review and bills are paid by the reviewer.
The choice of places reviewed is also independent and is not based on venues which do or do not advertise in our publications.
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2. The Orangery Tea Room, Ketteringham
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3. The Folly Tearoom, Holt
Its garden is sprinkled with vintage romance and it is a perfect spot hidden away to escape from the stresses of life.
How you can support your favourite restaurant in lockdown
Takeaways - While more places have opted to stay closed for the next few weeks, plenty are still open and offering takeaway meals for delivery or collection.
Vouchers - A valuable way to help businesses, you can buy yourself - or a loved one, as a gift - a voucher now to enjoy when it's safe to do so down the line.
Shop local - Make sure to support restaurant and pub suppliers, including beer, cheese and fruit and vegetables, by shopping local.
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