Octopus to chorizo - how new pub and restaurant stacks up
- Credit: Lauren Fitchett
The Gunton Arms is among my favourite places to be in Norfolk.
Sat in a cosy corner with a glass of red wine and something cooked on the Elk Room fire on the way, there are few better places to be.
So I was eager to try the Suffield Arms, its sister restaurant - and even more so when I heard it would be a tapas menu packed with authentic Spanish dishes.
We plumped for a leisurely mid-week lunch, with the restaurant initially quiet before diners, mainly families, started to arrive.
It's a varied menu - there's the list of tapas dishes, as well as pasta, pizza and fish options, and meat cooked on the Josper charcoal oven.
We were focusing on the tapas, though, and started with the pan con tomate (£4), cecina (£9) and boquerones vinagre (£7).
Two hunks of crispy bread arrived, topped with a seasoned spread of crushed tomatoes, a moreish, sweet and surprisingly light dish.
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The cecina, a smoked, cured beef, was smoky, lightly salty and fibrous, with a deep cherry colour - slightly reminiscent of the Italian Bresola. There are two other plates to choose from, lomo or salchichon - both £9.
The anchovies were meatier than those found on delicatessen counters, covered in olive oil and a generous helping of garlic and parsley. Beautifully tangy, and perfect mopped up with the pan con tomate (I'm sure that would be frowned upon by purists).
Next up was the patatas bravas with alioli (£5), which were excellent - often they can turn slightly soggy under the sauce, but these were really crispy and fresh, the alioli rich and garlicky.
The Iberico ham croquettes (£9) were intensely cheesy - the filling was more of a cheese sauce consistency than that of mashed potato, and they were piping hot, crispy and packed with ham and cheese flavours.
Next up was the chorizo and cider (£9), which came in a sweet sauce cooked with carrots. The chorizo was incredibly soft, almost melt in the mouth, though I prefer a little char on the outside.
Our two priciest dishes were next - the pulpo gallega (£12) was beautiful - charred octopus which was soft and tender, without any chewiness. It was sat on a bed of what appeared to be paprika mashed potato. A very memorable dish.
Finally, was the chuletillas cordero (£10), lamb chops served with a savoury, salty green salsa, which was a brilliant accompaniment to the distinctive lamb flavour, the fat of which was charred and rendered.
We were, at this point, full, but in leisurely lunch style we couldn't ignore the dessert menu, opting for the chocolate ganache (£7) and baked cheesecake (£7).
The ganache was intensely rich and velvety smooth, and the cheesecake a hit too, served with a fruit compote.
We finished with a coffee each before heading home.
It is in a rural spot, so most will choose to arrive by car.
It is directly across the road from Gunton railway station, which is another option.
It's a big space and largely across one level.
If you've been to the Gunton Arms, you'll know it's got attitude.
The Suffield Arms is the same - there's loud, vibrant artwork on the walls, bright lights and the area we ate in, near the bar, had graffiti-style writing high on the walls.
We had two pieces of art near us - one was a giant tarantula, next to a much larger frame filled with dead flies.
Really friendly. Our server was knowledgeable, chatty and helpful.
Clean, brightly decorated and modern.
Everything you'd hope from a well-stocked pub. I had a couple of glasses of the Anares Crianza rioja (£4.30 for a small glass), while my other half had a half of Beavertown Neck Oil. There is a varied drinks menu, including a few sherries to fit the Spanish style.
It's not budget, but not overpriced. For our meal - eight dishes, three drinks, two desserts and two coffees, it cost £92.70.
A great addition to the north Norfolk food and drink scene. Excellent food from a strong menu, a welcoming atmosphere and a bit of fun. It's different enough to stand out from the Gunton Arms, too, and build its own reputation.
Suffield Arms, Station Rd, Lower Street, Norwich NR11 8UE, 01263 586858.
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.
If you like that, try these
1. Gunton Arms
It would be fairly remiss of me not to include the Gunton here. Nip over and enjoy the great food and stunning views.
2. Don Txoko, Norwich
Don Txoko has built a glowing reputation for its Spanish dishes, inspired by Galicia and the Basque Country.
3. Duck Inn, Stanhoe
Headed up by Ben Handley, the Duck Inn is popular among locals and visitors - and its Sunday roasts always go down a treat.