Celebrate together again with a meal out this Christmas
- Credit: Sally Dobby
It may still seem far off, but Christmas is on the horizon and, if you’re planning a long overdue meal out this year, now is the time to start booking in for what is likely to be a very busy season.
It’s been almost two years since we’ve been able to head out somewhere special to enjoy an evening of delicious food and drink, cheery festive traditions and plenty of laughter with those we love and, after the past 18 months, a chance to celebrate the holidays together is definitely much needed.
Here’s a selection of Norfolk restaurants that are eager to help us get into the festive spirit.
Branfords Restaurant and Bar
“This year of all years, everybody needs to have some fun and revel in traditional family values,” says Tyrone Harold, director of Branfords Restaurant and Bar in the seaside village of Caister on Sea.
“What better way than over a glass of wine and tempting festive delights?”
Guests at Branfords can revel in some festive cheer this year with a traditional two and three course Christmas menu offering five options for each course.
Choose from succulent Norfolk turkey, lamb, beef, North Sea loin of cod or delectable vegetarian and vegan options for your main and settle in for a cosy, Christmassy evening complete with festive music, Christmas crackers and mince pies.
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To protect guests and staff, Branfords has implemented a “comprehensive Covid policy”, with social distancing in place and hand sanitising stations throughout the restaurant.
“We work hard to create a safe but social environment for our guests to enjoy,” says Tyrone. The restaurant will also refund deposits for Covid-related cancellations with prior notice.
The Hog Hotel
The Hog Hotel in Pakefield provides “a civilised and stylish option for a Christmas meal or party,” according to owner Sally Jones.
The hotel’s three course Christmas menu includes a choice of starters, mains and desserts plus an additional cheese course, amuse bouche, mini mince pie and coffee.
“Naturally, Norfolk Bronze turkey features, wrapped in Dingley Dell bacon and with all the trimmings, but also for smaller tables our regular a la carte menu will be available,” says Sally.
The hotel also offers excellent vegan and vegetarian options and an enticing cocktail menu.
“There has been some obvious interest in drinks and cocktail packages too,” adds Sally, “so people are clearly planning to push the boat out!”
The Hog Hotel has achieved a ‘Good to Go’ mark for its commitment to keeping guests safe. It is currently taking deposits offset against the final bill and, in the event of a positive Covid test, asks that other guests who have not had contact with the individual still attend.
The Wortwell Bell
The traditional Wortwell Bell pub, nestled in the picturesque village of Wortwell, is eager to help us have a merry little Christmas with its festive menu and entertainment running throughout December.
“We welcome everyone, new and old customers, with a warm and welcome smile,” says owner Patricia Fry.
“You will find our restaurant and heated marquee decorated in a traditional festive style, and you can enjoy a three-course festive meal and drinks.”
The Christmas menu at The Wortwell Bell showcases a plethora of delicious, locally-sourced produce and, once your party has polished off their plates, you can round it all off with a mince pie and a coffee.
“We are almost full for Christmas Day and have had many other enquiries for the festive period, so it's refreshing to see people coming together and celebrating this year,” says Patricia.
A one-way system, screens and hand sanitising stations are in place to protect the pub’s guests and staff, and deposits will be refunded if parties have to cancel due to Covid restrictions.
The New Forge
At The New Forge in Aylsham, you can expect something a little different from the traditional Christmas roast. Fresh, authentic Thai recipes are served up alongside classic British cuisine to fill up the traditionalists and the more adventurous eaters in your group.
Christmas parties can choose a two- or three-course meal, either traditional or Thai, with vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options available to suit all diets.
“The New Forge Aylsham is great for any occasion and is available for any day of the week,” say owners Tim and Koi. “It’s a great place to meet with family and friends, and has plenty of space for everyone to enjoy.
“The huge restaurant area, which can comfortably seat 130 people per sitting, has an area which can, if required, be partitioned off for private parties and functions,” they add.
This, along with the pub’s other Covid precautions, ensures parties of any size can have a safe and memorable evening.
The Dabbling Duck
Rachel Eagle, general manager of The Dabbling Duck in Great Massingham, says that people are definitely keen to celebrate Christmas properly this year.
“Everyone is so ready to get together and party,” she says. “I think people will celebrate extra hard this year due to missing out on celebrations last year.”
A friendly pub that champions the best of local meat and game – with delicious vegetarian and vegan options too - The Dabbling Duck offers a welcoming atmosphere, real ales and the pub’s own Mucky Duck gin to complement your festive gathering.
“The Dabbling Duck has something for everyone,” Rachel says. “A sit down set meal, something a little formal, then there’s our barn, where you can have music playing, pizzas, your own private bar and a more relaxed atmosphere. Whatever you are looking for, we can cater for.”
In the event of a positive Covid test, bookings will be amended or cancelled. While the pub is forgoing entertainment nights this December, you can still enjoy live performances at its Christmas Market on December 4.