Burston Crown

Two things to say immediately about the Burston Crown: it’s set in the tiny hamlet of Burston, not far from Diss in Norfolk, and is not a place you will chance upon, though I located it in the Good Pub Guide – a sure magnet to attract the many devotees of fine English country pubs if ever there was one; and that once you have discovered the route it’s really rather a lovely drive through Norfolk – and Suffolk – countryside.  As we drove from Beccles, my mother and I skipped in and out between one country and t’other.

Other than that, let the management team speak for themselves:

The Burston Crown is situated in the picturesque village of Burston in Norfolk. A perfect setting for a wonderful eating and drinking experience.

Built in 1580, the open fireplaces, beams and large beer garden are the ideal place to sample chef Steve’s fantastic cuisine. The Crown can offer a cosy lounge bar, a public bar with a pool table and a separate restaurant – so whether you are with your children, a large group of friends or relaxing after a dog walk – the Burston Crown can provide you with a wonderful place to unwind.

Steve’s foundation as a rock ‘n’ roll touring chef for the likes of U2, Bruce Springsteen and many more celebrities has enabled him to learn from travelling around the globe and bring his culinary experience and diversity to Burston.

Passionate about only using where possible, local fresh produce – Steve has created a gorgeous, all home-cooked bar menu that compliments his constantly changing à la carte menu.

Whilst enjoying the fabulous flavours of Steve’s food, allow Bev, Jonj and Frances who head the front-of-house team, to look after your every need at the Burston Crown. We can cater for all individuals should you need a buffet, a personalised menu or a B.B.Q. in the garden.

Nothing particularly quaint or outstanding from the outside, but inside the Crown is charming, warm, homely and attractive.  The bar houses a pool table while the lounge includes some comfy sofas and a table of reading material in front of an inglenook fireplace – very inviting in winter, no doubt.  Of the restaurant, more in a moment.

It was about 12:15 on a Sunday lunchtime that we arrived, expecting the place to be heaving and fully booked.  It was neither, though it took the attentive barmaid a little while to sort out which table we should be placed at, during which I sipped a fine pint of Southwold bitter and munched on chunks of cheese and cornichons at the bar – a good touch in any country pub and mum went to explore the loos.  Worth mentioning the loos: can’t speak for the ladies, but the gents was decorated by two antique adverts (pictured above), both of which made me smile.

Escorted to a small table in the corner of an otherwise deserted restaurant, I was pleased to note an even bigger inglenook, above which stood a menu blackboard, and a number of pieces of original art work.  It’s not unknown to find paintings on display or for sale in a cafe, though rarely a pub – a welcome and humanising touch to the Crown.

We ate between us one starter, one dessert and two plates of Sunday lunch. The starter came in the form of fried whitebait, a dish much beloved by my dad who is sadly not around to eat it.  In his honour I ate a sizeable portion of marginally bland and under-seasoned tiny fish (perhaps a touch of black pepper and cayenne might have spiced it up?) with a small bowl of home-made lemon mayonnaise that could have been a tad more lemony, and a few salad leaves – though the hot ciabatta break with olive oil and balsamic went down a treat as an accompaniment. At the other end of the meal, mum enjoyed a strawberry crême brûlée, which seemed to tickle her palate – she certainly never left any for me to try.

Sandwiched between these dishes was roast sirloin of beef with roasties, yorkshire pud and trimmings.  It was good to see good thick tranches of beautifully cooked medium-rare roast beef, good crisp tatties and fine veg, plus a generous helping of horseradish.  Perhaps the gravy could have been beefier, but otherwise a fine dish.  On another occasion it would be pleasant to peruse more extensively a menu that is short but perfectly formed, neither over elaborate nor remotely pretentious, but focusing on quality of raw materials and preparation, which in the world of the gastropub is both wise and welcome.

Not perfect, but definitely a pub I’d recommend, as much for its friendly and relaxed service and charming pub ambience as for its food and drink.

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