Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The Bure River Cottage

It’s been a somewhat lengthy break over the summer in which time I’ve been to Spain, Sweden a trip on the Norfolk Broads and finally spent three months on the Greek island of Corfu, working (not very hard), sunning myself and enjoying some fantastic food. Whilst I might have neglected the blog, I have experienced some great new foodie joys, restaurants and even picked my own olives and lemons – and all the while I’ve been keeping a mental diary of all the delicious treats ready to re-visit the blog. In the last three weeks, I have upped sticks and moved from glorious Essex to the South West city of Bristol, where I have already been trying and testing lots of new spots, and am looking forward to even more. I have a few backlogged posts to upload from the summer, so do excuse the strange cross-seasonal blogging.

Horning – The Bure River Cottage

Before jetting off to Greece for the final part of the summer, I joined my parents and younger brother Daniel on a boating holiday on the Norfolk Broads. Not being a particularly outdoorsy, fisherwoman type, I was slightly dubious as to how much I could enjoy this type of trip, and had envisaged awful camping style food would be all that was on offer. Quite the contrary, we sailed to a range of different villages, each with their own delicatessen style shops selling locally produced cheeses, honey, organic butchers, homemade pies, and pastries and all sorts of other goodies.
On our second day we moored up at the renowned ‘New World Inn’ at the charming village of Horning, hoping to grab a hearty pub dinner (all that sitting around catching rays on the roof while my Dad drove the boat works up an appetite). Sadly you need to book well ahead, and being the rookies that we clearly were, we wasn’t aware of this. So we wandered around in search of somewhere to eat and stumbled upon an absolute gem – the Bure River Cottage, a seafood restaurant, right up our street.

The menu wasn’t extensive with only about 6 items on each section, and it existed only on a large blackboard which the waitress brought over to our table for us to decide, we enjoyed this as it gave us ample opportunity to quiz her on recommendations. She wouldn’t be pressed into giving us a particular favourite and assured us that everything on the menu was fantastic – and happily she didn’t disappoint.

Always keen on locally sourced, we opted for a couple of Cromer Crabs to start with alongside a Scallop starter with a salsa Verdi dressing. The crab starter was just sublime, fresh Cromer Crab meat with a cream element, breadcrumbs, garlic and parsley with just a hint of parmesan, served with white bread a little fries. These went down very well. The scallop starter was fine, nothing wrong with them, but nothing mind blowing going on here either.

For mains we all opted for a different fish. I had Dover Sole in a lemon and parsley butter and it was cooked to complete perfection, melt in the mouth, softly flavoured, and very easy to remove the bones.

My brother had Sea Bream with rosemary and sea salt and once again the fish was moist and cooked well – and the only bugbear was the amount of bones that needed removing, which meant this dish took longer to eat than the rest of ours.

My mum went for a wing of Skate with black butter and capers, and we’d been warned that these were particularly big, which is why she opted out of a starter. However we weren’t at all prepared for the immense sized sea-creature which was so large it actually hung off the side of the plate! Having a small appetite, my mum found this slightly overwhelming, and the outside looked quite brown so we were worried the fish was going to be overdone. Quite the opposite, the fish was, once more spot on, cooked beautifully, moist and flaky, with the crispy outside adding a sweet, caramelised intensity to the already sweet tasting fish. The capers offered the salty contrast needed to balance the dish, and the black butter gave further moisture and flavour.

Finally my dad had Turbot with a garlic butter and again there were no complaints here whatsoever. Our accompaniments were some deliciously minted new potatoes and some seasonal vegetables which, unfortunately had long since waved goodbye to al dente, they were overcooked to say the least – but this one hiccup couldn’t deter from the overall meal.

Despite large portions, we all managed a dessert, which is a rarity, as it’s almost always only me (have previously explained my greed/sweet tooth) and my dad that make it to afters. My brother had baked cheesecake with strawberries, my dad homemade strawberry ice cream to cool him down (it was July and there was no air conditioning), my mum a vanilla crème brulee with strawberries, and I had a chocolate pot. For me this was the perfect finish to a lovely meal, strong and bitter dark chocolate, really boozy, creamy and with a little sweet fruit – scrumptious!

The Cheung’s verdict was five big thumbs up. We had a great evening, all enjoyed our meals and found the atmosphere and service to be excellent. The restaurant was busy early on, although we were the last to leave, and had to end our evening with a quick nightcap in the New World Inn. The Bure River Cottage was for us a great find in a very quaint and sleepy village.