Ladies Who Lunch

Breckland Lodge, Attleborough, 19th February 2010

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My companion was my sister-in-law, who makes a point of taking me out for my birthday lunch. Last year we went somewhere quiet - acres of car-park; no other customers; no other cars except for the waitress’s tucked away in a corner. Somehow sis-in-law managed a personal best by reversing smack into the side of said vehicle: probably best not to go there this year then.

So we chose Breckland lodge on the A11 near Attleborough, and arrived in separate cars, some safe minutes apart. The place looked inviting, and that was confirmed by the light spacious interior, and a sense of business-like attention to the patrons. I had heard that they did a lunch-deal of two courses for just over £10. Perfect. Only not on Fridays; and we were told that we should have booked a table, but places were soon found for us and our drinks order taken.

The a la carte menu promised ‘local ingredients freshly prepared to order’, so sis-in-law waited patiently for her braised liver and mashed potato. Having been frightened once by a monument of compressed mash with three hard sausages balanced on top, I chose the carvery and stood in line at the counter. Cabbage is the ‘telling vegetable’, and I was impressed: you have to work really hard with cabbage to keep it warm and presentable for an hour, without it looking – or tasting - so.

With a bit of everything on my plate I resumed my seat and offered sis-in-law half a sausage to be going on with. She declined, which was kind, as they were truly magnificent as was the roast beef, the roast potatoes, the parsnips, and the rest of the vegetables. Only the Yorkshire pudding could have been improved by taking it 150 miles up North for an extra two minutes in a really hot oven. Sis-in-law enjoyed her fluffy mash and tender liver which was nicely presented with an assortment of vegetables, and my bangers-and-mash-phobia retreated somewhat.

It is definitely a family friendly restaurant: whilst we waited for pudding, I noticed that one or two children (it was half-term) who had been given child-sized plates at the carvery, trotted back for seconds – and they got them. I spotted a cafetière of hot water being brought to a neighbouring table, for the baby’s bottle to be warmed.

Then pudding arrived! I have 100 words left to tell you about it, so I will try. For one thing, it was BIG: and I do like a big pudding. I chose the chocolate brownie, and it was the size of half-a-pound of butter: covered with chocolate sauce and a dollop of ice cream, it was undiluted heaven on a plate. They had not stinted on the chocolate content either – near to 100% I guess; it was deep and dark and velvety (think Mr Darcy’s eyes and then some). For the first time in my life, I am ashamed to say I had to leave some, I was so full: in fact I didn’t eat again until bedtime and then only a grape. Sis-in-law had a crème brulé: muttered about the fact that it wasn’t spelled correctly on the menu and then mercifully stopped nattering for a precious few minutes.

I will go there again: I will take people – hungry people. It was that good.

We noticed a brown tourist sign for Peter Beales Roses in the vicinity, and we decided to investigate how far it actually was. We reached it almost before I had changed into top gear. They do excellent coffee; lunches, and special occasion private gatherings. There is a lovely shop, and all the roses you could ever want. 

Total cost for two, £35.45, including drinks.
Satisfaction rating, pretty near perfect.
One demerit point for slightly pale Yorkshire puds.
Would we go again? Definitely!  

  • Postscript: I wish to apologise to all Yorkshire Pudding makers that I have criticised, south of Shireoaks (this being the most southerly part of that county), because I have just been on holiday to the Yorkshire Dales and had one of the most appalling Yorkshire puds ever to emerge from beneath roast beef, hiding shamefully under a layer of gravy. Imagine a scotch pancake curling up at the edges; picture a cup-shaped dollop of flour-and-water paste warmed slightly in cool oven for 2 hours and you will understand. I could have wept: I think the roast beef would have wept too had it been a tad rarer. So, Breckland Lodge, carry on as you are; you have nothing to be ashamed of.

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Copyright Village People. This article was first published in Village People. If anyone wishes to use any, or part of the Review, in any material, they will be required to ask permission of Village People, which should be given in writing. Village People reserves the right to charge a fee where permission has not been obtained to use any, or part of the Review in any material, online or offline.