Ladies Who Lunch

The Village Inn, Little Melton, 10th June 2010

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Slightly out of the designated area, but I was attempting to beat the £20 barrier by slipping underneath it. I asked around: Where was the best value for money to be found? Village Inn they all said.

So we thought we would give it a go. The target was a two course meal, with drinks and coffee after – for two people, for twenty pounds.

The restaurant is situated in Little Melton which is quite close to the new Norwich southern bypass (A47). Travelling west from the Wymondham / Thickthorn roundabout, take the B1108 Watton Road, then very soon turn left into Green Lane, then School Lane.

There is a large easy car park, and good wide, flat pedestrian access into the restaurant. We queued at the bar for drinks, and were told that we could pay for the carvery main course along with the drinks; we chose our wine from a selection of deeply chilled white wines. We paid up and then joined the queue for the food. It was right in the middle of the lunch time, and the queue was worryingly long (we were hungry, having gone straight there from our energetic swimming session), but we soon began to move, and as some of the bar-staff came to help with the serving, we were soon back at our table, ready to eat.

Roast beef, turkey and gammon were on offer, so between us we tried the lot together with all the vegetables, stuffing and Yorkshire puds. The Yorkshires were suffering slightly from anaemia again (what is it about Norfolk and pale Yorkshire puds?) and the carrots were a decidedly firm, but the serving of meat was more than generous, and the roast spuds divine.

Again I put my waistline in jeopardy, and ordered a Chocolate Fudge sensation which came served in a knickerbockerglory glass which I found a little difficult as I had to eat all the fresh cream  off the top first before uncovering the chocolate ice cream, and then  further down, the chocolate brownie pieces and choc chips. But it was glorious!  My companion chose the treacle sponge and custard, and declared that it was good. We followed this with coffee each which tasted a little bit tired and woody, but by no means unpleasant. The service – which had been very good and attentive at first – tailed off somewhat as the room emptied, perhaps the staff were having a quiet five minutes, and I wouldn’t have blamed them after the busy rush, but  we had to wait slightly longer than ideal for our puddings, and then again for the coffee. A visit to the loo made me think that someone should spend a day in there with cleaning materials; it was adequate, but cobwebs and stained porcelain let the place down, especially after the clean fresh look of the main dining area, foyer and bar.

And then we walked out without paying.

This was not intentional; the problem arose because of the strange way they wanted us to pay for the food. I have never had to pay in two instalments like this before, and although it speeded things up at the carvery / main course part of the meal, it caused confusion later when we forgot to pay for pudding and coffee. Of course we quickly ‘did a 180’ and went back in, but we could easily have driven off without.

Total cost for two, £20.60, including drinks. Main course carvery £3.95 each; puds about £3.
Satisfaction rating: excellent value for money on a ‘stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap’ basis.
One demerit point for slightly pale Yorkshire puds
And one for those loos too.
Would we go again? Yes! 

  • 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, Village Inn 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.