Almost a year ago I went to lunch with my ‘twin’; we are not related but share the same birthday. We agreed to go again on the actual birthday which occurs in February, but the weather at the time wasn’t very good so we postponed it until the spring when it would be lovely.
Pouring rain and a stiff breeze greeted us as we arrived at the pub we had selected, and after struggling with the wheelchair in and out of doorways we discovered that this was the only day that they were not doing food. Why do I never learn to phone and check? So we repeated the huffing and puffing through the doorway of the Crown at Burston, and with a little help form a nice man-and-his-dog Nero, we settled at a table near the open log fire, and sat and steamed quietly whilst studying the menu.
Determined to get away from my usual choices, I opted for a vegetarian pancake stuffed with spinach and cream cheese, accompanied by a salad. As it was rotten weather I ordered a side dish of chips – no real logic there but I don't really need an excuse. My twin chose shepherd’s pie with vegetables, and agreed to help me out with the chips. A cheery bubbly young woman greeted us warmly, made my friend comfortable and took the order.
The whole place had a young-ish cheery feeling, and the nice man-and-his-dog chatted to us whilst we waited for the food. We discovered that the village of Burston was made famous by the school strike of 1914–1939, the longest strike in English history. Once the food arrived I began to regret the extra chips as the pancake was satisfyingly big, but the chips were big and crisp and home-made so I courageously battled on. The shepherd’s pie came with a dear little jug of extra gravy and freshly cooked carrots, cauliflower and beans. The pie was in a separate dish and my friend decided to decant it to make eating easier; I did likewise with my pancake which was truly delicious and I simply didn’t want it to end; there was a substantial amount of spinach (unlike one occasion when my ‘wilted spinach’ turned out to be just three leaves looking like a collapsed balloon on top of whatever it was I was eating) and lots of lovely melted cheese on the top. My friend’s pie was stuffed with meat, and he loved the extra gravy and the gently cooked veg. Excellent!
I do like a large pudding, and I wavered between sticky toffee pudding and lemon tart. Eventually I opted for the tart so as not to repeat what I have written about before. It was elegant, sharp/sweet, and accompanied by crème fraiche and a cape gooseberry, but just a bit too small for me. My friend had a rhubarb fool which was much more substantial, so I helped him to finish it. There is something about the word ‘rhubarb’ that makes me think utilitarian, dutiful, and economical; I always forget just how temptingly sweet and succulent it can be especially when smothered in cream.
The pub is clean and bright and there is a wide choice of food from sandwiches and snacks to full meals. I would love to go again; for the atmosphere, the light-heartedness and the roaring log fire, and for another go at that pancake.
Spinach pancake £10.50
Shepherd’s pie £9.00
Extra chips £2.00
Burston Crown Crown Green, Mill Road, Burston, Diss Norfolk, IP22 5TW. Phone 01379 741257:
3 miles north-east of Diss.
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.