It’s always nice to combine lunch with a trip to a nearby attraction; more so when it is a garden centre, and a jolly good one at that. But that’s not what you want to hear about is it?
Very easy to locate, the Kings Head Pub / Restaurant has a spacious car park where we reversed into a shady spot under a tree. My first impression of the place was of a typical ‘side of the road’ pub; the road being the B1332 from Norwich to Bungay.
We were greeted cheerfully by the staff, and I ordered a half pint of Adnams Best Bitter; it was absolutely cold and lovely, and about half the price of wine: I must remember that.
We chose a corner table in the bar area, although - on later inspection - we discovered a separate proper dining room, and also a garden outside with tables available to diners. The menu offered about 14 different main course options and there was also a blackboard offering more ‘Chef’s Recommendations’. Incidentally there is another option of a two course meal for £12, or three for £15 from a smaller three-option menu. Determined to try something other than fish I opted for the pan fried chicken with smoked bacon, croutons, anchovies, and Caesar salad. The strips of chicken were scrumptious; golden brown and tender in the centre, the salad was fresh and crisp, but I have to admit to not really liking anchovies, so I left them. My companion – who was responsible for picking the nearest pub to the best garden centre – chose Pan fried salmon, smoked salmon, prawns and artichoke risotto. Having once been witness to the soggiest, wettest risotto in a former existence, I worried about her choice. No need; it was creamy and moist and held together well. Her salmon was big and beautifully cooked. Both our meals were very prettily arranged on rectangular white plates, and were of really generous proportion. A side dish of chips, and one of vegetables were our insurance against tiny servings with palm trees made out of cucumbers and circles of jus drizzled on huge plates which leave you bankrupt and starving. We needn’t have worried, in fact my friend who is thinner than I am, was compelled to leave a little of hers to make room for pudding.
Oh pudding! I chose treacle tart, and was delighted by the more than satisfactory size of it; my friend chose chocolate and amaretto tart, also plentiful. Both of these came with ice cream – mine vanilla, the other pistachio – and were decorated with Physalis berries and succulent aromatic raspberries: very pretty; very delicious.
To finish, I asked for strong black coffee and was not disappointed.
The service was timely and attentive but without the annoying ‘is everything all right’ every two minutes: the pub looked lively with notices about entertainments and quiz nights. Unfortunately the toilets were down four steps, and not large, so I wouldn’t recommend this restaurant for disabled use. Having said that, the facilities were being refurbished, so watch this space.
And the garden centre? Just down the road Homestead Nurseries at Kirstead; quality plants at small prices. Well worth a visit.
The King's Head, 6 Norwich Road, Brooke, Norfolk, NR15 1AB.
Tel: 01508 550335.