Ladies Who Lunch

The Jolly Farmers - 12th December 2012

I promised I wouldn’t exceed last month’s £60 bill: so in my search for somewhere really cheap, I asked around; someone mentioned the Jolly Farmers (along with various other suggestions including a burger on Norwich Market and taking our own packed lunch). Now there is nothing I like more than pushing at boundaries, so yesterday I went there with a friend, to find out what this place is all about.

It stands on a rather bleak crossroads at the end of Tacolneston. Evidently it used to be a one-room pub with dartboard, and sawdust on the floor. An old beam above the roaring fire, from a demolished windmill, bears testimony to the pub’s age. Larger modern rooms have been added to cater for increasing numbers, and a purpose built restaurant is available for really busy times, parties, and board meetings. We were shown to one of the smaller rooms made cosy by recent redecoration in mulberry red.

I still couldn’t quite believe that two people could dine on two courses for only £9.95; that’s less than a fiver each! Whatever sort of food would it be? The menu board for this two-for-one deal was restricted to three main options (for which I was thankful; I have such trouble deciding). Chicken curry, steak and kidney pie, beef lasagne. I chose the Steak and kidney pie, my companion the curry. There was a selection of omelettes too.  We didn’t have to wait long. Really hot plates were brought through and the first thing I spotted on mine was a little pile of sprouts: if anything ever reveals what the rest of the meal would be like it’s the greens – sprouts especially. My God they were perfect! Honestly; the only time I’ve ever tasted such fresh sprouts is in my own kitchen. So far, so good. The steak and kidney pie was a really healthy sized portion and thankfully wasn’t served in one of those separate bowls; convenient for the kitchen staff but impossible to eat out of. It was full of top quality beef and kidney, hiding under a proper pastry crust. Absolutely top class. Carrots and broccoli were excellent too, and the mashed potato and gravy sublime. My friend gave me one of her chips which were undeniably made from real potatoes peeled on the premises. The chicken curry that came with my friend’s chips was well flavoured and satisfying; not too spicy-hot. Rice and naan bread accompanied it.

The chef, made no secret (later) of the fact that the deserts were bought in. I chose cherry and custard tart and my friend had black forest gateaux ‘with cream’ – the only alternative to that, we learned, is ‘with no cream’. The portions were bigger than ones I have paid £5 each for (remember, this is two meals for £10 here), and quite delicious. Strawberry gateaux and Dutch apple tart were also available.

Seated in the room was an elderly couple obviously enjoying their meal, and I said to my companion that if I were an OAP, I would come here every day. Then I remembered that I was. I would really like to be there on a Friday evening when the speciality is fish and chips. Thursday lunch is sometimes a carvery if the local shooting party are in attendance, so it’s best to ring and check what’s available.

The Jolly Farmers evidently has a loyal following of patrons who just want an honest plate-full of food, just like granny used to cook. Booking are increasing and I have a feeling that a cult following is beginning to take shape here. Be there or be square!

Mains & puds £9.95  
One Wine + One Coke +  Two Coffees  £7.00
total   £16.95

Norwich Road (B1113)
Forncett St Peter
NR16 1LG
Tel: 01953 788197

Please note that the restaurant is closed all day Monday.
On Sunday there is a carvery from 12 to 14.30 pm, but no evening service.

Right on the B1113 between Norwich and New Buckenham  

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