Situated in an old manor house tucked away off the high street, the hotel and restaurant offer a bohemian chic that sets it apart from its competitors.
Can you keep a secret? On the very edge of North Norfolk, relatively accessible from most of the country, is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the UK.
Although far from qualifying as “undiscovered” the North Norfolk Coast benefits from being less discovered than the likes of the Cotswolds, New Forest, and Lake District, while being less of a trek for most of us than Cornwall and Devon.
The foodie scene has always been good here for a while but it has really taken off in the past few years. Local produce is central to many menus with local mussels and crab a particular hit.
There are numerous pubs and restaurants – ranging from good to excellent – dotted along the coast. The advantage for anyone adventurous enough to make it this far east is that many of them are connected by a costal path to help you work up an appetite as you meander across breath-taking salt marshes from one to the next.
At the heart of this little slice of heaven is the village of Blakeney. In the summer the quay is busy with children catching crabs ahead of boat trips to see the seal colony which occupies a large chunk of a nature reserve which sits on the peninsula about a mile off the coast.
Part of the charm of this part of the world is that it attracts a broad range of visitors, from walkers and bird watchers, to couples on a romantic weekend away, to groups of younger city-folk enjoying the tranquillity and good food.
While the hotels in Blakeney are all of a good standard, they do tend to cater for slightly older visitors. A few years ago, Blakeney House set out to change this.
Now, with new chef Dom Aslett in place, they are really set to take things to the next level. Aslett studied under Raymond Blanc and has worked at two of my local-ish favourites – the Gunton Arms and Sculthorpe Mill.
The restaurant is now offering both residents and non-residents a taster menu with British produce at its heart. The menu changes daily but diners can expect the likes of cauliflower and dapple velouté; local mushroom pate; seared salmon with cucumber; horseradish, and beetroot; pork belly with creamed cabbage and burnt apple, topped off with a lemon tart and crème fraiche sorbet. Alternative options are available for most dietary requirements.
At an event to celebrate the new chef we’re treated to a range of canapés that show off Aslett’s talent and the venue’s commitment to local produce.
The selection certainly bodes well for the full taster menu experience. Beef rump tartar strikes just the right blend of capers and pepper while local flavours are in evidence with a “lollipop” crafted from lion’s mane mushroom and Norfolk Dapple cheese.
On the seafood side of things, tuna sashimi hits the right notes with shitake mushrooms, togarashi pepper and warming ginger. The salmon tartar meanwhile is served up with pickled cucumber and an intriguing gin cream. The taste is reminiscent (and I genuinely mean this as a compliment) of the prawn cocktails that were a fixture of dinner parties in days gone by.
The bar is well stocked and neon-lit and the food is washed down with drinks from the short but effective cocktail list. The espresso martini and negroni are a particular hit and the mojito is served up in a skull-shaped glass. It’s these details along with the cosy nooks, animal print wallpaper, and chandeliers that helps Blakeney House fill a younger, more urban gap in the market in this part of the world.
If that’s a gap you would like to fill and you are looking for a weekend away from it all but don’t want to sacrifice too many metropolitan comforts, my advice is to head to the North Norfolk heritage coast and put Blakeney House firmly at the centre of your plans.
High Street, Blakeney NR25 7NX England