The setting can hardly be beaten, but how is the food at the pub local to one of Norfolk’s most famous attractions, Blickling Estate? Food reviewer STUART ANDERSON headed to the Buckinghamshire Arms to try it out.
One of the things about summer is plonking oneself down in the blissful surrounds of a country pub garden to enjoy good food, drink and company. The Buckinghamshire Arms is a fine looking pub and I’d been wanting to try out its menu, so my wife Bec and I decided to revel in the sunny weather mid-June by making a trip out there.
In the pub garden at the Buckingham Arms.- Credit: Archant
We chose to split a starter between us, and went for the crispy brie fritters (£7). At first glance this dish looked a bit on the small side, but then again we were sharing a single serving so have nobody else to blame for that.
What this dish may have been missing in quantity more than made up for in quality. There were four chunky fritters, beautifully presented on a little plate with cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and a couple of different types of lettuce. Cranberry relish topped it off, its soft sweetness contrasting well with the savoury, warmed-up brie.
The crispy brie fritters at the Buckingham Arms.- Credit: Archant
For her main dish, Bec chose the spicy bean burger (£14). This looked delightful plated up along with its sides. A tall, glazed brioche bun lightly scored by the grill stood tall over its domain, where dozens of skinny cut, skin on chips grazed alongside a heap of lettuce and a small pot of slaw.
The burger's contents were stacked ever so neatly: on the ground floor was a bean patty and living above that was a huge slice of tomato. Further upstairs was another bean patty, a smatter of harissa mayo and a few slices of pepper we thought were like the flame roasted ones we'd eaten before. The burger normally comes with charred halloumi, which Bec didn't have.
The spicy bean burger at the Buckingham Arms.- Credit: Archant
Now usually when we go out to eat in a pub garden I end up ordering a burger as well, but it occurred to me for this outing I should make an effort to be a bit more adventurous. I ended up picking possibly the least typical pub garden meal on the menu: The paprika and garlic marinated pork Stroganoff (£16). The chunky slices of pork were mixed in with whole mushrooms, smothered in a delicious brown sauce. The meat was soft and tender, and the sauce was rich enough without being overpowering.Next to it was a heap of rocket and parmesan which was handy for clearing the palate.It also came with a couple of slices of charred flat bread to mop up, and a bowl of sweet potato fries liberally sprayed with sea salt to fill up on.
The pork Stroganoff at the Buckingham Arms.- Credit: Archant
The side of sweet potato fries at the Buckingham Arms.- Credit: Archant
Although Stroganoff is the kind of dish you might think of eating inside in a cosy pub nook in the depths of winter rather than outside in the middle of a hot summer, it worked a treat and I’d have no hesitation in ordering it again. We had a bit of a break to let our stomachs settle and then it was onto the pudding menu.
I opted for the chocolate brownie with salted caramel ice cream (£7). It was a large slice of brownie, covered in chocolate sauce, sitting next to the ice cream scoop, and finished off with a couple of raspberries and strawberries and a chocolate stick.It was warm and tasty, although given it was such a scorcher I found myself wishing for more ice cream. My wife had the same, but a non-dairy option, which came with sorbet.
The chocolate brownie with salted caramel ice cream and chocolate sauce at the Buckingham Arms.- Credit: Archant
The chocolate brownie with sorbet at the Buckinghamshire Arms. - Credit: Archant
SettingPerched right on the edge of Blickling Estate, the Buckinghamshire Arms’ idyllic location can hardly be beat. The pub garden is located on a gentle slope at the back of the building, bordered by plenty of trees and a hedgerow. There are wooden picnic tables that fill up on a first come, first serve basis and some undercover seating in a marquee. ValueOur total bill, for one starter, two mains, two puddings, one ginger beer, glasses of wine and a cup of coffee, came to £63.70. Some might consider spending over £60 on a meal for two expensive, but given we had four drinks with the meal I can’t fault the price.Sure, there may be cheaper pub lunches to be had in Norfolk but there are also a lot more expensive ones, and for the quality of the food the Bucks Arms was good value. More broadly, mains start at £14 and range up to £26 for the ribeye steak.
DrinksWe were able to order our first drinks from the outside bar, and a second round from the waitress who came around to the table after the mains.Thy have everything you would expect in terms of soft drinks, coffee, beers and spirits and an extensive wine list. I had a bottle of Fever Tree ginger ale (£2.20) and later a flat white (£2.50). My wife had two 125ml glasses of pinot grigo for £4 each.
AccessibilityThe pub has its own free parking for guests, but I was told it gets quite busy, so plan ahead. There’s also (paid for) parking at the Blickling Estate car park next door, or course. Outdoor guests are directed to a toilet inside for the pub for ladies, and one attached to the pub garden for men. The loo was clean and tidy, and there were plenty of cleaning products on hand.
Service Although the pub garden was busy, the waiting staff were quick and efficient, and were accommodating when my wife asked if there were any other vegan options on the menu.When we arrived, we were told we could find our own table in the garden, and given a time when the waitress would come around to take our order.
HighlightThe Stroganoff was excellent, but the standout dish was the crispy brie fritters starter. The flavours and textures contrasted beautifully and I found myself wanting to eat far more of it.In summaryI thoroughly enjoyed this meal and thanks to the pub's eclectic menu there were plenty of options for trying something other than my usual pub garden burger!An obvious thing to do is combine your trip therewith a stroll around the grounds of Blickling Estate - a good way of working off a bit of all that food!
*Our food reviews are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on their experience of the venue when they visited. The establishment is not aware of our visit, is not informed we intend to write a review and bills are paid by the reviewer. The choice of places reviewed is also independent and is not based on venues which do or do not advertise in our publications.
If you like that, try these:
1. The Marsham Arms, MarshamAnother country pub not far from the city, the Marsham Arms has a great range of pub classics, burgers and steaks produced from locally-reared beef. 2. The Black Swan, Horsham St FaithThere are excellent burgers and stellar spiced pork meatballs at this pub not far from Norwich, which also has a great pub garden.
3. The Hunworth Bell at Hunworth.
A popular little word-of-mouth establishment, the food here is personal and delicious and set within the stunning village on Hunworth, near Holt.