I just love snow, and it snowed here, it was January after all, so that made our stay in Bawburgh special to start with. However, it was not just a momentary flurry of weather that delighted us here. The King’s Head has got it right with a capital R, which befits its name, after all. It’s a 17th century country inn with rooms, named after Edward VII, who was famous for his enjoyment of the good life and indeed, life here is good! The village of Bawburgh is just 5 miles from the centre of Norwich, so easy for those wishing to stay close to the city, whilst benefitting from a country ambiance.
The pub has been in Anton Wimmer’s family for over 30 years: another something right then. And it has evolved with them to the point where many of the staff have been here for ages. That always shows, there’s a high commitment to service and a pride in the success of the pub, moreover, it’s a happy place – smiling faces, cheery interchanges between the staff and mutual respect. That backdrop fed into the deeply comfortable atmosphere.
Stepping in through the door, we walked into what is actually a large space, however the bars are intimate, with snug corners sporting sofas to sink into, perfect for a quiet drink. I appreciated the very decent wine list, which really covers all tastes and budgets, allowing for a glass of prosecco or a highly recommended Chateauneuf du Pape, alongside well-tended beers, lagers and the usual spirits.
And so to dinner. The King’s Head demonstrates its belief in locally sourced seasonal ingredients by listing not only exactly where they come from but also the distance the food travels. That’s certainly walking the talk and shows a confident relationship with their suppliers. We choose from the aptly named ‘King’s Classics’ and ‘Food fit for a King’, neither an exaggeration. The former menu is akin to posh pub food and yet, so very much better than that! Beautifully presented and exceptionally tasty, my smoked haddock and salmon fishcakes with basil mayonnaise, pickled fennel and baby leaf salad were truly delicious. In kingly mood, he, with whom I travel, opted for the duo of Norfolk pork comprising pan fried pork fillet, braised pork belly, homemade black pudding, all butter mashed potato, sauteed spring cabbage with apple sauce and pronounced himself regally well fed. I was so glad to have left room for pudding, who could resist white chocolate and passion fruit mousse, vanilla meringue, pineapple and mango compote with creme fraiche sorbet? It was sublime. We were left in no doubt: this is the finest kind of country inn dining, exceptionally good, imaginative food, not over fussed, a touch innovative whilst respecting regional specialities. I liked that. And the two AA rosettes for Culinary Excellence are totally deserved. I’d hazard a guess that there may be a Tom Kerridge in the making in The King’s Head kitchen.
It had been a long day and sleep called. The bedrooms here are relatively new and a seriously fabulous addition to the place. Tet, Anton’s wife, has created real havens of tranquillity and luxury. We took the private staircase to our suite, The Walstan, named after a local saint. I was in total admiration, the ancient loft had been turned into a room entirely fit for a king, with a modern, well-appointed bathroom. The interior decoration, crushed velvets, stunning furniture and a supremely comfortable, (I could have slept here for a week), very large bed all set in a beamed, vaulted room, was totally gorgeous. The linens and towels are first-rate. And as for the cushions, my key criteria after all, I had nothing but the highest praise: beautiful textures and interesting shapes. The curtains and blinds are great quality too, all custom made for the quirky windows. Turning historic spaces into beautiful rooms is an art: all six here have achieved an exceptional standard whilst retaining the quirkiness and style that complements the original building. Bathrooms have been cleverly fitted into unexpected nooks: there’s a touch of Alice in Wonderland as you open a neat door to find a spacious bathroom beyond. Tet and her architect have achieved that elusive combination of enhancing the old features whilst building thoroughly luxurious, modern accommodation. Check out the names of the rooms too, each one is pertinent to the history of the pub.
If you are looking for a really delightful place to stay, that over delivers in every way, The King’s Head will hit the spot and more. I can’t promise that there will be snow, should that be your desire, however I suspect all your other wishes will be right royally granted. Ours were.
The Kings Head
Telephone: 01603 744977
Email: [email protected]