The Crown Hotel in Wells-next-the-Sea is one of the luxury hotels in coastal Norfolk owned by The Flying Kiwi Inns. They are known for serving some excellent food as the restaurants have New Zealand Master Chef Chris Coubrough at the helm. My husband Paulo and I had these places in our sights and we finally decided on an overnight stay and dinner at The Crown Hotel.
We were impressed by the pleasant bar with its cosy little nooks in which to unwind, the bright and cheerful orangery and the more formal dining room. After checking in, we were shown to a spacious deluxe room with a comfy sofa and bed, including an abundance of pillows to help us settle in and relax.
A welcome surprise was the serving of complimentary tea and scones to guests, which we gladly accepted. These goodies were available between 4pm and 5pm and we could have them delivered to our room or enjoy them in the bar. As we loved the look and feel of the bar, we found a quiet corner and sank into a luxurious leather sofa.
Service was absolutely delightful and we were given a pot of tea and two fluffy scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream. I could tell the scones were freshly baked and we enjoyed them tremendously. Thumbs up to the hotel for creating a wonderful way to welcome guests shortly after check in and ensure they start off their stay on a relaxing and tasty note!
Dinner was in the formal dining room and we were given a nice table in the corner by the fireplace. The wine list was impressive and boasted a nice selection. It was good to see a Portuguese wine on offer.
Some of the best seafood comes from the North Norfolk Coast. Naturally, we took advantage of our location and ordered the Brancaster oysters on the half shell, accompanied by shallot and red wine vinegar. Tabasco sauce was readily available too, which pleased my spice-loving husband. The oysters were fresh and plump with a delicious silky texture and a clean briny flavour. We ordered eight of them but they were so juicy and succulent, we could have easily slurped down more!
Paulo ordered the crab spring rolls which were generously filled with crab meat and had a tender but crispy exterior. The mildly spicy sweet chilli sauce was the perfect dipping accompaniment.
My country game terrine with apple chutney was served with crisp toast. The terrine’s rich, gamey flavour complemented the tangy sweetness of the apple chutney. I loved the coarse, soft and crispy textures in this dish.
I definitely wanted to partake in some fresh fish so the haddock goujons suited me perfectly. My one tiny criticism is that they could have used a few seconds longer in the fryer. However, the batter was light and golden and the haddock was so tender it melted in my mouth. It was accompanied by hand-cut chips that were soft on the inside and crispy on the outside, as they should be. The tartare sauce provided just the right piquant contrast to the haddock.
Paulo ordered the char-grilled 8oz sirloin steak and asked for it medium, and that is how it arrived at the table. Spot on. It was served with hand-cut chips, onion rings, mushroom, roast beetroot and a blue cheese sauce. These were not only visually appealing and expertly prepared, they were also a great combination of flavours.
I chose the salted caramel crème brûlée for dessert and it didn’t disappoint. It passed the ultimate test of a good crème brûlée: the sugar topping cracked when I tapped it with my spoon. The salt cut the sweetness of the caramel so it had a nice balance of flavours. It was served with a crumbly and buttery shortbread biscuit, which rounded out the textures and flavours of this excellent dessert.
Paulo’s rich, dense and moist banana cake was topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. The hardened chocolate drizzle was a delightful artistic touch! This was an ideal dessert for those winter comfort food cravings.
Our culinary experience continued the following morning with The Crown Hotel’s wonderful selection of cooked breakfast items. We decided to be a little adventurous and ordered the brioche with banana, drizzled with maple syrup and topped with bacon. Delightful decadence!
With happy bellies from breakfast and dinner the night before, we set out for a day of sightseeing in picturesque coastal Norfolk.
It’s worth mentioning that this is a dog-friendly hotel. We don’t have a dog but some of the rooms are dog-friendly (the website clearly states which rooms welcome dogs).
This little getaway met all of our expectations. We wanted quality accommodation and a superb gastronomic experience… and The Crown Hotel certainly delivered on both counts.
The owners, managers or staff did not invite me to visit this establishment and were unaware that my experience would be the basis of a written review. It is based on my experience at my own cost and I did not receive compensation for my review.
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