The Flying Kiwi Inns is an independent group of luxury hotels in coastal Norfolk purchased by New Zealand Master Chef Chris Coubrough who has settled in the area. The Ship Hotel in Brancaster is one of those luxurious hotels. I already stayed at The Crown Hotel in Wells-next-the-Sea and blogged about it here a few years ago. Paulo and I really enjoyed the great food, wine, service and ambience and were eager to repeat the experience at The Ship Hotel. I’m pleased to say we were not disappointed.
We had a bit of a stressful drive during Storm Doris but when we arrived at The Ship Hotel, check-in couldn’t have been more effortless. Within minutes we were shown to room 9, which I requested upon booking over the phone, where we could unwind before dinner.
The deluxe Moroccan-themed room on the top floor featured a comfy King-size bed, a luxurious roll top bath, separate shower cubicle and a great little nook with a sofa bed nestled in the corner.
Room 9 on the top floor was the pub’s attic before the refurbishment but the high ceiling in the roof’s apex and the original wooden beams made the room feel spacious.
The pub/restaurant’s different spaces flowed into an overall ambience that was warm and inviting.
Our table was located in a quiet, cosy corner but we could still enjoy the buzz of other happy customers.
Between the regular menu and the specials boards, we were spoilt for choice. However, choosing seafood came naturally as some of the very best comes from the North Norfolk coast. So when in Brancaster, you have Brancaster oysters!
The oysters were smooth and sweet with a plump and springy texture. Although they came with a lemon wedge and a bottle of Tabasco sauce, I preferred to eat them without any condiments so I could slurp the full flavour of the oyster meat and its juices.
We also enjoyed some grilled chorizo and its piquancy was a nice contrast to the oysters’ delicate, briny flavours.
We both decided to order the prawn cocktail as our starter. Some may call it “old school” but a good prawn cocktail is always a classic. It came with a delicious marie rose sauce, fresh salad and a lemon wedge.
The prawn cocktail was imaginatively served in a wine glass placed on a slate with additional condiments on the side, in the form of a lime wedge and lines of paprika and black pepper. Admittedly we did make a few Scarface jokes at the lines, but the spices were actually a nice feature as we could experiment with some different flavours.
We took full advantage of our coastal location and both ordered the mussels in garlic and white wine cream. After all, it’s mussel season (February is a month with an ‘R’ in it). The mussels were sourced locally from the Frary family who have a long fishing history in the area.
Paulo employed his clever mussel-eating technique and used an empty shell to pick out the meat from the other mussels.
Our plentiful pots of delicious mussels were served with warm baguette but we also shared a portion of skinny chips.
Worthy of mention is The Ship Hotel’s excellent wine list. We shared a bottle of Sacchetto Prosecco DOC Brut, kept chilled in an ice bucket. Paulo also enjoyed a double Adnams Ruby Port with his dessert.
I absolutely loved the lemon curd cheesecake with meringue sticks, raspberry coulis and Norfolk raspberry sorbet. It was a wonderful combination of tart and sweet flavours.
Paulo ordered the apple and cinnamon crème brûlée from the specials board. The crumbly shortbread biscuit provided a nice contrast of textures.
I finished my meal with a Persian Pomegranate herbal tea, described on the menu as containing hibiscus, apple, blackberry leaves, liquorice root, pomegranate petals and natural flavours. I expected something really great but in reality it was a pot of Novus tea, the same brand we had in our room and the same I’ve seen in hotels almost everywhere else. It wasn’t terrible but I think the description hyped it up so I was a little let down. I would love to see a smaller company provide the tea for the restaurant, such as Cambridgeshire/Norfolk-based Kandula Tea, which is more unique and local.
We were too full from our dinner feast the night before to go down for breakfast but I’m sure it would have been fantastic, judging from our past experience at their sister hotel. Overall, it was a lovely little getaway with fabulous food and beautiful accommodations (there are even dog-friendly rooms). Storm Doris let up, the sun came out and we enjoyed all of the sights and flavours North Norfolk has to offer.
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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