This past weekend saw us visiting my friend E up at her new house in the gorgeous north Norfolk village of Well-next-the-Sea. We were amazingly lucky; not only was the weather scorchingly hot (I fear perhaps our last blast of summer) but – shiver me timbers – Wells was also hosting its annual Pirate festival.
Having zoomed up from London straight after work on Friday night we made our way to The Crown Hotel for dinner, just before they stopped serving food at 9.30pm. Part of the Flying Kiwi independent group of inns in Norfolk, The Crown is a 12 room hotel which offers dining either in the relaxed Orangery or the smaller, more formal dining room.
I noticed at the base of the regular menu was a small note saying they had a gluten free menu. Promising. Even more promising when I was presented with this relatively extensive gluten free menu:
It was too late to eat a starter as well as a main course but next time I’ll arrive earlier so that I can taste the complimentary gluten free bread served with all starters. I’m always impressed with restaurants which make the effort of providing gluten free bread but it’s interesting to see the quality as it can vary.
I was very pleased to see chips on the gluten free menu and checked with the waitress how they were cooked. Happily, they’re not dusted in flour and they are cooked in a dedicated fryer so no chance of cross contamination.
The waitress who served us was extremely knowledgeable about ingredients, cooking methods and, despite the restaurant being very busy, she checked and double checked on my questions without any fuss which also impressed E and Mr D. However, it turned out after her checking that the tartare sauce was not gluten free. The ketchup wasn’t either, “I know Heinz is the only gluten free ketchup”, said the waitress “and ours is not Heinz”. I think this is a bit of shame – my excitement at being able to eat ‘safe’ chips was tempered with not having any ketchup or tartare sauce to enjoy them with. I asked what other sauces I could have with my haddock and chips and the waitress brought me a bottle of sweet chilli sauce. She thought it was gluten free but wanted me to double check. I did, it was.
Since it was Friday and I was beside the seaside, I went for grilled haddock goujons with hand cut chips (£11.95). The fish was chunky and fresh. The chips were lovely, thick cut and a rare treat. Bizarrely the sweet chilli sauce seemed to work quite well.
Somehow I found myself ordering the passion fruit pavlova for dessert (it must’ve been the sea air):
All in all this was a great meal. Delicious gluten free food, friendly atmosphere and impressive service under pressure.
Gluten Free Wells-next-the-Sea: The Crown Hotel, key info:
Details: The Crown Hotel, The Buttlands, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk NR23 1EX
Tel: 01328 710209