Earlier this year, my management team took young Rural and I on a much needed break to Norfolk. It is a marvellous county. It really is. There are beaches to run on and pubs to drink in. This review is a consolidation of a number of visits to a pub called the Victoria in Holkham. The reason that we kept revisiting the Victoria is because it is totally awesome.
The Victoria is a magnificent building and dominates the little village of Holkham. It is located on the main coast road between Hunstanton and Cromer. The road is called the A149. Also in Holkham is an Adnams shop and I am happy to recommend both their beer and their dog bowls. Their beer tastes exceptionally good in their bowls. Everyone should spend at least one evening in their lives drinking copious amounts of Broadside in the company of good friends. But I digress. I should be telling you about my visits to the Victoria, not talking about beer.
The entrance to the pub is on the road that crosses the A149 and runs between Holkham Hall and Holkham Beach. There are deer in the grounds of Holkam Hall and occasionally seals are seen on the beach. The Victoria is a marvellous place to quench your thirst after observing deer and/or seals.
There is parking in the road outside the Victoria and also a large car park to the side of the pub. Very importantly, there are some luxury kennels in the corner of the car park so if you would like some time alone to snooze and reflect on the day then these would be perfect. I think they might also be big enough to lock your owners in if they are driving you bonkers.
The pub has a pair of nice big solid doors and these open into a magnificent hallway that leads into a dining room. However, readers, I will stop you there and ask you to turn left. We will consider the dining room later in this review.
Turning left will take you into a nice traditional snug. It has everything that a dog could want. There is a television to watch the rugby on. There is a dartboard so that us chaps can impress the ladies with our skills with the arrows. Fresh Norfolk water and/or delicious beer is brought by the most delightful staff. Most importantly there is a stone floor and this is completely awesome for relaxation on a blisteringly hot day. Another benefit of a stone floor is that no one minds if my paws are slightly muddy or if my owners have dirty boots. There is a big oak table that is perfect to snooze underneath. Although my visits to the Victoria were made in a mild spell in March 2014, I could easily imagine coming in for a warming pint or two in the colder months.
Beyond the snug is a second bar. This has more of a “smart casual” ambience. On one side there are windows that look out over a delightful courtyard. On the other side there is a long bar that has a good selection of beer. There is a selection of tables and chairs: some are lower than others but all are very welcoming.
On my first visit to the Victoria, I was in this second bar with young Rural, my management team and some long suffering friends. Those of you who have met my management team will completely understand why their friends suffer. A table was found and possession taken. Pints (and bowls) of Woodfordes Wherry were purchased, supped and pronounced as “delicious” and “tasty”. Unfortunately at this moment young Rural decided to commit a slight indiscretion against a large flower pot but some swift (and therefore uncharacteristic) thinking from the Boss meant that it was quickly disguised. The less said about this the better. Sadly we had to leave as supper beckoned and my management team had not had the forethought to bring food with them for Rural and I.
A few days later, we returned to dine in the dining room. It is a beautifully decorated room with nice floorboards and nice ceilings. Most importantly from my perspective, dogs are allowed in the dining room. This is a marvellous idea and one I wholeheartedly support. A table was found for us. Drinks and menus were brought to the table. My management team opted for the “prix fixe” menu. It cost £15 and used core ingredients found within a 15 mile radius of the Victoria. I particularly liked the idea of venison from the Holkham Estate being served in the Victoria. In theory, the chef could go out with the stalker and choose a deer to suit a particular guest or dish. This is marvellous and I wholeheartedly approve of the idea of local food.
Here is the menu so that my loyal readers can see what is available on the £15 fifteen mile menu:
Pheasant leg cassoulet
Wild mushroom and pearl barley risotto
Venison burger & hand cut chips
Smoked haddock chowder
Norfolk cheese board
Sticky toffee pudding & vanilla ice cream
It was pure torture to sit under the table whilst plate after plate of delicious food was brought out from the kitchen. My management kicked off with lobster bisque, continued with the venison burger and finished off with the cheese whilst the other polished off the sticky toffee pudding. They raved about the food in the vehicle on the way back to the cottage, and said that the beer and the wine were excellent.
I cannot continue further with tapping out this review with my paws without making mention of the staff at the Victoria. They were, without exception, everything one would expect of someone who works in an establishment as perfect as the Victoria. Helpful. Charming. Energetic. Knowledgeable. Passionate. Happy. The list could go on. They also wore waistcoats in the Holkham tweed which is a delightfully understated tweed. If I were to make one suggestion: they should sell their tweed waistcoats to clients.
I am happy to declare that the staff at the Victoria give the best tummy rubs of any staff at any pub I have visited in Norfolk. I also received delicious artisan treats from the staff.
If you would like to visit the Victoria, the full address is:
Norfolk, NR23 1RG
Tel: 01328 711008