To continue from my last review, Our Seaside Adventure Continues, Myself and Annie found ourselves driving home from The White Horse at Brancaster feeling full but far from appeased. The only reason for this being that we had awoken that morning with the hope of returning to the restaurant we visited last year, The Orange Tree at Thornham. Anyone who read my last review will know of what happened so it was with a sense of melancholy that we drove back past it on our return journey. We got home, sat down and thought what should we do for dinner until we realised almost simultaneously “F**k it, let’s just go to the orange tree for dinner” so we did. With our belly’s still slightly full of lunch we packed up again and headed out.
On arrival, we found it much less busy than earlier and nabbed ourselves a prime spot in the bar area. On reviewing the menu, we were pleasantly surprised to find pretty much the same menu as the one we would have found in the restaurant, a rare treat, as often restaurants like to palm off bar-eaters with smaller menus. We realised that maybe we jumped the gun a little as while our minds were willing our stomachs needed a little time to recover from their earlier exertions and we decided to start off with two hot chocolates while we waited. This was just what was called for on annoyingly rainy day, two indulgent hot chocolates made the bar area a warm and comfortable place to while away the time. Eventually we felt ready to embark upon our order. Annie had plumped for the orange tree’s award-winning Chicken pie. And I, having seen a unique opportunity for comparison with our earlier meal, chose the burger. This meal came with an extra serving of choice as one of the unique points about the Orange Tree is they offer a canine menu for our furry friends. The options for this were salmon, chicken and lamb and came in a variety of sizes and I’m sure stark was very pleased with the variety available, with a feeling of being at the seaside we chose the salmon meal for her and ordered her an extra ‘Scooby snack’, a pig’s ear in gravy, yum!
With meals ordered we returned to the table and observed the restaurant fill up around us “just in time” we thought. We saw the waitress walk over to our table and our mouths began to water but we were premature, Stark’s meal was the first to arrive, “Typical” I thought. While I can’t give you a review of the taste of the quite literal “Dog’s dinner” (thank god, I don’t have to) I can say I was a little disappointed. Having paid for “Canine Cuisine” I was expecting a little more than what we got, which was essentially some kibble bits with a chew stick broken in the middle of it, adding this to the fact that the waitress, for some reason, placed the bowl in front of me I was a little miffed. The one interesting item I did observe in the bowl however was a chicken foot, I realised they must have misheard me when I said salmon. Concluding that the dog probably wouldn’t care anyway we placed it in front of her and right we were, it was gone in seconds. A short while later, human food arrived. I was first unto the breach as I tackled my burger and was amazed to find an even better burger than I’d had earlier that day, the meat was cooked to perfection and for once I was happy with the type and amount of garnish that had been added. Next to try was the onion rings and they were a world away from the thin, almost delicate rings that I had sampled at the white horse. These were huge thick man-sized onion rings but they were, if anything, better in their own way. The batter light, the onion cooked perfectly and gave the most satisfying of crunches, I even found myself with some scraps from the fryer which only served to make them better. The surprise star of my dish however has to be the onion chutney, dolloped on the home-made chips it made them explode with flavour and when spread on my burger bun made it even better. In all my excitement, I had neglected to look over to Annie and found her enjoying her meal, albeit rather slowly. Sensing she was still full from earlier I dived in to help her, as any caring boyfriend would. I could instantly see why the chicken pie was award winning the delicate flaky crust mixed with the perfectly succulent chicken was a feast and the amount given on the plate left little to be desired (in fact, if anything it was a little too much as a good portion was given to the dog). The vegetables were well cooked and satisfyingly crunchy. The surprise treat of the plate was a pancetta mash which was a revelation upon tasting I immediately asked the waiter how it was made, partially expecting some kind of complicated system of cooking including some sort of Heston Blumenthal-esque apparatus to get the flavour just right only to be told “they just chop it up and chuck it in”.
Despite our earlier meal we both managed to finish our plates and ask, in trepidation for the dessert menu. While we were tempted by the £15 “The Fairground”, an assortment of desserts arranged to look like a fairground (we saw a nearby table have this and regretted our stinginess) plumped for the “assortment of citrus”. When it arrived, I was a little underwhelmed, the presentation was elegant however I felt it lacked substance as while I appreciate it was an assortment of citrus very little was done to extract a variety of flavours in the dish.
Bill paid, I stepped outside for a cigarette and noticed how nice the outside area was, had it not been a particularly wet day it would have been lovely to take our meal outside around the multitude of outdoor heaters that I hear are more than adequate to keep you warm once the night’s chill sets in.
To finish up, I would award the Orange Tree 4 stars for their food, everything was delicious however feel that the doggy meal (yes, I’m including that in food) and the dessert let them down at the last hurdle. For service, a 4 as while it was perfectly adequate the slipup with the dog food must be noted. And finally, for atmosphere I would award a 4 star as the area in the bar was lovely and cosy, exactly what we need on that day. Which gives a mightily respectable score of 12 out of 15 meaning it pips our earlier meal by a single point.
Finally, my regular readers may notice this review is a little shorter than normal. This is simply because of feedback I have received from a very important critic of mine… My grandmother. So please let me know if this is a form you prefer and I’ll try to keep them a little more ‘bite-size’ in future.
This is the final review for our time in Hunstanton and overall food-wise it hasn’t been half-bad now back to Peterborough to re-join the ‘day-job’ but fear not some more food reviews will be coming your way shortly, as soon as I’ve worked off my holiday weight. If you like what you’ve read feel free to follow and I’d love to hear your opinions on anything from my writing to any similar experiences you’ve had.