This month DO­MINIC CAS­TLE runs the rule over Sprow­ston Manor’s pop­u­lar grill restau­rant

EDP Norfolk - - Eating Out - Sprow­ston Manor Mar­riott Ho­tel and Coun­try Club, Wroxham Road, Nor­wich, NR7 8RP 01603 410871 www.mar­

WHEN I was an inky school­boy, the wood­work shack had a motto nailed up; a con­trac­tion of a quote from Henry Wadsworth Longfel­low, it said: ‘The Supreme Ex­cel­lence is Sim­plic­ity.’

I sup­pose it was put up to tem­per the am­bi­tions of any 14-year-olds who thought they were the next Thomas Chip­pen­dale, but un­like much of what I was taught at school, those five words stuck fast and, in a ever more com­pli­cated and fast-paced world, have ever more res­o­nance. It was cer­tainly a phrase that popped into my mind when we dined at Sprow­ston Manor’s Cast Iron Grill.

Here you will find no foams, airs or bon­bons; that is cer­tainly not to say that the menu is dull, but that it is not writ­ing cheques that the kitchen can­not cash. We ar­rived a touch early – re­ally early – in fact we sat alone in the hand­some grill room for a while as aper­i­tifs were im­bibed and the card pe­rused.

I opened my ac­count with three fat scal­lops on a puree of spinach. They were beau­ti­fully cooked, if a pinch over-sea­soned, and the crisp pancetta added a nice tex­ture. The present Mrs Cas­tle chose Sev­ern and Wye smoked salmon, which came with beet­root, wa­ter­cress and toasted ha­zlenuts and was

de­light­fully sweet, soft and well-flavoured.

To the main course and, skip­ping over the Burger and Hand­helds sec­tion of the menu, I de­cided to max out with a fil­let steak and see what met­tle the Cast Iron had when it came to pre­mium beef. The an­swer was pretty good; the fil­let was thick and cooked just about spot-on, per­haps just be­low the medi­um­rare or­dered but not enough to war­rant a re­turn to the grill. The ac­com­pa­ni­ments were fine, with old-school fries rather than those faddy, cheffy chips which are for me too of­ten waxy and un-chip­like.

Mrs C took the full veg­gie route with a pump­kin squash ravi­oli; tough in­gre­di­ents to get a whole lot of flavour or tex­ture out of but a side of spinach and some pine nuts helped. It was a trencher­man’s por­tion too, so a few en­velopes of pasta were re­turned un­opened to al­low space for some pud.

She chose hon­ey­comb cheese­cake with a salted caramel ice cream, a good choice, she af­firmed, when a big wedge was placed in front of her. It was creamy and sweet with a nice crunch to the hon­ey­comb.

I was se­duced by the tof­fee and gin­ger skil­let pud­ding, with vanilla ice cream rather than the sug­gested ba­nana va­ri­ety. The wait­ress, a happy soul who clearly en­joys her work, warned me not to touch the hot skil­let and it was a full seven sec­onds or so be­fore I did, but no last­ing harm was done.

The pud was a very fine thing, with plenty of fiery stem gin­ger chunks and a rich tof­fee sauce, the right way to end a meal on a chilly evening when the wind was whip­ping the rain against the restau­rant win­dows.

And while we started the evening as Mr and Mrs Billy No Mates the place was a pos­i­tive hub­bub by the time our bill came, so this is clearly a very pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion (and from our ex­pe­ri­ence cer­tainly worth book­ing early). That bill was a not in­sub­stan­tial £90, though that was with the prici­est starter and main course; we had also been very tempted by the Wine and Dine menu which of­fered three courses for two peo­ple, plus a bot­tle of wine, for a sovereign un­der £60. Ex­cel­lent value.Š

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