Tasty Titchwell:

We put north Nor­folk bou­tique ho­tel Titchwell Manor’s kitchen to the test

EDP Norfolk - - Inside - WORDS: Do­minic Cas­tle PHO­TOS: Root So­cial / Jamie Mck­er­row Maxwell N titch­well­manor.com

Fine din­ing at north Nor­folk’s pop­u­lar coastal bou­tique ho­tel

Con­ven­tional wis­dom has it that, when re­view­ing a meal, you be­gin by de­scrib­ing the starter and work your way through in eat­ing or­der. How­ever this time con­ven­tional wis­dom can go and eat its hat.

The rea­son is that the pas­try team at Titchwell Manor have man­aged to serve the present Mrs Cas­tle and I pos­si­bly the finest desserts we have ever spooned up. And we’ve had a few, be­lieve me.

Her­self se­lected the Golden Titchwell tri­fle. You will need to park your tri­fle pre­con­cep­tions here, be­cause this pud is some­thing out of the or­di­nary.

It came in a lit­tle golden white choco­late drum, lid jaun­tily askew to tease at the trea­sure within. There was sweet hon­eyed cream, soft sponge shot through with lit­tle jew­els of crunchy, sharp Granny Smith’s ap­ple. It was eye-rollingly good.

Watch­ers of BBC’s MasterChef may re­call a mo­ment in the most re­cent se­ries when a tear al­most rolled down the chubby cheeks of Aussie tough nut John Torode as he sam­pled a dessert which got him all emo­tional. Reader, that was nearly me when I tasted the whipped dark choco­late, brandy snap and pear ice cream de­light that was put in front of me.

It was be­yond crit­i­cism; the choco­late strong and satin-smooth with just-so bit­ter­ness, a choco­late brandy snap that was all it needed to be and a pear ice cream that would have made a Worces­ter­shire­man well up. And the devil in the de­tail here were the al­most translu­cent shav­ings of nashi pear which brought an ex­tra­or­di­nary burst of juice and flavour to the party.

What went be­fore all this was pretty fine as well. I had havered over hal­ibut or duck and, de­spite our ex­cel­lent server’s thought­ful rec­om­men­da­tion, went for the fish; we were on the north Nor­folk coast af­ter all.

‘Titchwell... has a kitchen clearly on top of its game’

It was a good choice; the meaty hal­ibut fil­let was cooked spot-on, moist and sea­soned to per­fec­tion. The sauce was just so and the sal­sify and kale brought a bit of crunch. The whole dish was a fine bal­ance of salt and sweet and pre­sented with great care and craft, as the photo shows.

Mrs C also went for fish; the mack­erel fil­let was fresh to the menu on the evening of our visit and came, plump and splen­did in its stripes, with a car­rot and sweet matelot sauce, cheesy mash and kale. As with the hal­ibut the fish was cooked fault­lessly.

I liked the sauce very much, Mrs C was less sure, though un­able to say ex­actly why. She

was also a lit­tle less taken by her starter, white as­para­gus with morels and a berg­amot sabayon; she did con­fess that she hadn’t had a sabayon be­fore and didn’t know what to ex­pect. She still cleared her plate of as­para­gus and mush­rooms.

Be­ing on the coast, I had de­cided to shell out on a crab, a Bran­caster one. It might not be the tough­est test for a kitchen but you need to pick a good ‘un and they did. It was exquisite, so fresh that it might have wan­dered up to the kitchen door from the beach by mis­take and said ‘Hi guys’, be­fore end­ing up on the menu. (In­ci­den­tally the restau­rant has two menus, the Con­ver­sa­tion and the Clas­sic, and you are al­lowed to mix and match, which is a thought­ful touch).

A crunchy Pecorino toast and beau­ti­ful white onion dip was where it all be­gan, on a lovely sun­lit spring evening in the ho­tel’s pretty con­ser­va­tory. We rather wished, like most of those din­ing, that we were stay­ing the night in one of the ho­tel’s re­cently re­fur­bished rooms, but an­other time, per­haps.

Titchwell, un­der the in­spired stew­ard­ship of for­mer EDP Nor­folk Food and Drink award­win­ning chef Eric Snaith, has a kitchen clearly on top of its game.

A visit to the ac­claimed marshes to build up an ap­petite fol­lowed by a repast at Titchwell? That would make a won­der­ful Nor­folk day.

Bran­caster crab

TOP: Hal­ibut Veronique

ABOVE RIGHT: The con­ser­va­tory

ABOVE LEFT: The stylish Titchwell Manor restau­rant

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