Despite living a couple of miles from Bawburgh King’s Head, Dominic Castle had never been there. Time to put that right
The King’s Head at Bawburgh
We often overlook things that are close by, don’t we? Parisians are supposed to never go up the Eiffel Tower, New Yorkers don’t go to the Statue of Liberty or the Romans the Colosseum.
Closer to home, I have never been to the King’s Head at Bawburgh, despite it only being a hop, skip and jump from the front door and despite it having had, for many years, a pretty strong reputation and owners who, after more than 30 years there, are clearly committed to the cause.
And so, on a bit of a whim, we nipped over to the pub for a spot of midweek supper. There was an agreeable buzz about the pub when we went in; it’s a nice old place – 17th century – with plenty of oak, comfy sofas and tables spread around.
As it was a spur of the moment thing we skipped the starters, tempting though they sounded. I went a little weak-kneed at the idea of crispy pork belly, caramelised apple puree, crispy black pudding quail egg, pork puff, baby watercress, jus, but bravely held off and went to the main courses.
The last time I ate venison, a few weeks ago, it was a disappointment, a slab of meat with the texture of something knocked out by Dunlop. So I decided to see if the King’s Head could restore my feelings about this lovely meat.
Well, the short answer was that they could, and did. The venison was well-cooked and tender and the sticky red cabbage, apple and potato gratin, baby beetroot and turnips worked well.
It was perhaps a touch sweet overall; maybe a little crisp greenery might have helped balance the flavours, but those thoughts formed only once I’d scraped the plate clean.
Across the table Mrs C was getting busy with her ravioli, which was a starter as a main course portion. Filled with pumpkin and ricotta with a pesto aioli and some toasted pine nuts, it was given the nod of assent. The pasta was a touch thick on a couple of the ravioli but it didn’t stop them all being consumed, with much gusto.
Skipping the starter left space for dessert. Things went a bit quiet as a date and ginger sponge with poached pear, caramelised walnut and vanilla ice cream appeared in front of herself and then quite rapidly disappeared. I was granted a half-spoonful to taste and it was delicious, with the sweetness of the date and a nice counter-punch of ginger.
I went for a big chocolate fix; a fruit and nut chocolate bar, with salted caramel, honeycomb, and milk sorbet. It was everything it should have been, especially after I’d let the chilled bar warm up a little, releasing the flavours.
With a couple of drinks, we came out just under £50 lighter in the wallet.
It might not have been quite like a Frenchman shinning up the Eiffel, but it was a rewarding enough experience to wish we’d done it sooner.
TOP: Pumpkin and ricotta ravioli
LEFT: Date and ginger cake with poached pear