It's a foodie mecca, but you don't have to go to pricey restaurants to eat well in North Norfolk. As a local, I know lots of good cafes, pubs and wine bars. Here are my favourites in Holt and Blakeney
North Norfolk is a foodies' paradise. Fresh mussels can often be bought from the side of the road, as can marsh samphire. There are countless delicatessens and lots of fantastic places to eat. Here are some of my favourites:
When in Holt, most people head to Byfords for one of its famously enormous cakes. The ginger fridge cake is really wicked. Open from breakfast to 9.30pm, this café serves salads, pizzas, pasta and "deli boards". You can also buy food from the deli to take home.
1-3 Shirehall Plain, Holt (01263 711 400, www.byfords.org.uk)
I prefer No 28 on the High Street. This is relatively new and the cakes are smaller. I'd recommend the smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels. The eggs benedict are also good. Too many breakfasts here, with my daughter, have not been good for the figure…
28 High Street, Holt (01263 712 168)
Balthazar Wine Bar
For a welcoming, intimate experience, Balthazar’s is the best. This cosy wine bar serves Mediterranean-influenced food. I like the platos combinados, which are really good value. You get a small portion of lots of different things; the meatballs are especially good. The menu is small but everything is cooked by Nina. This is my favourite place of all, not least because of the atmosphere. I recommend that you book, especially at the weekend. It’s difficult to find, so either ask a local or phone for directions
Lees Yard, Bull Street, Holt (01263 710 138)
Taste of India
If you’re looking for Indian food, this is the place to go in Holt. I love their tandoori mixed grill, and I usually opt for the sag chicken. I’ve never had a bad meal here, but the heat (spiciness) of the dishes can vary depending on which chef is on duty.
31 Bull Street, Holt (01263 711 484)
This Georgian house, converted into a hotel and recently renovated, has eight lovely bedrooms. The restaurant lacks atmosphere, but I had a perfectly cooked lemon sole the last time I went – and the service was great.
26 Station Road, Holt (01263 713 390, www.lawnsatholt.co.uk)
For traditional pub grub, try the King's Head in Holt – owned by the same people as Byfords (above) and The Pigs (below). The place has recently been refurbished and decorated in red and black; my daughter’s friend reckons it looks like a strip club!
19 High Street, Holt (01263 712 543, www.kingsheadholt.org.uk)
If you are unlucky and Christine's isn't open, don’t worry – there are loads of other places worth going to in Blakeney. I love the fish and chips at The Kings Arms.
Westgate Street, Blakeney (01263 740 341)
White Horse Hotel
If mussels are in season, you have to try them – and in Blakeney, this is as good a place as any . I have to say, my husband cooks them even better; his have a Thai influence – chilli, lemongrass, coconut milk and white wine. Delicious.
4 High Street, Blakeney (01263 740574, www.blakeneywhitehorse.co.uk)
If you don’t want pub food, then The Moorings in Blakeney is a good bet. Open all day for teas, cakes and main meals, it uses local produce wherever possible and its vegetables are often home grown.
High Street, Blakeney (01263 740 054, www.blakeney-moorings.co.uk)
The Pigs at Edgefiled is another favourite of mine. It too uses locally sourced produce. The locals barter their surplus homegrown vegetables and fruit for beer. This is a serious gastro pub. The last time I went, I had a delicious mutton burger. On Sundays there is a Pudding Club where you can keep going back to the pudding table for more. Oliver would have loved it.
Norwich Road, Edgefield (01263 587 634, www.thepigs.org.uk)
This is the place to splash out. It’s got a Michelin star and three red rosettes, so it should be good. Dinner is served at a single sitting – 7.30 for 8.00pm – and there is no choice. Everyone I know who has eaten there has enjoyed it. I can’t afford to eat here, so I am waiting for my husband to treat me.
Morston, Holt (01263 741 041, www.morstonhall.com)