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“A Michelin star without the pomposity!” declares a fan who adores this class act on the north Norfolk coast. Morston Hall may boast high walls and a stately Jacobean facade, but the mood is low-key, laid-back and personal, with TV chef/proprietor Galton Blackiston and his attentive team creating just the right mood for celebrations large and small. With help from his head chef, Blackiston maps out a no-choice dinner menu served at just one sitting – a limited offer, but the results are presented with “real innovation and panache”. Introductory items might include a taster of Earl Stonham Wagyu beef with bordelaise sauce or roasted Jerusalem artichokes with goats’ cheese mousse, while the centrepiece could be Holkham venison with salt-baked beetroot, cabbage and white pepper jus or Dover sole with a Beaufort cheese crust and salsify purée. Exotic granitas refresh the palate, while dessert could bring hazelnut bavarois with chocolate sorbet. Although Morston Hall’s culinary reputation hinges on dinner, Sunday lunch also offers great value. Genial staff are as local as the ingredients on the plate, and the wine list is an impressive worldwide compendium.
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The Midden Station 7km
Warham Halt Station 7km
Blakeney Guildhall 1km
Langham Glass Ltd. 2km
Sun 12.30pm Mon-Sun 7.30pm (One sitting only)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 1
My wife had been wanting to visit this restaurant for years, as much on the basis of the public face of the patron as anything, so it would have been almost impossible not to make an excursion to the North Norfolk coast when we were more or less in the area. We were suitably impressed with our room in the modern annex, which would be considered sizeable enough and comfortable enough to be a luxury bedsit, and we are not in principle against a set menu for the evening, but we had reservations in advance about everyone being obliged to eat at the same time, refectory style. However, in the end, Morston Hall's ratings and the head chef's reputation persuaded us to partake (although Galton Blakiston was not actually in the kitchen that evening). The conservatory dining room was pleasant enough with a good amount of space between the tables, and the day's menu looked promising, the wine list had a good Condrieu to match the food, so we settled down in expectation of an experience to remember. And so it proved. The venison tartare with a chocolate sauce and the cornflour goujons wih Lincolnshire poacher cheese were fine canapés, and these were followed by an amuse-bouche of very discreetly- smoked haddock mousse, which was more foam than mousse, and shallot rings, the whole dish underseasoned and served cold. Then came a tiny portion of very good middle white pork supported by dried pork skin puff, a dash of fresh truffle mousse, a few compressed apple cubes and some grain mustard. The next course consisted of some good brown shrimps with what was supposed to be the main element, namely a buttermilk mousse (yet more mousse!) and whey jelly cubes that added nothing to the dish. We thought this was pretty much underwhelming, but the braised turnip dish which followed, comprising two mini-turnips with some chive oil, a tiny deep-fried half-potato skin, some raw turnip rounds and a touch of lemon purée, was even less convincing and frankly less than we thought we had a right to expect given what we were paying for this tasting menu. It could all have been redeemed by the locally-caught wild sea bass which was served on top of some spinach and with deep-fried parsley and what passed for bubble and squeak, but the ungenerous portion of fish was seriously underseasoned and we had to resort the salt cellar thoughtfully, and necessarily, provided on the table. A pre-dessert of chocolate mousse, which again was more foam than mousse, with some rather passé popping candy and just about detectable mint oil brought us to the dessert proper, a warm banana soufflé with a butterscotch pouring sauce, which in my wife's case was mostly lost onto the plate through a gap in the crust on the soufflé, and a fairly neutral milk sorbet which did little to counter the over-strong banana flavour. Jelly, marshmallow and chocolate petits fours closed out this disappointing effort which we hoped to be able to discuss with the head chef but were unable to as he had disappeared immediately after service ended, apparently too stressed-out to speak to the diners. Given that so much of so many of the dishes must have been pre-prepped to leave the actual cooking at a minimum, this came as something of a surprise and disappointment. Small portions of mainly inexpensive ingredients seemed to be the order of the day, and it would be interesting to see a breakdown of the costs against the menu charge. We certainly did not consider this meal to be value for money.
Food + drink: 4
Eaten here a couple of times. With the unusual arrangement of serving a set menu (a la Sally Clarke) at a set time 8pm, with (effectively) oligatory pre-dinner drinks and canapes at 7-30pm, it is never going to be a standard restaurant evening. Everyone is shown through to their tables within minutes of each other – a formal procession being presented to the head(chef) !?
Service was reasonable, efficient and pleasant. However, it noticeably lacked the sophistication or refinement of the dishes, or what you might expect at Mich star level and prices. The simultaneous food service also constrains any enagagement with serving staff. On one occasion, at the end of the evening, staff disappeared pretty rapidly, and we had to hunt out someone so that we could pay our bill and leave. The “weakest link”.
Our meal included quails egg, asparagus soup, gaspacho, deep fried cod and duck. All was very well cooked and tasty, with some dishes being more imaginative than others. Good or very good, but other than our duck, nothing special. The duck was really excellent, and beautifully undercooked, so very tasty. As a “cheese-ophile”, I was a little disappointed at the cheese serving. Wine choices good and fairly priced.
£55 /£60 per person seemed fair value, although London prices. With wine and pre-dinner drinks expect a total of circa £200 for 2.
Overall, a good experience and definitely worth trying if you're in the area. Having eaten at most good restaurants and gastropubs along the north Norfolk coast several times, Morston is clearly the best. However, the slightly annoying pre-dinner seating and drinks, set menu and set service time are clearly for the benefit of the restaurant, and of no possible value to customers. Whilst it remains the best restaurant along this coastline, like others, we will return.
Following the current vogue for ‘staycations’, we decided to have a week in Norfolk and as luck have it (ok maybe a little engineered) we stayed near to Morston and more importantly Morston Hall as they are quite proud in boast the only Michelin restaurant within a 50mile radius.
Dinner is at a set time, arrive for 7:30 for canapés and dinner is served at 8pm, there is no choice except the set menu, which I could see causing difficulties especially for those with sea food allergies.
On arrival we shown to the conservatory for drinks, which was accompanied by (3!) canapés including a delicious tempura lobster claw. We were then shown to our table in another conservatory, the tables were well spaced throughout the restaurant so you were neither on top of each other or having to listen to some boorish conversation on and adjacent table.
We went through about 8 courses including, crab salad, sea bass in broth, quail egg scotch egg and roast quail (the best course for me), roast pork with super crispy crackling, rhubarb mousse and rhubarb soufflé. All of which was perfectly cooked and tasting very well.
The wine options were also very good and reasonable, a sheet of bin ends for £20 and recommend wines at £25 were pushed over the wine list of more costly wines.
The service was a little hit and miss, whilst quite attentive and efficient I am not sure I liked the thought of the waiter holding the next table’s dinner as they introduced the course to our table a bit to canteen style for my liking, we missed the bread coming around due to a lavatory visit and had to ask for the return of the bread waiter and petit fours were meant to be served with our coffee and when we asked for ours that had been forgotten we were initially told they had ran out but when we explained none had been served yet they miraculously did have some after all. On the plus side, when they noticed my wife didn’t like the rhubarb mousse a couple of strawberry ones quickly appeared, so double mousse course for me!
All in it was a very good experience and if in that part f the world again I would revisit and not just because of the 50 miles to the next Michelin restaurant. It was £169 all in with a £25 bottle of wine, being used to London prices it was in my opinion very reasonable.
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