Our 5th or 6th meal in the Hoste restaurant in the last 2-3 years. As always, it was very busy. They have nice large sofa / coffee / lounge type area in a large conservatory at the back, plus a more atmospheric old pub front bar area – although both get very busy.
The restaurant food is quite good, but not great. Some dishes beautifully cooked, others overcooked, but in general did not live up to expectations, given the menu emphasis on best quality local ingredients. We have eaten some very good carefully cooked Holkham Estate venison, but on our most recent visit had some not particularly great tasting crab and sea bass. Normally seem to pay £55-£60 for 2 for 2 courses, inc service ex all drinks, which seems fair.
Over several visits, service has been very variable. Overall, they are all just too rushed and too busy to have any time to even try to be charming or attentive, and sometimes spend too much time being self important. Given the very high churn of customers on a busy weekend, plus the prices, staff really need to concentrate on being very well organised and very professional. Last year, we'd not previously seen so many plates being dropped in a restaurant in an evening. Also, not impressed at not being offered a fresh glass to taste a second bottle of £40 wine, nor offered a bottle cooler for a £50 champagne. OK for a £25 bottle in a gastro pub, which I think is their real level. Perhaps much better at much quieter times mid-week ?
A gastro pub with rooms that has perhaps now expanded beyond its capabilities, and if not very careful is on the verge of becoming much less appealing ?? Clearly a great ££ business for the owners.
Overall, a mixed impression. The restaurant is really a good gastro pub, but no more. Go casual and don’t expect any more – especially from the service, which can be very pot luck and could do with more professional management for the high traffic volume. Hoste prices very much reflect its popularity, but they are not OTT. Remains one of the better quality eating destinations in North Norfolk.