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Review of Shouldham’s King’s Arms: Community lucky to have lovely country pub with tasty food and varied drinks menu





In the many years I have lived in West Norfolk, I have only ever heard fantastic things about the King’s Arms at Shouldham.

And being a big fan of a country pub, it was an obvious choice when my parents, my partner and I were planning an evening meal last week.

So a table for four was booked for Thursday night, at which time we made our way to the community-owned King’s Arms, just off the picturesque village green.

The Kings Arms at Shouldham
The Kings Arms at Shouldham
The Kings Arms at Shouldham
The Kings Arms at Shouldham

We walked in through the back of the premises and found a beer garden and outside tables that looked like an ideal place to while away a sunny evening catching up with friends over a few drinks. (Having been named West Norfolk CAMRA Pub of the Year four times in the last 10 years, it is highly regarded in these parts.)

But that was put on the backburner for another time, as our business was to try the food on this particular evening – although, before we were shown to our table, we ordered our drinks at the bar.

Dad went for a San Miguel lager (£5.20), Shane chose an Estrella beer (£5.40), Mum opted for an alcohol-free Roderkerlig cider (£3.90) and, seeing that the King's Arms offered Lynn-based WhatAHoot gin, I ordered raspberry and pink peppercorn (£4.75) with lemonade (£1.10).

An Estrella
An Estrella
WhatAHoot's raspberry and pink peppercorn gin with lemonade
WhatAHoot's raspberry and pink peppercorn gin with lemonade

I am sure – as a CAMRA-supported pub and with it hosting a weekend-long beer festival from September 1 to 3 – that it had a much more extensive drinks menu than we sampled, and we will have to have a return trip to do it justice.

As we were subsequently shown to our table, the first thing I noticed was the decorations on the wall, paying homage to Shouldham-born footballer Alf Kirchen, who played for Norwich City, Arsenal and England in the 1930s and 40s.

Photos of local legend Alf Kirchen on the walls
Photos of local legend Alf Kirchen on the walls

There were similar lovely decorative touches throughout the pub, including a few games to try, which gave it a truly local and community feel. It’s the kind of pub anyone would be lucky to have as a local.

Moving on to the main event – the food! Dad ordered the steak and ale pie with new potatoes and vegetables (£15.25), Mum chose the steak burger topped with smoked bacon and cheddar in a brioche bun, hand cut chips, chorizo mayo and slaw (£15.75) and Shane went for a special – cod fillet wrapped in bacon with potatoes and vegetables in a balsamic glaze (£19.50).

Having checked with the staff before our visit that there was something for a vegan to eat, I ordered the roasted pepper, chickpea and vegetable curry with white rice, poppadom and mango chutney (£16.95).

We had a little bit of a wait for the food to arrive – we did acknowledge it was a busy evening – but when the dishes did come, they really looked the part.

The steak and ale pie with new potatoes and vegetables
The steak and ale pie with new potatoes and vegetables
The steak burger topped with smoked bacon and cheddar in a brioche bun, with hand cut chips, chorizo mayo and slaw
The steak burger topped with smoked bacon and cheddar in a brioche bun, with hand cut chips, chorizo mayo and slaw

Mum and Dad had particularly good things to say about their meals. The chips were “beautifully crisp” and the steak burger was “obviously homemade as it was just lovely”, Mum said.

As for the pie, Dad said it was the “best and biggest he had ever had” – describing the meat as “succulent” and saying he would definitely choose it again upon a return visit.

For Shane, he said the cod was a nice dish that was “different from your average pub grub”, with lovely presentation, crispy potatoes and tasty vegetables and bacon, but he felt the cod was slightly overcooked.

The pan-fried cod fillet wrapped in pancetta with potatoes, vegetables and balsamic glaze
The pan-fried cod fillet wrapped in pancetta with potatoes, vegetables and balsamic glaze
The roasted pepper, chickpea and vegetable curry, with white rice, poppadom and mango chutney
The roasted pepper, chickpea and vegetable curry, with white rice, poppadom and mango chutney

And while I enjoyed the curry – it was very filling and had a decent flavour to it – I would pick a different dish if there was another vegan option next time.

I wasn’t sure if I would have room for dessert, but when I saw the extensive menu, I thought I’d be wrong to not try one if there was something I could have – so, the apple and raspberry crumble with vegan vanilla ice cream it was!

The white chocolate, cranberry and pistachio bread and butter pudding
The white chocolate, cranberry and pistachio bread and butter pudding
The nectarine and Archers tart with cream
The nectarine and Archers tart with cream

Dad chose the white chocolate, cranberry and pistachio bread and butter pudding, Mum opted for the nectarine and Archers tart, and Shane went for the chocolate and cherry cheesecake – all desserts were £6.75 and could be served with cream, ice cream or custard.

The bread and butter pudding brought back childhood memories for Dad, who said it had a different taste from a standard one, but he really enjoyed it.

The tart was “lovely and light” and “really nice”, Mum said, and Shane described the cherries in the cheesecake as adding a “nice tartness to cut the chocolate, which was more creamy than rich”.

The chocolate and cherry cheesecake
The chocolate and cherry cheesecake
The apple and raspberry crumble
The apple and raspberry crumble

My crumble had such a delicious topping to it, and the apple and raspberry filling was sweet and tart, as it should be. Sadly, I was so full from my main that I couldn’t finish it off.

We left the pub saying we would definitely be happy to return in the future, to sample more of the food and drinks – hopefully in that lovely beer garden.

Ratings out of five:

Food: Really tasty dishes and a good varied menu – I just would have liked another vegan option. ****

Drink: King’s Arms was not named CAMRA’s Pub of the Year multiple times for no reason, and good to see them supporting other local businesses. *****

Decor: Really loved the country pub feel, including the decorations of locally important places and people on the walls. *****

Staff: Every single interaction we had was with a friendly and helpful member of staff. ****

Price: It was at the pricier end of the scale – the total bill came to £114.80 for four drinks, four mains and four desserts, working out to £28.70 each. Not cheap but not extortionate either. ***



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