Vernon Arms Food Review in Southrepps

How do you fill a lazy winter Sunday and a hole in your stomach at the same time? Could there be a better way to do this than to go somewhere in the Norfolk countryside for a roast dinner in a cozy village pub?

With no better answer or even a reservation in hand, my wife and I headed to Southrepps, near Cromer, for a midday meal at the Vernon Arms.


Inside the Vernon Arms at Southrepps.
– Credit: Stuart Anderson

There are a few famous gastropubs in this part of the world – the chef at Gunton Arms among them – making Vernon something of a hidden gem, but one, as we discovered, is also worth shouting about.

The selection of starters was short and punchy, offering a choice between soup, smoked mackerel and horseradish mousse and wedges of deep friend brie.

We shared the wedges (£7.95) which weren’t served as hot as I would have liked. There was a pair, soft inside but crispy enough that you could pick them up with your hands without risking hurting your fingers.


Fried Brie at Vernon Arms in Southrepps.

Fried Brie at Vernon Arms in Southrepps.
– Credit: Stuart Anderson

Red onion marmalade was provided for dipping. The portion was enough for the two of us and would have been too big if we hadn’t shared.

For main course, we both went for Sunday lunch (£12.95), with mine with thinly sliced ​​beef and hers with a home-made nut roast.


Sunday lunch with roast nuts at the Vernon Arms in Southrepps.

Sunday lunch with roast nuts at the Vernon Arms in Southrepps.
– Credit: Stuart Anderson

But the dish was a whole package – even elements that are traditionally confined to walk-in appearances at a Sunday dinner party played starring roles here.

In some places the cabbage can be a soggy heap of sadness confined to the corner of the plate, but here it is placed right in the center and is exceptionally tasty. The broccoli florets were so bursting with flavor that I wish I knew how to make them this way at home.


The Sunday roast with beef at the Vernon Arms in Southrepps.

The Sunday roast with beef at the Vernon Arms in Southrepps.
– Credit: Stuart Anderson

Their soft, silky texture contrasted well with the carrots, which were chunky and retained their crunch.

I had four or five hearty roast potatoes and a Yorkshire pud which was neither small nor perfectly formed but delicious all the same.

The top, ironically half-submerged under a number of these other beauties, almost seemed like an afterthought, but the flavor proved otherwise.


Inside the Vernon Arms at Southrepps.

Inside the Vernon Arms at Southrepps.
– Credit: Stuart Anderson

The semi-cooked meat was tender and although there was a lot to wrap my fork in, I wanted more and the plate was cleared.

And after such a hearty dish, I almost gave up on a pudding, but I’m glad I put on a brave face and got back on the menu.

The chocolate brownie (£6.75) I was greeted with after a very short break was magnificent – a doughy base with gooey interiors and just a hint of crispiness on top.

But the single scoop of vanilla ice cream—which rode the brownie like a cowboy on his mount—was something else entirely.


The brownie at Vernon Arms in Southrepps.

The brownie at Vernon Arms in Southrepps.
– Credit: Stuart Anderson

So the ice cream was obviously not out of a plastic tub brought from the local Tesco or even Waitrose for that matter – it was homemade stuff, dripping with flavor and freshness.

It was so good my wife said she wished she’d asked for two scoops for dessert rather than the lemon and lime cheesecake (£6.95) she ended up with.


The Lemon Lime Cheesecake at Vernon Arms in Southrepps.

The Lemon Lime Cheesecake at Vernon Arms in Southrepps.
– Credit: Stuart Anderson

But for my money, it was even more of a winner than my entree – a huge piece of citrus-infused sweetness. Picture yourself standing on the deck of a cross-Channel ferry looking out towards the White Cliffs of Dover and you’ll get a sense of the scale of this absolute beast.

The cheesecake was too big for her to finish, so I was more than happy to jump in as an over-eager understudy waiting in the wings to take over as the panto entered the home stretch of her race . It was amazing, with the biscuit base showing no hint of a soggy bottom.

Another pair of plates cleaned and two happy customers heading home.

Setting

Every village should have a pub like the Vernon Arms. It’s a heap of bricks and flint, impossible to miss as you enter Southrepps, at a junction in the High Street halfway between the parish church and the town hall.

You enter a friendly central tap room with small groups of people standing and chatting, a pool table on one side and a coffee table with lounge furniture on the other. There’s a fireplace at each end and enough quirky interior features to occupy any wandering eye.

Next to this space there are at least three small dining areas with sturdy wooden tables and chairs. We were seated in the light and airy front room – a very cozy environment with old damask wallpaper, stacks of books, flower arrangements and paintings on the walls that you can even take home for a price.

Value
We paid a total of £51.25 for a starter, two mains, two desserts and two soft drinks. The prices on the menu were what I would call typical of a Norfolk country pub, but the quality of the food and surroundings made it excellent value.

Drinks
There are some common beers on tap as well as some harder to find ones, and all the bigger, wine, hot drinks and non-alcoholic ones you’d expect from a pub. We both stuck to the soft drinks which were £1.95 each.

Bathroom
There are a few toilets at the back, towards the beer garden. They’re clean and tidy with a few signs encouraging people to wash their hands – always a good thing, especially in these times – and there’s sanitizer provided right outside the door.

Accessibility
Great as the bar and dining areas are all on one level and there are no steps to worry about.

A service
We were seated quickly despite not having a reservation and the service was friendly and quick. A member of staff came out a few minutes after each lesson to check if everything was in order, which is always a good thing to do.

Highlight / In summary
Each course was great so it’s hard to choose a dish although my wife would have said the ice cream over the brownie. It’s hard to imagine too many places could beat their Sunday roast.

When we make fun of a meal for a food review, I often joke that once we’re done, I’d like to go back to the kitchen to offer my heartfelt congratulations to the chef. Of course, I don’t always think so and I never really do, but I was genuinely tempted in this case.

Warning
*Our food critics are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on their experience of the place during their visit. The establishment is unaware of our visit, is not informed of our intention to write a review, and the bills are paid by the reviewer. The choice of places reviewed is also independent and not based on places that do or do not advertise in our publications.

If you like it, try these

The Lifeboat Inn, Thornham: Another classic country pub with a menu bursting with creativity.

The Green Inn, Wymondham: One of the nicest pubs in Norfolk – expect traditional mid range grub.

Gunton Weapons: Consistently voted one of the best gastropubs in the area.

Martin E. Berry