Deborah Cleland-Harris discovers some of the best dog-friendly eateries in Norfolk
As a big foodie and also the owner of a gorgeous Labradoodle pup called Peggy, it’s very important that wherever she goes, they’re enamoured by her and I’m enamoured by their (homemade, ideally locally sourced) food… décor, service and location. I don’t ask for much. So, Peggy’s been having a great time at some of the best establishments around… and whether it be a café, restaurant or pub, there are a couple of important questions I need the answer to… Do they have a dog bowl? Do they really love Peggy? You can assume all the places mentioned here get a big tick in regards to the things mentioned above. Though I have to confess, with summer well and truly here, most of my choices are in and around the stunning North Norfolk Coast.
The country village of Stiffkey is ‘well’ located next to Wells-next-the-Sea in a lovely village that also has a nice café and craft shop. This fairly traditional pub has a lovely contemporary feel and some friends and I enjoyed a succulent Sunday roast here, something that is surprisingly difficult to find. It was quite busy, so it took a while for the dog bowl to arrive (though there was one outside). There’s also accommodation at the pub. www.stiffkey.com
My husband and I recently discovered this fantastic spot by fluke, and it has since (apart from Wells and its beach café) become our favourite place to go on a sunny day. Truly a dog-friendly café, they even make their own dog biscuits with cheese, garlic and eggs – I even had a bite, they’re nice. They serve all-day breakfasts, lasagna, burgers and a children’s menu that includes marmite, peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches. I’m not a kid but I was tempted. The café sits next to the lifeboat station, on the sandy shore by the dunes and beach huts. It doesn’t get much more idyllic than this.
This is one of my all-time favourite gastropubs, not just for the fantastically warm welcome and endless affection towards my pup – they must spend a small fortune with all the dog treats they give away. The food is great, and when the main meals stop, there’s always the late night freshly made pizza options – the toppings are very nice. But one of the best things about this gastropub is the location and view across stunning Wells harbour. goldenfleecewells.co.uk
There are a couple of recently opened cafes in Norwich that have caught my eye, the first is Carberry Cafe serving fab ice creams such as salted caramel and Oreo, great if you’re hanging out in the city in the summer months. While in the winter they plan to serve waffles, and it’s near Norwich Cathedral.
My second offering North (the sister venue of Frank’s Bar also in Norwich) is practically opposite in the cool Northern Quarter. Located in an historic old merchant house, it has instantly become one of my favourite places not only because of its fantastic homemade food but also for its multifaceted appeal – it’s a bar, café, music and arts venue. There is a lovely continental style courtyard where dogs are allowed, which is great on those warm sunny days. And if you’ve forgotten your fluff of love, there’s a pup mooching around (though who it belongs to is unknown). Hmmm, doggy cafes, why hasn’t anyone invented that? www.franksbar.co.uk/north/
If you’ve seen BBC2’s Normal For Norfolk, you’ll know all about Wiveton Hall (a 17th century manor house) and its owner Desmond MacCarthy. He’s an eccentric character and the café, which lies in the grounds is equally colourful and quaint – and it overlooks the mesmerising marshes (minutes from Cley beach). Homegrown fruit and veg is used in the simply delicious food. Fancy a bit of strawberry and raspberry picking? You can do that here and what a fun day out it makes. Plus, there are plenty of homemade products to stock your pantry with, chutneys, jams and cordials, and lovely arts and crafts. Feeling spoilt for choice? This could be one of my new favourite places. www.wivetonhall.co.uk/restaurant-cafe
A bit busy on the bank holiday weekend, our party of four and Peggy still managed to nab a table surprisingly fast. Top tip, if you’re a twosome, ask to sit on one of the two tables with views directly over the marshes. I mean, what a location. For the food, my brother-in-law said I should try something off grid, so I went for the hallloumi chips and herring roe on sourdough bread. I loved the halloumi chips. Meanwhile my husband had the one thing on the menu that reminded him of his childhood – spam chips. The best thing about this gastropub? The waitress said Peggy was the “cutest dog” she’d ever seen. I’ll be coming back. www.salthouseduncow.com