After Hours: Dining with an air of formality
May 21, 2008
MUNDFORD — Dinner at Lynford Hall is worth the drive to this small village in Norfolk.
About 20 minutes from RAFs Lakenheath and Mildenhall, the 150-year-old mansion is tucked away in the Thetford Forrest, now springing to life with greenery and deer. Getting to Lynford Hall is part of its charm, rain or shine.
Once renowned as a sporting estate, the hotel also was the setting for several television series including the British classic " ’Allo ’Allo." Needless to say, it’s picturesque.
On to the eating. The food is good, albeit a bit expensive. Let’s face it, the dollar-to-pound conversion makes dining out pricey, even if you’re just grabbing fast food.
That said, Lynford Hall will set you back a few bucks, but the ambiance and friendly staff prevent you from feeling ripped off.
However, take note: The menu did not have prices, though I later discovered (on a separate dessert menu) that main courses cost 19.95 each. You can add another course for 24.95 pounds or go all out with a starter and dessert on either side of your meal for 29.95 pounds. It would have been nice for the waiter to explain that.
My herb-crusted salmon was delicious. A crunchy and savory, but sweet, dusting of bread crumbs topped the fish, which was served with a honey-mustard sauce. It tasted fresh and was cooked perfectly.
As for the roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli, carrots and green beans, I wasn’t really impressed. They tasted fine but (as at most British restaurants I’ve dined) were cooked without any imagination. Or much, if any, seasoning. I like tasting my vegetables uninterrupted by the butter, cheese and dried herbs that overpower vegetables at many American restaurants. But compared to the fish, the sides were ho-hum.
The menu changes daily depending on "whatever takes the chef’s fancy," said Vicky Eyles, one of the affable Lynford Hall staffers.
On a recent night, menu items included asparagus and Parma ham with lemon beurre blanc for starters, pan fried duck breast with leeks and sweet black cherry sauce for a main course and dark chocolate sponge cake for dessert.
The Sunday carvery draws a big crowd and is usually the way repeat customers are hooked, Eyles said. You can get a starter and dessert with the help-yourself-style main course for 15.95 pounds. A carvery is not an all-you-can-eat buffet, though diners are welcomed to seconds, she said.
Facing the inner courtyard, the dining room is small and intimate. The vaulted ceilings give it an air of formality, but it’s simple table settings and decorations make it comfortable. An adjacent pub has an impressive window around which patrons mingle, aside from the bar.
Eyles recommends a walk around the estate after eating. Paths lead through the wooded countryside and to a series of small lakes. In the summer, Lynford Hall hosts barbecues and dinner dances in its lush garden. And the 21-room hotel and conference center is also a popular wedding and event venue that can accommodate small and large groups.
"It’s just such a beautiful place it lends itself to so many things," Eyles said.
So whether you’re looking for a nice dinner out or a place to host your next special occasion or business meeting, Lynford Hall offers a spectacular location and pretty good food.