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When thinking of the really good country inns in England that I have visited over the years I must admit that my mind settles firmly on those I have visited in North Yorkshire and parts of the West Country. They just seem to get it right – good beer and good food at sensible prices, served in a relaxing and convivial atmosphere. This makes me feel somewhat guilty as I am a confirmed Norfolk patriot. Of course it is a long way up the A1 or down the A30 to travel from Norfolk just for a good pint and a great meal. But fear not! If like me you live in North Norfolk, you do have a quintessential country pub that is equal to the establishments up’t north and down in Devon and Cornwall.
At Southrepps near Cromer is the Vernon Arms, a traditional village pub that is run to a very high standard by Paul and Debbie Briggs. They concentrate on creating a warm and inviting atmosphere that attracts the locals, weekenders and holidaymakers alike. The Vernon experience means that you will not have to remove your walking boots and leave your well-behaved dog tied up outside while you enjoy a drink or a meal. The log fire blazes throughout the winter months and the large leather sofa that is positioned in front of it is highly sought after as a prized drinking position.
The building itself is a typical red brick and flint Norfolk pub that was built when horses rather than tractors were used to plough the nearby fields. There is a gravelled forecourt for parking (park at the nearby village hall if full) and a large lawn at the rear with picnic tables for eating al fresco during those North Norfolk scorching summer months that we all love. Those that wish to smoke are accommodated with their own covered area at the front of the pub that even has a log burner to keep them warm.
You will not see a trace of Farrow and Ball paint at the Vernon and the pub’s interior is practical rather than theme-pub glossy in appearance. The dining tables vary in size from those just for two, up to large tables seating eight. During the festive season the dining areas are adapted to cater for larger parties.
The Vernon’s chef relies on local produce in season and the quality of the fish and meat is outstanding. He produces filling meals to warm you up in the winter and lighter dishes (the Cromer crab salads are great) are available during the warmer months. If you are a vegetarian there is always a choice that will suit. The offerings on the daily special’s board are interesting and imaginative.
The staff at the Vernon are well-trained, efficient and friendly. As the food is freshly cooked you might have to wait for about 15 minutes at busy times for your main course to be delivered. The waiter or waitress will keep you well supplied with your favourite tipple while you are waiting.
This is a great English village pub with welcoming hosts, a range of house and guest beers and great food. What more could you want?
If you wish to dine at the weekend it is advisable to book. This is essential during the summer as the pub can be very busy at times.
Paul and Debbie are very community orientated and the pub acts as a focal point for village events during the summer. A live band performs on the forecourt during the events. The Vernon’s beer festival is particularly recommended with a great choice of beers to try and hot snacks being served from an outside stall.
If you are a local you don’t need to be told the worth of the Vernon. If you are a potential visitor who is considering booking a North Norfolk holiday cottage I would advise that you try to find one near Southrepps. By the way, there is an excellent B&B just down the road at Thorpe market. The Vernon’s attractions aside, this area is a very good base from which to explore the beautiful North Norfolk coast.
Where is it?
Phone: 01263 833355
For your satnav: NR11 8NP