A Broads' pub has launched candlelit dining greenhouses - here's what to expect
- Credit: The Lion at Thurne
A trio of dining greenhouses has sprung up in the grounds of a popular Broads' pub offering an exclusive restaurant experience for households during the Covid-19 era of social distancing.
Liz Coates donned her bobble hat and coat to try it out for herself.
With the hospitality sector being badly hit during the two lockdowns, restaurants have had to rethink their offer with takeaways, deliveries, and outdoor dining becoming the new normal - even in December.
The Lion, at Thurne, inspired by the Dutch model, has launched three dining greenhouses, each seating six and billed as perfect for the pandemic, all styled differently and with great care and attention to detail.
We dined in The Thyme (the others are The Olive and The Palm), a tastefully decorated garden room, strung with fairy lights, a flickering candelabra, and gorgeous trimmings.
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The owners have thought of everything, even providing umbrellas for a trip to the loo, coat hangers and hooks, and hot water bottles for our exclusive use - perfect for a tender specimen like me that needs warmth to flourish.
There's no actual heating, but we were soon removing layers and putting aside our water bottles even though it was around five degrees outside.
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(I had a blanket on standby in the car but didn't need it.)
It was a rain-lashed grey old day so a hearty three-course Sunday lunch sounded just the thing and there was lots to deliberate over on the menu (including a veggie option, but no fish).
My husband started with chicken and chorizo arancini with tomato sauce and sweet pepper coulis, and I opted for spiced parsnip soup with toasted sourdough.
The main meals were all a version of the traditional Sunday lunch, huge steaming portions of veg dominated by an outlandish Yorkshire.
No complaints from either side of the table - just uncertainty about where we were going to shoehorn in the pud.
For dessert I had sea salt chocolate mousse with white chocolate foam - served like a frothy pint in a dimpled glass.
My husband had the mulled pear and apple crumble with clotted cream. Again, there was no scrimping on portions and he left a bit after an heroic effort.
We didn't miss the general restaurant hubbub and liked that we were sealed off, our conversations not overheard, and crucially, not having to eavesdrop on anyone else's.
The cushioned picnic-benches were comfortable and overall we were there for just over two hours.
The service was probably about the right length, the waiters were attentive and didn't intrude on our private space (there is a buzzer to summon help).
In one of the other greenhouses there was a family including a young child and a dog - both seen and not heard which probably made it more relaxing for them.
It all felt very friendly and safe and although we dined in the day we both said it would look super pretty and atmospheric at night with all the lights on.
For us it felt like the perfect way to eat out in a quirky setting, while feeling pretty insulated from the risks of the virus.
There is parking at the pub.