A Review of Pamela’s Restaurant and Cocktail Bar, Great Yarmouth

If you earn in a city like Paris, New York or London, if you live the 13-hour-day-at the-office routine, whereby eating out is almost the easier option and if you have even a whiff of interest in global cuisine, I suspect your journey into the world of food snobbery will be a speedy, effortless and seamless one. It is easy for those of us who live not just in geographical capitals but also food capitals of the world to forget that the genius of food craft is not confined to our cities. London’s leading and award-winning chefs did not fall out of their mothers’ wombs in the glitzy kitchens of Michelin starred restaurants.

They, like us, had a variety of backgrounds and upbringings, grafted to try and perfect their chosen art form and found themselves in institutions they are passionate about as a result.

Pamela's Restaurant Great Yarmouth
Pamela’s Restaurant Great Yarmouth

Throughout the United Kingdom, in other cities, towns, villages and households, budding and established masterchefs are lurking behind unassuming doors, proudly dishing up their signature plates with aesthetic artistry and polished, professional service, bringing the joy of the fine dining experience to communities all over the country.

Pamela's Cocktail Bar Restaurant Review

Pamela’s Restaurant – Fine Dining in Great Yarmouth

Pamela’s Cocktail Bar and Restaurant in Great Yarmouth is one such place and we discovered it earlier this month when we ventured over to the Suffolk seaside to celebrate my father in law’s birthday.

silver service luxury dining East Anglia

My in-laws have lived in this area for well over three decades and Pumpkin’s earliest memories all stem from this region, yet it was Trip Advisor that led us to this elegant restaurant near the seaside. Love or hate Trip Advisor, there is no denying that there are some restaurant gems just waiting to be uncovered on it, if you can face sifting through the reams of subjective and often polar reviews.

restaurant scallop starter
Succulent Starter Scallops at Pamela’s

I rarely write specific restaurant reviews – travel writing alone keeps me busy a-plenty and there are more than enough food bloggers out there who do a far better job of the food chat than I ever could. But I simply couldn’t resist showing you what we found at Pamela’s and I hope that if you think of, hear of or visit Great Yarmouth one day, aside from the images of beach huts and fish and chips on the pier, you will also remember to look up Pamela’s.

Rum Baba Dessert Rose Pistachio
Rum baba with Rose Petals, Pistachio & Rose Ice Cream at Pamela’s

Aware that this would be a restaurant where we all pay a set price per head for 3 courses, we tried to eat light earlier in the day.  Then again, we are of Indian heritage and once an Indian mum, always an Indian mum and every time we visit either one of the Mums, we gain a little weight; nothing we can’t shake off with a week back in our London abode but we’ve learned to be realistic about food portion goals when staying with family!

elegant cocktail bars East Anglia seaside

Cocktails at Pamela’s Bar

The night started off with us ringing the doorbell of a cosy white door to be greeted by waistcoat-clad members of staff who took us through to a glowing bar, illuminated by fairy lights, studded with tasteful soft furnishings and dishing up some salty nibbles whilst we perused the drinks menu.

Pamela's Bar Restaurant Great Yarmouth

We left the men to dabble in a tipple whilst Mum in law and I stared indecisively at the range of non-alcoholic cocktails on offer.

best bars Great Yarmouth Suffolk

The strawberry and mint mocktail came highly recommended as a refreshing option with which to start the evening and my belief in that assertion was corroborated by the fact that I had ordered and finished my 2nd one before the bread basket had even come out for the night.

cocktail bar Yarmouth Suffolk

They request you to order your starters and main courses downstairs at the bar before you are accompanied upstairs to your table but to give us a flavour as to how well fed we would be, a collection of four Piri Piri chicken amuse bouches arrived our way.

Pamela's restaurant review Suffolk

We were led upstairs to our table on one side of a rustic, converted barn with wooden panels above us, silver plates in front of us and a glimpse into the hard-at-work chefs in the distance. This is comfortably the kind of restaurant where you could don your glad rags. I really wished I had been wearing something a little more glamorous than a bohemian maxi dress.

The staff were insistent on helping us carry our belongings and drinks up to our table and this form of helpful, guest-orientated hospitality was to continue throughout the night. Having got the ordering out of the way already, we were free to toast the occasion with a basket of fresh bread brought to help us along, the contents including jalapeno bread, olive bread and even a homemade chicken pasty. I cannot tell you the glee in Pumpkin’s face upon mention of the final item – I am not sure a person has ever been so happy to see a restaurant bread basket.

restaurant bread basket chicken pasty

The Gourmet 3 course Meal at Pamela’s

Our starter choices included scallops with ham hock croquettes, a mini lamb burger in black bread with fries and Japanese fish cakes.

Japanese fish cake
Japanese fish cake

Lamb Cheese Burger black bread

One of the special things about reserving a table at this restaurant was the fact that we hadn’t been able to see the exact menu in advance (though we did get some clues from the sample menu on their Facebook page.) Far from being a bad thing, this meant that for those of us old enough to remember an era of deciding food choices AFTER  arriving at the restaurant, we were able to take a trip down memory lane and do things the old-fashioned way. I had forgotten how liberating it is to choose your meal at the restaurant and not the night before on your screen.

luxury fine dining restaurant Suffolk

The manager of the restaurant told us that they change their menu frequently and always seek to experiment with flavours and ingredients, which keeps even regular diners on their toes. My main course for the night was pan-fried hake on a bed of quinoa with a coconut broth, whilst Mum in law chose a duck option, served with cherry jus on a bed of rice. Apologies for the absence of detailed ingredient lists here (and the somewhat blurry photographs) – as you can see, I’m still a novice as far as food blogging goes 😀

duck main course Pamela's Yarmouth

My father in law’s gin cured salmon and pickled cucumber with black rice probably won the accolade of most uniquely presented main course of the night, a trend he would also spot above the rest of us shortly afterwards in the dessert stakes.

gin salmon pickled cucumber
Gin-cured salmon

Aside from the classic British staples that were on offer on the menu, I liked the twist of world ingredients and flavours that featured, which meant that there’s something for everyone. It’s the one and only time I’ve ever seen an Indian-inspired chicken “Kiev” with butternut squash, and Sag Aloo (spinach and potato), which ended up being Pumpkin’s selection for the evening.

Best Suffolk East Anglia restaurants

The meal was substantial but well-paced and we weren’t made to feel rushed, which allowed us a bit of time to digest properly before we moved onto desserts. Whilst Pumpkin and I rarely choose set menus or tasting menus when we’re out together, for a celebration, it is quite a decadent treat for all diners to know that they will be partaking in a full start-to-finish feast.

It also means that everyone gets to enjoy dessert (though I have been told off by the dentist this week about sugar consumption so I’m on my best behaviour for now.)

Mini Lamb Burger Fries

Pumpkin couldn’t take his eyes off the banana creme brulee with salted toffee brownie and caramel ice cream, the crème brulee arriving with an active flame hovering above it, crisping up its ceiling to perfection. Their listed chocolate dessert was unavailable so instead, one of us went for the alternative, a chocolate pave with hazelnut ice cream.

Creme Brulle Brownie Ice Cream

Unsure if I had ever tried Rum Baba before (a type of cake usually soaked in rum), I was intrigued to try out Pamela’s version, served with rose petals, rose ice cream and pistachio. Rose and pistachio are such commonly used ingredients in Middle Eastern cooking so the description reminded me of my childhood in Saudi Arabia (minus the rum of course!)

As I alluded to earlier, however, it was Dad in law’s Pimms and lemonade cheesecake with jelly that had the most fun, fanciful and dare I say it, feminine presentation out of all the desserts but he reported back that it was a flawless summer dessert, resonated by his flawlessly clean plate at the end of the meal.

Pimms Lemonade Cheesecake

Mini, the owner and manager of the restaurant who chatted to us like we were old friends, poignantly told us that she named the restaurant in memory of her Mother in law, so it felt really special that I was dining in this utterly charming restaurant for the first time with my own Mother in law too.

Just when you think there can’t be any more thoughtful touches and surprises left, the bill is brought to you in what can only be described as a miniature version of Aladdin’s treasure chest (which Mimi decorated herself) accompanied by a collection of chocolate petit fours. How cute are the pink Lego piece and the chocolate bolt?! (Disclaimer – I did have to ask Pumpkin if this was a nut or a bolt) 😀

handmade chocolate petits fours

If you’re used to London fine dining prices, you will be very pleasantly surprised by the value for money you get here, when you consider all that the dinner and drinks experience includes. But even if you aren’t used to London restaurant price brackets, this is exactly the kind of swish, undiscovered, gourmet, fine dining experience hidden behind a small door that I was talking about at the start of the post and precisely the type of food finds that I love discovering both in my own city and across the UK. I only hope that I stumble across more such restaurants, hiding in other hidden corners of the country.

If you want to see some of the other restaurants that inspired me to put pen to paper, have a peek at Cuca Restaurant in Bali or a Spanish-themed afternoon tea in London.

Have you ever stumbled upon a restaurant that took you completely by surprise?

35 thoughts on “A Review of Pamela’s Restaurant and Cocktail Bar, Great Yarmouth

  1. I always look at the menu online and pick beforehand haha! The Indian style chicken kiev sounds delicious and homemade chicken pasty in a bread basket?! I can understand the enthusiasm! Whatever that glittering dessert is, I want it! We’re going on a last minute road trip next week (location to be decided) and were considering Norfolk so I will definitely check this place out if we’re nearby 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 23, 2016 — 8:26 pm

      Norfolk is ideal for a weekend break road trip from London Ayla & there’s quite a lot of diverse things to do from seal spotting trips to beautiful country manor houses, rugged coastline & seaside piers! But if that doesn’t sell it enough, just about anything you order here will seal the deal – such a fabulous little restaurant! ☺

  2. Ladies what travel July 19, 2016 — 2:42 pm

    Wow, what a great find. I love it when you find quirky eateries like this where you wouldn’t expect it. It’s true though, areas like this can get overlooked for the big cities – I’m making a mission of going out exploring the local village pubs to uncover hidden culinary gems! 😉

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 23, 2016 — 8:31 pm

      Good for you Keri – after this experience in Yarmouth, I’ll be doing the same when I’m travelling elsewhere in the UK too because this restaurant really came as such a wonderful surprise! Whenever we do countryside weekend breaks with friends, we love finding fab pub food so do share your best pub finds on your blog ☺

    2. What a great find, especially for somewhere like Great Yarmouth where I wouldn’t necessarily say something like this would instantly come to mind. Great childhood memories at the beaches there though!

      1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 19, 2016 — 6:49 pm

        Thanks Adam! I never imagined we’d stumble upon somewhere like this in Yarmouth either & I think that’s why it came as an even more pleasant surprise! Quite a few people I have spoken to about Yarmouth have mentioned the same thing about it conjuring up childhood seaside memories there as children. I never went there as a child so made up for lost time on this visit with some fish and chips on the pier 🙂

  3. As an avid pre-dining menu checker, I also like the novelty of turning up without any preconceived notion of what I’ll have… I wish I had the willpower of doing it more often as it is quite nice! I think this looks like a wonderful spot and I wholeheartedly agree with you on there being a huge selection of top quality restaurants outside of London – people need to explore more!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 23, 2016 — 8:38 pm

      Definitely Connie! It’s got us excited about having a better snoop around in that area again next time we’re at my in laws’ places to try and discover what other foodiediaries gems might be lurking around the area. It really was liberating to just make our choices at the restaurant on a whim for once! :mrgreen:

  4. Shikha, I think you make a wonderful food blogger! Loved the photos, every dish is so beautifully plated and it is always nice to hear that the taste matched the presentation. I personally hate TripAdvisor, BUT can totally agree that it can lead you to some wonderful discoveries. The most recent one was wagyu restaurant in Kobe. xoxo, nano

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 23, 2016 — 8:40 pm

      Thanks so much Nano! That’s so lovely to read especially as I don’t do the restaurant reviews very often! I too have had a mixed bag of results with Trip Advisor recommendations including some real let downs but on this occasion, we were led onto a winner! ☺ x

  5. The creme brûlée caught my eye too! All the dishes look so colourful!!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 23, 2016 — 8:41 pm

      I LOVE a creme brulee with a perfect crisp, straight out the oven or blow torch! They were so creative with their colours & experimental flavours ☺

  6. This definitely sounds like a great find Shikha. Every course looks amazing! I love all of the little details and the Lego chocolate is very cool. Hope you risked the wrath of your dentist for that 😉

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 23, 2016 — 8:52 pm

      Hehe, luckily this was pre dentist Emily! Literally every starter and main we tried was unique in both in flavour & appearance & it felt like we were in the middle of a Michelin star London restaurant when in fact it was the gorgeous wooden barn interiors in Yarmouth – loved how special they make you feel here ☺

  7. Sounds like it was a great night out Shikha. That flaming banana crème brulee looks amazing! Hehe the chocolate bolt is so cute, I’m sure it was delicious! 😉

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 23, 2016 — 8:54 pm

      The chocolate petit fours were just as tasty as they were photogenic Priti!! All of the desserts were tasty but that creme brulee in particular waa cooked to perfection! 👌

  8. I love your restaurant reviews. I have a love / hate relationship with TripAdvisor but I always check it for hotels!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 23, 2016 — 9:02 pm

      Aww thank you Angie! That’s so lovely of you to say ☺ I’m the same with Trip Advisor – I much prefer it for hotel reviews but for restaurants, it has left me with a real mix of finds – some, like this one, have been wonderful but I’ve also ended up dining at some rather anti climactic places as a result of trusting the TA reviews. Definitely a mixed bag of suggestions on that site!

  9. food is looking so delicious and yummy. i didn’t check it but soon i want to check it and you shared amazing photos.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 23, 2016 — 9:05 pm

      The food was fabulous!

  10. The presentation of this food is beautiful, and the restaurant looks very inviting too. Love the stylish look of the desserts especially.

    Great review!

    Laura xo
    http://www.shehearts.net

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 4, 2016 — 6:25 pm

      Thanks so much! It really was a great food find & desserts were definitely the highlight with their funky presentation! Was a good lesson in looking for fab foodie spots outside the city sometimes ☺

  11. It’s been years since I’ve visited Great Yarmouth but this place looks like a great find! Fab looking desserts!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 4, 2016 — 6:29 pm

      Well my in laws hadn’t even known about it despite living in the area for decades! Definitely worth a dinner stop next time you’re in the area ☺

  12. The rum baba looks incredible and the treasure chest is great fun!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 4, 2016 — 6:30 pm

      The rumbaba waa DELISH Suze!! Earl Grey flavour paired with pistachio & rose worked so well together!

  13. I suddenly feel the need to pop along to Great Yarmouth all of a sudden!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 4, 2016 — 6:33 pm

      Be sure to put on your poshest frock if you do Emma- this one’s a goodun

  14. Your first sentence is hilarious!! haha! This place looks great! The food looks so interesting, especially the Japanese fish cakes and the desserts! I would love to try it out some time!

    Ash | Liakada

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 4, 2016 — 6:38 pm

      Hehehe, thank you Ash! But it’s true though right – big fabulous cities have a way of breeding food snobs?!! The whole meal was fabulous but the desserts in particular were really impressive & I love that they keep changing their menu as I already want to go back!

  15. I love making trips out of London to explore and sample somewhere new – and your review of Pamela’s is great to read. The food looks wonderful and I’d really like to taste that strawberry and mint mocktail! Great post.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 16, 2016 — 10:27 am

      I’m exactly the same Bella! I love London but sometimes an escape is highly necessary and all the better when you find a place like this, which makes you realise just how many fabulous restaurants exist outside the city! I highly recommend a visit there if you are ever in the area. Thanks so much for reading! 🙂

  16. We went to Pamela’s for the first time again since it had re opened I have got to say the food and service from the staff was absolutely excellent and was very surprised when I asked for the bill how much it was .me and my wife agreed that we will be going back more often now as this is a restauraunt you would expect to see in London not Great Yarmouth.I can not recommend it enough if you are going to have a stay in Great Yarmouth this is a restauraunt that you need to book for top class .

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 26, 2017 — 6:46 pm

      I completely agree Derek & am so pleased to hear that you had the same wonderful quality experience & service that we did! I’m a Londoner & like you say, even comparing it to some London restaurants I’ve been to, Pamela’s was far superior! We’re often back visiting family near Yarmouth & we are all sold that we’ll definitely going to return! Thanks so much for sharing your experience ☺

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