A 25-year-old Wildebeest went in to a Pub –

Its Friday night and I’ve been invited in to The Wildebeest Arms, Stoke Holy Cross to try their special anniversary menu. 

I’m ecstatic – one I get away from my teens on a date night with hubby, two I already know the foods good and three the head chef just won chef of the year – what could go wrong.

For me it’s all about the food I’m happy to eat on a grass verge if the foods sensational – a toilet might be going too far. But then again now as I’m turning in to an old bird, a bit of comfort is good too – so if the foods good and all else is, I’m extra ecstatic.

That’s what you get at the Wildebeest, staff that know what they’re doing, friendly efficient service, a good choice of drinks, a superb menu, averagely well priced, good clean loos, comfy chairs, room on the tables, nice water jugs (have you seen them), lovely décor, a good atmosphere, parking plus of course really great food.

Before the Beast it was a Red Lion, a locals pub. It changed in to a gastro pub in 1994 with an African theme – I don’t think the locals were happy at the time, who likes change until we try change and then like the change!. But it’s been a village pub since 1837.

Anyway, roll back 25 years when Daniel Smith (A handsomer Alexander Armstrong) took over with his business partner and formed G & D ventures Group. They also have the Ingham Swan (still pissed off I never got invited to the launch party night !!!) and the Warwick Street Social both with a good reputation for food. I’ve not been to the Ingham Swan yet – no, I’m not that pissed off, just haven’t got round to it yet – but I have been to the Warwick a few times, thats usually one on Norfolk Restaurant Week.

Now award-winning chef Fabio Miani heads up the brigade, he’s from Lakenham – – no not really, he’s from Italy. He moved to England at 18. Working at The Wildebeest from 2018 as a senior sous chef under Head chef Charlie Wilson (another chef of the year winner).

Of, course they are not the only 2 chefs from The Wildebeest to win chef of the year – Daniel Smith won it in 2014. A chef who has worked under Michel Roux Jr in Le Gavroche and Galton Blackiston a Morston, where he got a Michelin star as head chef at 23. 

So, with all that under his belt – the food is going to shine.

For a very respectful £38 you get a 5-course gastronomic meal  – (6 if you include the bread, 7 if you buy a tea and include the petit fours)

Fresh flavoursome bread rolls and flavoured butter awaits you on your table with the tastiest of leek ash crisps (I’m sure these change). In fact, although Mr Smith maybe horrified I had a little bit of bread with a good lathering of sundried tomato and chive butter with crisps on top – – – bloomin gorgeous. (I’m not a pleb honest!)

  • Espuma of White Onion Soup– basically a gorgeously delicious light and airy foamed soup, garnished with puffed wheat and local crumbled goats cheese. (Norfolk Mardler)
  • Crab Tortellini– A large bulbous stuffed pasta parcel crammed with delicate Cromer crab in a buttery sauce with saffron, fennel and brown shrimps.
  • Fillet of Beef, potato terrine with some gorgeous accompaniments including truffled mushrooms (I’ll leave you some surprises) The fillet was so tender and rested to perfection – probably the best fillet I’ve ever had. It melted in your mouth and ever element all 8 of them were divine – simply divine.
  • Strawberry & Black pepper Foam made from Bullard’s Gin – a great refreshing touch to the meal.
  • Deconstructed Bakewell – well, this was amazing. Soft almond sponge, raspberry bavouis, the sweetest of sable and creamy vanilla ice-cream – pure perfection. (I was a pastry chef you know)

Plus, if you order coffees you get the petit fours – a plate of more scrumptiousness. Caramel filled chocolate and a fruit chew served on a plate with strawberry’s, coulis and crumb – – I had to run my finger along the plate and lap it up – – it had to be done.

The wine flight is £25 per person but they also have a well-stocked bar. 

Thank you Alexander Armstrong from Pointless – you’re a very good chef and your team is remarkable. If I could be critical and think of anything wrong with the food, service or ambience – I’d say – – am, actually can’t think of anything. I even love the water jugs that make a glugging sound when you pour them.

Did I mention they use a lot of local Norfolk produce – – ?

Simply Lovely.


01508 492497


The Wildebeest
82-86 Norwich Rd
Stoke Holy Cross
Norwich, Norfolk
NR14 8QJ


Lunch: 12.00pm to 2.00pm (excluding Sunday)

Dinner: 6.30pm to 9.00pm

Sunday: 12.00pm to 3.00pm, 6.00pm to 8.00pm

By Zena Leech-Calton ©


All for the love of food