Restaurant review, The Station Hotel, Framlingham: “Great tasting seasonal food in a popular traditional pub”
- Credit: Archant
Emily Cotton dines at The Station Hotel in Framlingham
I headed to The Station Hotel in Framlingham for dinner on a Saturday night with my boyfriend. We walked into the pub (that was already getting busy at 6.30pm, only half an hour after it had opened), found our reserved table and found the pub’s menu on the wall. There were around eight choices for both starters and mains, and four options for dessert. The choice could have been a little more vast, however I imagined the menu was seasonal and would likely change regularly.
For starters I opted for ‘charcuterie with toasted bread and pickles’. When it arrived a wooden board was laid down on the table, covered in a selection of cold meats, toasted pitta breads, pickles and salad. The three meats had a variety of flavours including one with a strong smokey flavour. The pitta breads had a smokey taste too, which I imagine may have been toasted on in the pub’s wood-fired pizza oven. (The Station Hotel Framlingham has a pizza room out back which sells handmade wood-fired pizzas on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays).
My boyfriend chose oysters to start. After having been told that the kitchen was down to its last five (and therefore they would reduce the price as the usual serving size was six) my boyfriend said he was a little worried about the freshness of the oysters, especially as we got to the restaurant just after opening for dinner and he was surely the first person to order them that night. Thankfully the oysters were fresh and served prompt which restored his confidence. The menu board however said they were served with lemon and Tabasco and while the lemon wedge was presented in the middle of the oyster platter, he said he could not even taste a hint of Tabasco.
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Fragments of shell and sand are common in fresh oysters, however, he also spent the moments after each slurp, picking bits of shell out of his mouth which, in truth, were large enough to be considered dangerous if swallowed. He said having to worry about chomping down onto a hard shell or choking during the first course ruined his starter and distracted from being able to even consider enjoying the flavour.
For mains, I chose ‘The Station fish pie and greens’. Cheesy mashed potato topped a selection of fish – I could pick out salmon, prawns and a white fish that I assumed to be cod or haddock – and peas. On the side of the plate also sat a handful of green beans and some wilted spinach. The vegetables were a little cold, but the pie itself was steaming. This came as a little bit of a shock however when I got to the bottom and the peas seemed really solid and crunchy – as if they were still frozen. Regardless of this however, I really enjoyed the fish pie.
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For his main course, my boyfriend ordered confit duck leg with puy lentils, baby beets and chargrilled chicory. The duck was cooked to perfection, falling off the bone and the puy lentils, baby beets and chargrilled chicory packed some serious flavour. This hearty dish perfectly complimented the setting of the candle-lit pub.
As chocolate is my go-to for dessert, I chose the hot chocolate fudge cake and ice cream. I was hoping for a thick slab of cake, layered together with gooey fudge, however what was brought to me was more of a chocolate loaf. The ‘cake’ was a thin slice, how I’d imagine something like banana bread to be cut and served, and had no fudge holding any layers together. I was still a little disappointed as the cake was quite dry, even with a chocolatey fudge-like sauce poured over and a scoop of ice cream on top.
The dessert my boyfriend opted for was the baked pumpkin cheesecake with caramel sauce, choosing it as something seasonal. Admittedly he said he had never tried this particular combination before, but as a fan of both pumpkin and cheesecake, it would likely be a hit. The flavour of the pumpkin and caramel sauce worked perfectly and was definitely the highlight of his night. The texture of the soft, melt-in-the-mouth, cheesecake was complimented by the crunch of sugary crystals and pumpkin seeds on top. After been let down by the starter and worrying this would ruin his dining experience, the main and dessert more than restored his enjoyment.
The Station Hotel is a proper pub pub, and therefore has a vast selection of drinks available. There is a selection of beers and ales on tap as well as multiple bottles in a fridge behind, shelves behind the bar lined with an array of pretty gin bottles and a wine list as long as your arm.
We had booked a table for dinner at the pub and when we first walked in could see different names of parties on the tables. This was handy as no one had noticed us coming in and had therefore we had to look around and show ourselves to our table. We found the menu on the wall, decided what we wanted and then went to the bar to order (this instruction was written on the menu on the wall – we still hadn’t spoken to anyone). Once we had our food though, the staff were prompt with checking up on us to see whether all was okay with our meals and with clearing our empty plates away. We paid for our meal at the bar shortly after which prompted two other diners to start eyeing up our table. As we finished our drinks and began putting on our coats a member of staff was quick to start wiping down our table for them (before we had even walked away). We felt a little rushed to leave but the staff member did say thank you and wished us a lovely weekend as we left.
My only real criticism of my experience at The Station Hotel was its atmosphere. The dining area and bar are in one small area meaning that it is quite loud. When we were sat at our table, we also had people drinking at the bar no more than two feet away from us (and sitting at bar stools meant they were towering over us too). Obviously a pub being busy is a positive thing, however for the type of food you’re being served (and the price you pay for it), it would have been nicer to have a more relaxing dining experience.
Two 3 course meals with one beer and three soft drinks came to just over £65. I think this is reasonable for an occasional meal out for a couple, however if you were paying for a larger group or family, the overall cost might be a little much. Starters ranged from £5 to £10, while mains averaged at £15 to £20. Desserts were all priced at £6.
Location and parking
The Station Hotel is situated on Station Road (B116), which is the main road leading into Framlingham when travelling northbound on the A12. It is easy to spot, almost sitting on the corner of Station Road and Victoria Mill Road. The parking situation is a little more confusing as there aren’t designated spaces outside. There is however space in front of and down the side of the pub that many cars had parked in, therefore we assumed it was okay to do the same. If you’re not comfortable leaving your car here, there are plenty of places to park in the town centre, both on the street and in designated bays.
The baked pumpkin cheesecake with caramel sauce! I’d never choose baked cheesecake as a dessert and I’d definitely never choose pumpkin as a flavour myself but tasting this has taught me to broaden my taste buds a little – it was delicious. I’m presuming this dessert won’t stick around on the menu long as the vegetable is only in season from October to December, but if you visit and its still available, I urge you to give it a try.
The Station Hotel has great tasting food and friendly staff, however the hustle and bustle of regular drinkers and diners all in close proximity can be a little overwhelming, especially if you’re looking for a quiet meal out.