Review: The Dog, Norton - 'Good honest pub food, a cracking beer garden and a warm welcome'
- Credit: The Dog, Norton
Our food reviewer Mark Heath and his wife Liz visited popular pub The Dog, in Norton, for a late Saturday lunch. Here's what they made of it...
Full disclosure. I'm fond of The Dog - it's a lovely West Suffolk pub with a cracking beer garden and a friendly welcome, plus a roaring fire in the winter.
And, with diners now able to once more go out and eat, we were excited to see what the post-lockdown experience was like there.
We booked a table outside in the Dog's garden - an octagonal area with private tables/spaces around its perimeter, perfect for Covid times - and rocked up at 2.30pm on a Saturday.
That dining arrangement really is perfect for the current climate. You're effectively in your own little bubble so, if you're still a bit jittery about going back out, this could well be the place for you.
Once you've got a table, head inside - masked of course - to order your drinks, grab some menus and a cutlery/condiments box.
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There's a great range of lagers, ales and ciders on offers at the Dog but we're terribly predictable creatures of beer habit, so it was two pints of Peroni for us while we perused the menu.
As well as the usual lunch menu, there's always a big specials board inside, next to the bar, so make sure you grab a picture of that to factor in to your selection process.
On this occasion, we decided we'd try the bar tapas for our starters, sharing some crispy salt and pepper squid and a Suffolk salami/chorizo plate.
For mains, we both went with pub classics - grilled macaroni cheese for me and a southern fried chicken breast burger for Liz.
Again, you order at the bar, collect your wooden spoon with table number and head back to await your food. Inside, of course, is table service - with all waiting staff sporting masks.
Our starters arrived incredibly quickly, and were accompanied by a pat on the head for our omnipresent hound Benson - The Dog, as the name implies, is dog friendly.
The squid was indeed crispy and nicely seasoned. It also wasn't chewy, as so many squid offerings are, and worked nicely with the sweet chilli dip.
The salami/chorizo plate - sourced from Woodbridge Artisan Charcuterie - was also tasty. Multiple slices of both, topped with sliced olives and cornichons.
The cuts were quality and packed with flavour, while the olives and pickles brought crunch and contrast to the party.
Tapas down, we awaited the main event. Again, it came very quickly.
Liz's chicken burger - a full chicken breast covered in a southern-fried coating - was quite the sight. She'd added cheese to the mix too, and was happy with her pick.
Moist chicken in a gently-spiced coating, with the aforementioned cheese, plus lettuce and tomato, all sandwiched in a brioche bun, which wasn't dry as many can be.
A word of appreciation for the chips. Now, I've been many places, and tried many chips, but the Dog's are among the best you will find anywhere - crunchy on the outside, fluffy in the middle and generously-sized too. Wonderful. The BBQ relish was delicious as well.
Across the table, I was tucking into my mac and cheese. It's a dish I'd never normally make myself, so I'm always tempted to order it when I'm out.
The Dog's offering was plentiful - creamy, cheesy macaroni, topped with a grilled crumb and fresh rocket, plus two sizeable servings of garlic bread.
It was very tasty, but also very rich. The rocket and crumb helped cut through that nicely, but ultimately I was defeated. Beaten by mac and cheese. It's what I would have wanted.
And thus the monthly dessert question. I'm afraid in this case, we simply could not find space - apologies, readers. I can say, however, that there is a large dessert menu on offer, packed with pub classics.
That's for another time for us. We'd eaten well.
I know I've already mentioned this, but it's worth stressing just how Covid-secure the Dog's private garden is.
You can keep within your own dining party bubble, outdoors, at tables which happily seat six. It's perfect for those who are wary about returning to meals or drinks out.
The Dog has a large car park out the front, and a few more spaces down the side.
Unless it's a very busy time - Sunday lunch, for example - you should have no problem getting parked.
All-masked, and always friendly - and fans of our dog too. Food came out very quickly.
It's my experience that you will always get a good welcome at The Dog.
Our starters were £5 and £6, the mains £12.50 and £13. All told, the meal was £48.
For me, that's decent value.
Liz enjoyed her chicken burger - and those chips really are cracking.
Having had it before, I can also recommend the Dog's excellent steak burger.
Good honest pub food, a cracking beer garden and a warm welcome.
Our food reviews are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on their experience of the venue when they visited. The establishment is not aware of our visit, is not informed we intend to write a review and bills are paid by the reviewer. The choice of places reviewed is also independent and is not based on venues which do or do not advertise in our publications.