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Eating out: The Jolly Sailors, Pakefield

PUBLISHED: 13:19 31 July 2010 | UPDATED: 17:39 20 February 2013

Eating out: The Jolly Sailors, Pakefield

Eating out: The Jolly Sailors, Pakefield

Sarah Brealey enjoys hearty pub food at off the beaten track Pakefield

Sarah Brealey enjoys hearty pub food at off the beaten track Pakefield

It is easy to overlook Pakefield in favour of its bigger and brasher neighbour, Lowestoft, but here is a charming stretch of the Suffolk coast: miles of beach to stretch your legs, with the piers and amusements of the town just round the corner should you feel the need.
The pebbly beach curves gently southwards, quiet and strangely peaceful after the bustle of Lowestoft to the north. It is popular with dog-walkers, while a colony of little terns have also made it their home.
The Jolly Sailors is a Pakefield institution, famous for its carvery but also justly popular for its fish and chips and other fish dishes.
Perched on the seafront, it could hardly be closer to the beach, and if the view of the sea from the windows is not enough, you can sit at the tables outside and enjoy the sea air. At weekends it is packed with all kinds of diners: families, day-trippers, birthday celebrations and couples of all ages. They all know a good thing when they see it: home-made food fairly priced, nothing too fancy, but reliably good-quality. Prices vary, but you can pay around 4.50 for most of the starters on the main menu, and from 7.50 for main courses up to 15 for sirloin steak.
The menu offers a challenge to the indecisive: a fair-sized list is supplemented by all manner of specials. Starters might include fish cakes or breaded mushrooms, while the deep-fried brie on the menu reminded me of the few months I once spent in Hastings, where every restaurant inexplicably seemed to have deep-fried brie on its menu. Among the regular main courses are luxury fish pie, tuna loin, sausage and mash, and chicken stroganoff.
There is a short selection of wines, and a choice of real ales four on our visit, three of which were from Suffolk St Peters organic best bitter, Mauldons Mole Trap, Adnams bitter and Youngs bitter. Families are welcome, and there is a childrens menu as well as some crayons and other activities to keep the little ones amused.
A starter of whitebait was excellent: plentiful, virtually greaseless, crispy on the outside and meltingly soft in the middle. We also had a home-made asparagus soup, subtle and summery, which came with half a baguette.
The Jolly Sailors is famous for its carvery, which you can get every day. At Sunday lunchtimes you may have to put up with a short queue for the chance to pile your plate high with a choice of meats, Yorkshire puddings, and vegetables from roast potatoes to broccoli to carrots to red cabbage.
You do not have to partake of the carvery to find entertainment in comparing the heights of the plates as they are carried past, and the varying construction techniques to achieve it, from mashed-potato-as-cement to Jenga-style vegetable stacking. Sadly many people seem to have eyes bigger than their stomachs.
We eschewed the carvery on this occasion in favour of trying some of the other main courses. Sea bass fillet was served on a mountain of mashed potato and surrounded by plentiful peas. It was drizzled with lemon butter and packed quite a citrus punch.
Vegetable lasagne was super-cheesy and filled with all kinds of vegetables, from peppers, courgettes, onions and tomatoes, to baby corn and mange tout. It came with a chunky salad, garlic bread and chips.
We added to our over-stretched stomachs with puddings, of which there was a tempting choice. Apple crumble had chunky pieces of apple and a sweet topping which was just right with the creamy custard.
The show-stealer, however, was certainly my raspberry and strawberry crunch. A sky-high sundae, it contained layers of raspberry sorbet, strawberry sorbet, meringue pieces, whipped cream, vanilla ice-cream, raspberry sauce and raspberries. It was a dessert to make one feel like an excited, overgrown child, and with the sea outside it was the perfect setting to eat it.

The Jolly Sailors, Pakefield Street, Lowestoft, 01502 561 398


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