Pub Float – The Ferry House, Surlingham

When you’ve spent all day in the wind, freezing your proverbials off with only the occasional tiny cup of tea to heat up your icicle body, you really appreciate anything warm. Luckily for us, The Ferry House in Surlingham has warmth in spades.

First, the welcome: in our smelly, unwashed state you could forgive local bar staff for trying to seat us all far, far away from their more genteel customers, outside if at all possible. Not here. Moments after we arrived staff were shuffling tables and Valentine’s Day bookings around to accommodate our group all together, right next to the roaring fire at the centre of the room. They didn’t even seem to mind when one of our less graceful companions accidentally took his shirt off.

In retrospect, seating us by the fire may have had more to do with making us thirsty than being friendly. That’s certainly the effect it had. Between turns at Jenga we work through the four Norfolk favourites: Woodford Wherry, Adnam’s Broadside and Southwold Bitter, and Humpty Dumpty’s Little Sharpie.

Beer notes: Little Sharpie, Humpty Dumpty

At 3.8%, Sharpie’s just the right strength for a session…or so we thought. Turns out, if you’ve been gasping for a drink all day and then sit right next to a roaring fire, you drink somewhat faster than usual.

It certainly helped that Little Sharpie is so drinkable. It’s light, but malty and smooth. In a way it’s like sipping on digestive biscuits, which is every child’s dream. 4/5

All this is a bit beside the point, however. We didn’t come here for the Jenga, or the fire, or even the beer (alright, the beer was at least part of the reason). We came here for the pie.

On our boat trip last year we stopped off at The Ferry Inn for lunch and just missed out on the last fish pie. We had to watch, agonisingly close, as that golden pot of cheesy mashed potato and tender fish was demolished by the couple sitting next to us. Never again, we pledged. This time, we called the pub in advance and made sure they had enough.

There’s also a range of specials and even a barrel.

You know that saying: “never meet your heroes”? I was never expecting that to apply to a fish pie,  but here it was true. The other items on the menu – the lamb shank, the steak and ale pie, even the jacket potato – were hearty, warming and delicious. But the fish pie? A disappointment.

It’s a shame, because other than that, and the landlord repeatedly insisting that we must stay for breakfast, this is a fantastic pub. Fish pie or not, we’ll be back again next year. 4/5

How not to take your jumper off in a public place

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