Bungay Pub Day – Castle Inn (formerly known as the White Lion)
This was the second Bungay venue of the day for us and just writing for me, it seems a little bit of a shame that relatively recently the White Lion was renamed to be the Castle Inn, as it has been a hospitality venue with the White Lion name since the sixteenth century. Although under blue paint, that old name and the Lacon’s Brewery is still prominent to this day and it looked to me at first sight a little muddled especially when there is Three Cooks branding on the signage as well. I imagine that the listed building status is likely the biggest limitation here rather than anything else.
The real ales are on the reverse of the central bar, with the only two other customers in the venue sitting right in front of them hence this zoomed in photo. They had Deuchars and Gone Fishing from Green Jack Brewing, with the prices being reasonable. The service was attentive and friendly, with the atmosphere feeling inviting.
I went for the Gone Fishing from Green Jack Brewery and it tasted as expected and was at the appropriate temperature. It was a peaceful atmosphere in which to enjoy a drink, so we lingered here for a little while. We were thanked when leaving and I liked the pleasant environment that they’ve created here.
Those just wanting a drink are absolutely welcome, but the interior has been set up primarily as a restaurant. There are also four rooms available for those who want to stay overnight and I particularly like how much history about their venue is on their web-site. I noted that they mention the 1750s advertising of rooms mentioned the “latest designs in wallpaper”.
The desserts menu and the other part of the restaurant. I suppose I yearn for the feel of how this must have been in the past, a vibrant pub with bustling trade, but I can’t unfortunately find any old interior photos. Historically this appears to have been a substantial venue with numerous bedrooms, extensive stabling, a bowling green and a large yard.
The venue doesn’t have a menu I can find on-line, but there is one posted up at the front of the pub. They’re running with two menus, one primarily Asian meals and one primarily traditional British food. This seems to be provided by the Three Cooks who have moved from their previous restaurant located a little further down the road. I’m sure that the menus are delicious and everything is beautifully prepared, but with no prior knowledge I’m always a little nervous when there are two completely different menus as I’d rather they just put forward their best food. I’m also, if I’m being honest, not entirely confident about the “kitchen hours may vary” and the use of the word “approximately” as it sounds as though they’re often quiet and so stop serving food early. I’ve always been one for clarity, I just like knowing when a venue opens and closes, along with when the food will be available.
Lovely as the welcome was, I didn’t fully get to grips with this venue, it was a warm and sunny day in late May with a spring menu being advertised alongside a winter themed A-Board. The on-line reviews are broadly positive but still a little mixed for the food, but the accommodation element is well reviewed and it seems well cared for. Looking at the photos on the venue’s web-site, one of the four rooms has the beds in the arches of the old bread proving oven which seems a marvellous piece of history. I can imagine there’s plenty of character in the rooms and it’d be a quaint and very British place to say.
Regardless of my slight confusion over branding, the service was friendly, there were a couple of real ales and the venue was warm and comfortable. They’ve ensured that drinkers are welcome, even though it’s not their main emphasis, and it’ll be interesting to see how the restaurant element develops. As an aside, the venue is also closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so we were fortunate that this wasn’t one of our Wednesday sojourns.