The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
09/01/2014 AT 12:30 PM EDT
and Kate Middleton
made time for a date night on Thursday, despite being knee-deep in renovating their 10-bedroom country house
, Anmer Hall.
The royal pair – he in faded blue jeans and sneakers, she in skinny jeans and a sweater – were spotted at the King's Head Hotel in Great Bircham, spending about two hours at the restaurant before they left holding hands en route to their car.
Towards the end of their meal, the first-time visitors to the pub chatted happily with some locals who approached them at their table, the Sunday Express
The King's Head would not comment on the visit.
As a rule, nearby residents tend to keep their distance. "We see the royals around, but you don't acknowledge them, as it were. We just leave them, so they can be like everyone else," one local tells PEOPLE.
"It's just how we are in Norfolk – we leave people alone. The royal family's been coming here for I don't know how many years, and I like the fact that they can come and just 'be' and do their own thing."
Queen Elizabeth, and before her, King George VI, has longstanding links with the area through the Sandringham estate, on which many of the properties and businesses rely and serve.
The Queen, 88, gifted Anmer Hall – about two miles from the main Sandringham House – to William and Kate a little more than a year ago.
"They want to live [in Anmer Hall] as much as possible," a source close to the couple tells PEOPLE.
The family is expected to spend some time with Queen Elizabeth and the rest of the extended clan up in Scotland before the end of the summer break.
Reporting by MONIQUE JESSEN