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Peek into the heritage, half-timbered buildings of Norwich and you may be surprised to discover cutting edge culinary delights. We’ve compiled a list of the top restaurants, bars and cafés where you can sample the best of local cuisine, from traditional pub fair and casual afternoon teas to fine dining with innovative flavour combinations, creative cocktails and dazzling desserts.
Former Morston Hall head chef Richard Bainbridge combines comfort food and haute cuisine at his simple yet smart neighbourhood bistro that celebrates Norfolk produce. There’s a healthy dose of nostalgia about dishes like ‘Nanny bush’s seasonal trifle’ – (a winning dish on BBC 2’s Great British Menu, 2015), a milk jam with puff pastry, thyme and bay leaf ice cream. The wine pairing with the six- or eight-course tasting menu is imaginative and may include an alpine cheese soup with garden herb tortellini. £18 for two courses, £22 for three courses.
Casual dining, special occasion
Farmyard’s neon-pink sign and striking blue-green frontage stand out on St Benedict’s Street, Norwich’s restaurant row. The interior of this bistro is just as arresting with a huge psychedelic mural and an open kitchen framed by a wall of enamelled white tiles. The menu highlights local produce, skillfully prepared in simple, seasonal dishes like foie gras and chicken and leek terrine. Mains starting from £13, two courses for £15 and three courses for £19.
Roger Hickman’s Restaurant is where Norwich comes to celebrate. Ask for a table on the spacious ground floor of the split-level dining room for a culinary tour de force that might include loin and confit leg of rabbit with Iberico ham, pea purée and potato, and that’s just for starters. A great value lunch menu means you don’t have to save this for a special occasion. Two courses, £21 and three courses, £26.
Working your way through barman Richard O’Brien’s list of original, complex (and strong) creations such as The Wolfpack made with tequila, kummel (caraway liqueur), grapefruit and orange sherbets, lime and smoked salt is like a Sherlock Holmes mystery. You don’t know how it’s going to end, but you know you’re going to have a lot of fun along the way. Cocktails £8.
Warwick Street Social
Casual dining, special occasion
Arrive early at this handsomely converted corner-site pub in Norwich’s upmarket ‘Golden Triangle’ neighbourhood for a well-made Aperol spritz in the buzzy ground-floor bar, then head upstairs for dishes such as crispy cod cheeks and smoked Gressingham duck breast with ginger, butternut swuash and roasted almonds. Mains from £12.
Woolf & Social
Casual dining, cheap eat
Don’t panic. What appears to be a line of ants crawling across a bowl of poached pear and goat’s cheese is, in fact… ants. Deep-fried until crunchy, earthy and zesty, try them with a pokey sloe gin and burnt orange negroni. If insects (including flying termites in season) aren’t your bag, go for the signature fried chicken with sriracha mayo. Small plates such as Muntjac loin with rocket and orange from £7.50
The Assembly House
Casual dining, special occasion, kid friendly
The Assembly House is a gorgeous Grade-I listed Georgian building overseen by local celebrity chef Richard Hughes. Just along from M&S in Norwich’s city centre, it serves a splendid afternoon tea. It was in fact a finalist for ‘best afternoon tea’ in the Norfolk food and drink awards 2017. Highlights include cheese, mustard and chive scones, Norfolk ham finger sandwiches and some stunning cakes and pastries. Afternoon tea £21.95 for one and £42.00 for two.
Casual dining, cheap eat
For some of the best Japanese food in the country, head to this contemporary Izayaka-style restaurant opposite the Cathedral. Here, you can watch the chefs preparing an array of sushi and sashimi, including cucumber and sesame temaki hand rolls and octopus nigiri. The ‘otsumami’ or sharing dishes include vegetarian options such as yasai age gyoza (deep-fried vegetable dumplings). Small plates from £3.
The Wine Press
Casual dining, special occasion
With its dark wood panelling and open fire, the private ‘snug’ at this 12th-century hotel located next to Norwich Cathedral is the perfect spot for a romantic dinner in historic surroundings. But there’s nothing antiquated about Gordon Ramsay-trained chef Marcin Pomierny’s food; scallops are paired with pig cheek, fennel salad, cauliflower and apple, and maple-braised brisket comes with hazelnuts and chickweed. Mains from £17.
The Iron House
Ask for a seat in the characterful double-height bar of this relaxed all-day restaurant with its exposed brick and beams and huge skylight, where you can look out on Norwich’s cobbled lanes and sip a glass of wine. This is also favoured spot for breakfast; try the Colombian eggs with avocado and tomato salsa. Mains from £14.95
Brittany-born owner Damien Cabanis will guide you through the selection of wines he imports directly from small Languedoc vineyards for his smart and cosy deli and wine bar, which he dispenses from a row of eco-friendly stainless steel canisters (doing away with the need for glass bottles); served with high-quality artisan French cheese and charcuterie. Platters from £8.50.
The Fig Bar
One of just a handful of dessert-only restaurants in the country, Fig Bar is the creation of Marcus Wareing-trained pastry chef Jamie Garbutt whose dazzlingly original, flavour-juggling creations include the ‘Ambrosia’ that combines blood orange poached rhubarb, lemon & camomile mousseline, coconut yogurt sorbet and tarragon merinuge. Desserts from £6.
Gin lovers should head to this smartly modernised 18th-century pub that has its own working distillery, visible from the bar. Their own Bullards gin, made with spicy, fruity tonka beans, is served alongside more that 50 other brands as well as more than 100 whiskys. Book early for the pub’s hugely popular distillery tours and tastings. Cocktails £8.
Request a seat on the heated terrace at Norwich’s only rooftop restaurant for the best views of the city and cathedral, accompanied by a glass or two of fizz. Head inside to the blingy dining room for the all-embracing menu that includes plates like sticky ginger and chilli tofu kebabs served with Asian noodles. Mains from £13.
The smallest pub in Norwich, rated by the Good Beer Guide for its selection of hand-pumped real ales, also serves some of the best Thai food in the city. Run by Thai-born landlady Aey Allen, the menu features authentic dishes such as larb – that’s a salad made with minced pork, chilli, toasted ground rice, lime and coriander. Mains from £11.95.
Grosvenor Fish Bar
Casual dining, cheap eat, kid friendly
They’ve been serving classic fish and chips here for nearly a century. Five years ago they decided to reinvent the traditional fish bar as a ‘grotto’ complete with Airstream caravan and a revitalised menu that includes spicy cod and salsa, Wako Tacos and a Loony Toony battered tuna steak roll with wasabi mayo. Large haddock or cod £6.50.
This vegan and vegetarian café in the city centre is rustic yet refined with lots of bare brick, artfully distressed period furniture and a row of arched leaded windows. Open all day, the evening à la carte draws on global influences for dishes such as Moroccan-spiced pulled jackfruit with hummus, pesto-baked chickpeas, pickled carrot salad, chermoula and toasted wholemeal pitta. Mains from £9.25.
This friendly pizzeria and bar, close to Norwich market, serves pizza made from scratch with Italian ingredients, topped with Italian and East Anglian produce and cooked in a wood-fired oven. Look out for the Emiliano made with mozzarella, Gorgonzola, porcini, rosemary and Norfolk ham. Pizza from £5.
It doesn’t get much more romantic than this ‘informal’ fine dining restaurant with its elegant white and grey colour scheme and glass chandeliers, hidden away on a cobbled side street in the city centre. Local produce features in dishes such as poached monk fish with tomato and capers and trout with aubergine and miso compote. (£31 for a two-course meal.)
5 foodies places to try
The deli in the gleaming new food hall at Norwich’s iconic department store has just been doubled in size and now includes a wine and tapas bar where you can sample the extensive range of East Anglian produce before you buy.
Norwich’s 900-year-old city centre market is the city’s go-to place for street food; try Cocina Mia’s Chilean empanadas filled with chicken, chorizo and sweet peppers.
Visit this smart, independent bakery for wicked, grilled breakfast toasties made with their own chia and linseed bread, Norfolk free-range ham and cheddar.
This hip coffee shop and wine bar is serious about caffeine, serving single-origin brews with expertise and care. They also host regular wine tasting events.
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