E Street Smokehouse, Norwich, restaurant review: ‘A place of this calibre has been missing for a while’
PUBLISHED: 10:36 30 August 2017 | UPDATED: 10:57 30 August 2017
Will the new E Street Smokehouse live up to the hype?
Long gone is the Drayyard Smokehouse, and you guessed it, in its place is another – the E Street Smokehouse.
I was never that impressed by the Drayyard and despite it’s replacement being run by those in charge of the Last Wine Bar and Blue Joanna Bar and Kitchen, two excellent establishments, I headed in with the doom and gloom of re-visiting a place that already left a bad taste in my mouth a year or so previous.
When we walked through the doors at 7pm on a Saturday night it was all but empty – never a good sign, and I was resigned to a having a mediocre evening. Now, you can ask my boyfriend Dom, I’m not one to admit to being wrong, but this time I was, the food was exceptional - and by the time we left there wasn’t a table free in the whole place.
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Once we had ordered we were given a small complimentary bowl of crackling to nibble on, which was a nice extra treat.
For starters we enjoyed the smoked pork croquettes with apple ketchup. They were akin to sweet and sour pork bowls that you’d get from a Chinese takeaway. The pork was smokey perfection, set off by the tangy apple ketchup, of which there could’ve been more. Dom gave them an eight out of 10 which you’ll know if you’ve previously read my reviews is pretty high praise. Secondly, we had the cauliflower with buffalo sauce and sour cream. Their coating was greasy, indulgent and very spicy. I love vegetarian dishes like this - satisfying and delectable - but still vegetables!
As always, I had read the menu online ahead of time, and was looking forward to the grilled aubergine with miso. I was slightly distressed when it was not on the menu, amongst a few other things, but the E Street Smokehouse redeemed itself with the panko crusted goats’ cheese with olive tapenade, red onion confit and grilled mushroom burger, from the specials board. I kid you not it was a round of goats’ cheese baked in a panko crumb in a bun– a cheese lovers dream. It was just a burger of cheese!
Having had a fair few veggie burgers in my time - I literally had one the night before -I thought this was very inventive, I’d never come across anything like it before. The whole thing was indulgent and the generous addition of olive tapenade made the whole thing pop. The red onion confit was umami in flavour and cut through the goats’ cheese.
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Dom went for the barbeque monkfish with coal roasted leeks & sweetcorn purée. The dish was beautifully presented and the fish truly melted in the mouth. It was soft, succulent and meaty, bursting with flavour. The leek was a little tough, but I think that was the fault of seasonality. It did require a side dish to fill it out a little and Dom choose fries, which tasted like naughty fast food.
We shared a dessert of grilled pineapple with rum syrup & ginger ice cream, a very small portion but enough for us. The ice cream was not at all gingery, but nonetheless combined with the pineapple and syrup was tart and sweet.
They have a large drinks selection, Dom had an Ease Up IPA and I enjoyed a glass of the St Felix Sauvignon Blanc. I ordered a 250ml glass for £6.50 but it arrived in a small carafe, which definitely made it seem like more and for the quantity and quality of taste it was definitely excellent value and Dom was definitely jealous.
As mentioned, at first the place was quiet but once it got going, it was bustling with the atmosphere of a Saturday night. It felt casual but also had an air of celebration and romance in the air – filled with families out for special meals and couples. The interior is much fresher, lighter and cooler than it was.
The toilets are straight down the stairs. One cubicle for men and the other for women, the sinks are open and shared between genders.
Midway down Exchange Street, St Andrew’s multi-storey can be seen from the bottom of the road and would be less than a five-minute walk, as would Duke Street.
E Street Smokehouse is in the centre of Norwich. Easily accessible and close to many bars, it’s situated in an area full of fabulous restaurants but is clearly holding its own.
On the service this place is very good value for money, although I would say there is some discrepancy in the pricing. The monkfish was £12 and a pretty small portion meaning that a side was required, all of which start at £3. Whereas the panko goats’ cheese burger was also £12 but came with a giant helping of fries.
For me, it has to be trying somewhere a little different. While smokehouses aren’t exactly rare, a place of this calibre with innovative dishes has been missing from Norwich for a while.
The food was extremely well done, thoroughly enjoyable and the service was excellent - it’s probably not going to be a favourite but that’s personal preference, Dom on the other hand was a big fan and I think he’s itching to return.
This is an independent review.
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