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Gambas, Gorleston, restaurant review: ‘Beyond expectation’

PUBLISHED: 17:41 21 September 2017

The cockle popcorn and crispy whitebait arrived in unexpected fashion. Picture: Thomas Chapman

The cockle popcorn and crispy whitebait arrived in unexpected fashion. Picture: Thomas Chapman

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Gambas in Gorleston has developed a favourable reputation amongst local people.

The perfectly-cooked blackened salmon, with a lovely lime and coriander sauce and classic mashed potato was one of the highlights. Picture: Thomas Chapman The perfectly-cooked blackened salmon, with a lovely lime and coriander sauce and classic mashed potato was one of the highlights. Picture: Thomas Chapman

Food

To start we allowed our curiosity to get the better of us with the intriguing cockle popcorn, alongside the crispy whitebait and garlic king prawns and crayfish tails.

We were unsure what to expect with the popcorn, but one thing was for sure, we certainly hadn’t assumed it would arrive in a small shopping trolley.

Having been lightly-cooked in a delicious batter, the ‘popcorn’ was crisp and moreish. Accompanied by a sweet mango sauce which would elevate almost any dish, we quickly polished off the shopping and turned our attention to the whitebait.

The Hanging Kebabs, which is a firm favourite at Gambas. Picture: Thomas Chapman The Hanging Kebabs, which is a firm favourite at Gambas. Picture: Thomas Chapman

MORE: The Wallow, Norwich, restaurant review: ‘With cheese boards and wine machines I couldn’t have dreamt up a more perfect place’

Also arriving in its own personal trolley, the fish held its own and a more sizeable portion could have easily sufficed as a main course.

Elsewhere, the generous helping of prawns and crayfish, immersed in a flavoursome garlic sauce, left us wanting more.

Moving on, and I opted for the hanging kebabs - a favourite with Gambas regulars.

But could it live up to the hype? It could.

Gambas seafood and grill in Gorleston. Picture: Thomas Chapman Gambas seafood and grill in Gorleston. Picture: Thomas Chapman

The skewers – one chicken and one king prawn – were marinated in a blend of lemon, herbs and garlic, arriving impressively suspended from a metal frame, atop a serving of skinny fries. A piri piri sauce was on hand to give the succulent skewers a kick and, all in all, the kebabs had produced the goods.

Meanwhile, Tom resisted the advances of the rib-eye steak and went for the blackened salmon.

The salmon was cooked perfectly – not too slippery, not too chewy.

A lime and coriander sauce was a lovely addition to both the fish and a serving of good ol’ mashed potato.

A huge glass door in the front room opens up onto the street. Picture: Thomas Chapman A huge glass door in the front room opens up onto the street. Picture: Thomas Chapman

A shared dessert of brownie and ice cream was verging on romantic as our spoons clashed. It was certainly rich but also rather small, perhaps too small for those of us with a sweet tooth.

Gone quick as a flash, the meal’s final element was a fine way to conclude the meal.

Drink

A simple coke and a classic pint of Adnams were on the agenda for us, but there are a decent number of options on the wine list and they are priced reasonably.

MORE: Lust & Liquor, Norwich, restaurant review: ‘The place itself is inviting but the experience was subpar’

Ambience

Overall, Gambas was a pleasant place to be. An impressive bar in the form of an expertly-crafted log pile instantly catches the eye. The décor seemed a little random and lacking in identity in places, although the front room where we sat was pleasant, with a huge glass door that opens up on to the street. This was not the busiest night, but the murmurings of fellow diners and some strong music choices made for an enjoyable atmosphere.

Service

The members of staff were incredibly friendly and attentive, making us feel instantly welcome. Gambas was relatively quiet on this particular evening, but as opposed to waiting around idly, the waiting staff used their time to provide extra care for evening’s patrons.

Toilets

A trip to the lavatory is verging on being a tight squeeze, but the facilities are clean and the old-fashioned butler sinks are a really nice touch.

Parking

While street parking is extremely limited, there is a large car park located just a two minute walk away on Riverside Road, where diners can park for free.

Location

Gambas is somewhat hidden away and some of the nearby roads are relatively narrow, making the restaurant difficult to spot until you are almost on top of it.

Price

Having initially thought £14 for the hanging kebabs was steep, James was pleasantly surprised to find that, not only was the quality of the meal impressive, but the sheer quantity of food was beyond expectation. He ended up being unable to conquer the kebabs - not for the want of trying.

Highlight

If you’re looking for something quirky, go for the cockle popcorn in its own shopping trolley to start. We’d choose the blackened salmon for a main.

In summary

Gambas offer a friendly and relaxed environment, all the while providing stellar service and wonderful food. It’s versatile as well and would be equally suitable for romantic meals for two as it is a catch-up with friends. Eating there is an experience that we’ll remember and talk about; after all, what more can a restaurant do?

For more food reviews click here.

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