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Hot Rocks, Cromer, restaurant review: ‘Very enjoyable indeed’

Steak ciabatta. Picture: Hot Rocks

Steak ciabatta. Picture: Hot Rocks

Hot Rocks

Food

Chilli crab linguine from Hot Rocks. Picture: Hot Rocks. Chilli crab linguine from Hot Rocks. Picture: Hot Rocks.

I went to Hot Rocks in Cromer with my colleague Jess, where we arrived to find a ‘Light Lunch’ menu on our table.

It listed tasty morsels from a steak ciabatta to a chilli crab linguine.

But we weren’t there for something light - we meant business. And that meant trying something from the main menu, where we would be served our food on 440C hot stone plates to cook as we please.

Our Hot Rocks food. Picture: Eleanor Pringle Our Hot Rocks food. Picture: Eleanor Pringle

I chose the sirloin steak, which came with two sides, a choice of sauce (peppercorn, mushroom, red wine or blue cheese) and a butter (chilli, parsley or garlic.)

I chose a mushroom sauce and garlic butter, to go with sides of beer-battered onion rings and sweet potato fries.

Jess went for a salmon fillet, with garlic butter and marie rose sauce, with sides of fries and sautéed mushrooms.

The salmon fillet was the first to come out. The fish was of lovely quality, and very fresh.

Scones (fruit and Norfolk three-cheese) made homemade by Hot Rocks. Picture: Andreas Yiasimi. Scones (fruit and Norfolk three-cheese) made homemade by Hot Rocks. Picture: Andreas Yiasimi.

Jess’ sauteed mushrooms were also a hit with us both (I stole one), perfectly buttered without being slimey. Jess simply put it: “It’s difficult to make a bad mushroom, but it’s very difficult to make a good one.”

The chips were chunky and crisp, and could be dunked in one of the huge variety of condiments on offer.

My steak was one of the best I’ve had in years . Not because I was the one cooking it to my own taste, but because the meat was a good cut, with just the right amount of fat to make it tender but not gristly.

The onion rings may divide opinion in that they weren’t very oniony.

Personally I prefer this, as I hate gnawing through a thick string of onion.

The sweet potato fries were the place I expected the chef to fall as so often they’re either almost raw and slathered in oil, or they’re burned.

These were neither, even Jess who doesn’t usually like sweet potato fries said she enjoyed these.

Upon investigating the bottom of the bowl I also found no grease.

Hats off to them.

Drink

Given the fact we were reporters on a lunch break and not ladies at lunch, we both picked a soft drink.

However the drinks menu promised your standard fizzy offerings and orange juice.

Behind the bar was a range of spirits and craft beers, with a good wine selection priced at around £20.

Interior/atmosphere

The atmosphere was where this place fell a bit short.

One issue was the aggressively loud playlist. Don’t get me wrong I love the Spice Girls, but it wasn’t exactly relaxing.

I may also be doing them a disservice, but I didn’t see any signs of ventilation in a fairly small unit, where up to 40 covers will be cooking their dinner on burning slabs of rock.

Though I haven’t encountered the restaurant at peak times, I can imagine it gets a little... smokey.

Service

Our waitress did lose track of us between asking for our bill and getting up to pay it, which, given the fact we were the only table in there, was a little disconcerting.

I think a bit of staff swatting-up on meat cuts also wouldn’t go amiss, as when I asked how the steak cuts differed I was given: “That one’s a bit flatter, that’s a bit fatter,” and so on.

What I really wanted to know was which meat is more tender, how they differ in where they are sourced from the animal, and so on.

Another helpful tip would’ve been being told when the food came out that one meal would take a lot longer to cook when the other. If I’d known the salmon would take half as much time again to cook through, I would’ve taken my steak off the rock to give the salmon a head start.

Loos

The loos were as to be expected from the rest of the restaurant - clean, tidy and light.

Parking

West Runton car park.

Location

A couple of minutes from the beach- perfect for a fun night out with the family before a stroll along the seafront.

Price

It’s £16.95 for a sirloin steak and two sides, and a salmon fillet was £11. Soft drinks at £2.50 a head gives you very little to argue with. I was also pleased to see these prices given the fact that other hot rock meals I’ve had have been closer to the £30 a head mark, after sides are included. This is much better value for money, and for what in my opinion is a better meal.

Highlight

Jess’ marie rose sauce, and my steak. (Not to be eaten together.)

In summary

I can forgive them the lapses in service as they’ve only been open for a month, and as time goes on the staff will get to know their products better.

Simple menu, well executed, with a fun element of DIY. Very enjoyable indeed.

This is an independent review.

MORE: Food reviews from the Eastern Daily Press team.

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