Norwich restaurant and wine bar opens new French-style brasserie
PUBLISHED: 17:09 03 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:10 03 September 2019
Chef at The Last has created a new small plates menu to celebrate the opening.
One of Norwich's longest established restaurants has opened a Parisian-style all-day brasserie - complete with street-side outside seating.
The Last Wine Bar has opened the Last Brasserie after a month-long refurbishment of its ground floor restaurant - one of three spaces which make up the St George's Street eatery.
The opening coincides with a new small plates menu created by head chef Iain McCarten, to complement the existing a la carte menu.
After 29 years under the ownership of founder James Sawrey-Cookson, The Last was bought earlier this year by a quartet of investors, all of them longstanding customers of the wine bar. When they took over they pledged to invest in improvements to the much-loved Norwich institution, and the brasserie is the first part of this process of renewal.
"Aside from a general spruce-up, we were never going to change the bar area, which is at the heart of what The Last is," said Lynda Baxter, one of the four new owners. "But we felt that the ground floor restaurant space had real potential, and that a French-style brasserie would fit well with the overall feel and concept of The Last."
The brasserie will be open from 9am every day (except Sunday, when the Last is closed), and will remain open all day until 12.30am. In the mornings, tea, coffee and pastries will be available, lunch is served from 12noon to 3pm, during the afternoons there will be a choice of teas, coffees and drinks, with cakes available, and dinner is served from 6pm.
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To mark the new brasserie, The Last's head chef Iain McCarten has created a new small plates menu, with eight different tapas-style dishes available at any one time. Examples include courgette flowers stuffed with Norfolk White Lady goat's cheese with truffle honey; smoked mackerel with roasted and lightly pickled beetroot and horseradish crème fraîche; and a sourdough doughnut stuffed with white crab meat, accompanied by a herb, cucumber, fruit and brown crab mayonnaise.
"Iain has designed the new menu to have a wide appeal, with five of the first set of dishes being meat-free - and three of those are vegan," said Ms Baxter. "There is still plenty on the menu for carnivores, including the steaks for which The Last is rightly famous, but we are making a real effort to appeal to everybody."
Local provenance plays an important part in the menu, as does a commitment to reducing kitchen waste. For example, vegetable trimmings are sent back to the farm from where the vegetables came, to be used as compost, rather than being thrown in the bin.
Meanwhile the coffee being served in the new brasserie is roasted in Rackheath by Green Farm Coffee, while the tea is from Norwich specialists Wilkinsons.
The look of the new brasserie is radically different from the more formal ambience of what was there before, with a welcoming, contemporary feel, which has been designed by Ms Baxter, who is herself an artist.
"We wanted to create a space which was comfortable, modern and French in feel, somewhere where people would want to linger, whether over a cup of coffee and a newspaper in the morning, over drinks with friends, or working with their laptop," she said.
"We have taken inspiration from the Last's ever-popular bar, pulling across colour motifs and design cues. We hope that those who love The Last will find the look of the new brasserie familiar."
That contemporary feel has been carried across into a subtle new branding for The Last, the first time it has changed in nearly three decades. It is also reflected in a new exterior paint job, in a smart grey colour.
Alongside the new brasserie is a street-side terrace with eight tables for diners and drinkers, permission for which was granted by Norwich City Council in July.