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Restaurant review: ‘One of the most family-friendly places to eat in Norwich’

PUBLISHED: 19:00 20 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:28 21 February 2020

The Stables at the Royal Norwich  Picture: Shorthose Russell

The Stables at the Royal Norwich Picture: Shorthose Russell

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Handmade pizzas and ice cream, huge Sunday roasts and interesting small plate dishes form the menu at this restaurant close to Roarr Dinosaur Adventure.

The Yard Grazing Table  Picture: Charlotte Smith-JarvisThe Yard Grazing Table Picture: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

Food

There's a sense of ceremony as you travel the private drive on the Weston Estate to the Royal Norwich's swanky new location.

Hidden by trees and surrounded by meticulously-kept, undulating greens, The Stables clubhouse is part of a £15m investment made by the golf club last year, with the restaurant flinging open its doors in November.

And what a beautiful job they've done of merging an L-shaped existing property with modern additions.

The shortrib nuggets  Picture: Charlotte Smith-JarvisThe shortrib nuggets Picture: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

Arriving on the coat tails of Storm Dennis on Sunday, I was instantly wowed as the automatic doors opened for me.

Sunshine floods the open-plan extension, boasting an intimate micro-brewery complete with private dining table, The Postman's Office (a nod to one of the club's most prolific players), an open-kitchen, huge bar, and elegant dining room with sliding doors to the grounds, soft lighting and even potted trees.

Beyond, the space seamlessly leads to a members' lounge, soon-to-be family room (by April it will have its own fenced off outdoor play area), the wood-panelled, fire-lit Colman room (a private dining space named for a founding member of the club), and, upstairs, a conferencing suite with all the bells and whistles.

To put it bluntly. This place is impressive.

Sunday lunch at The Stables  Picture: Charlotte Smith-JarvisSunday lunch at The Stables Picture: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

Anyway, onto the food. I love how head chef Shane Clements has really 'gone for it'. Everything, from breads to ice creams, is made on site, and the menu sings of provenance and seasonality.

After breakfast, the all-day offering ranges from homebaked pizza, to small plates and larger meals, while Sunday showcases the best of what the local butcher has to offer - with Sunday lunch priced at £15 for one course, £20 for two or £25 for three.

With my family in tow (hubby, teen and almost-teen) I was keen to see how family-friendly the club really was, ordering from the all-day, Sunday and children's menus. As the tables around us filled up with other families - it's clear word has got out!

To begin, the kitchen's own baked bread, accompanied by locally made wholewheat and white, served with luscious Norton Farm butter, Pepperdews (which I can take or leave) and luxurious Yare Valley truffle infused rapeseed oil.

Inside The Stables at the Royal Norwich  Picture: Shorthose RussellInside The Stables at the Royal Norwich Picture: Shorthose Russell

Breads (£6) were expertly made. A bouncy, Japanese-style, almost brioche-like saffron and poppyseed variety. An intriguingly coloured charcoal loaf which elicited 'oohs' from the intrigued kids. And a gently sweet, crisp crusted beetroot and spelt bread. Their quality definitely elevated our expectations for the meal to come.

Next, a platter of melting, crispy coated shortrib nuggets (£8), the fat within rendered into oblivion, leaving just tender meat and the distilled essence of beef. With a barbecue sauce-alike, tangy green tomato ketchup, this was a crowd pleaser all-round.

Venison 'from the estate' carpaccio (£9) was equally melt-in-the-mouth, the gamey essence of the meat perfectly complemented by a juniper, peppercorn and herb crush, and piquant artichokes and horseradish cream cheese, with a final flourish of shaved truffle and that magnificent truffle oil again.

My leek veloute (part of Sunday's set menu) was spot-on. Silky smooth, with a lingering hint of tarragon, and served with more of that excellent bread, plus a plump, crunchy little beignet of tarragon and peas.

The aged beef burger with bacon, Raclette cheese and truffle mayo at The Stables  Picture: Emma Chapman PhotographyThe aged beef burger with bacon, Raclette cheese and truffle mayo at The Stables Picture: Emma Chapman Photography

In hindsight, we shouldn't have ordered the Yard Grazing Platter (£14) because it easily would have fed two, three, maybe even four people. Visually it was feast. A tumble of cheeses, pickles, breads, cured meats and more. I've lost track of what was actually on there but it definitely included: smoked salmon, chorizo, Italian cured ham, manchego, Baron Bigod cheese, chutney, remoulade, olives, salad, pickled candy beets, gherkins....and more besides. We had to bring the leftovers home in a box!

We entered the main courses already full to the brim. Ella greedily tucked into a 'small plate' of baked prawns with chilli, butter and garlic (£10). She's a bit of a seafood fiend and made light work of the substantial bowl, which didn't skimp on butter, and was seasoned very well. The prawns were plump, tender and packed with flavour.

Ethan selected the homemade Southern fried chicken fillets and fries from the children's menu and declared them the best he's ever had. "100 times better than KFC!"

Mr Jarvis' burger (£16) with fries, was mountainous and practically perfect in every way. You could taste the aging in the beef patty, which had a real depth of flavour. This wasn't overpowered by the toppings of bacon, Raclette cheese, and earthy truffle mayo. He gave it 10/10.

I could barely make a dent in my treacle and black pepper rubbed roast sirloin of beef, and as I write this I'm cursing myself for not bringing it home in a doggy bag.

The beef was thick cut and blushing a pale pink but cooked to a point that I feel would be acceptable for most diners. It was bathed in a pool of flavoursome gravy (I didn't have to do the usual and ask for another jug) and accompanied by sweet roasted carrots, tenderstem broccoli, a huge, buttery soft fondant potato, roasted onion and Yorkshire pud. On the side...a bubbling dish of gratinated cauliflower cheese which I wanted to dive face first into!

We were groaning with fullness by the time dessert came around but in the interests of journalistic integrity ordered a couple of puds. A 'little bit' of homemade ice cream (£6.50), which was anything but small. Each was lusciously creamy. My favourite had to be the strawberry which brought out the very essence of the berry and had me dreaming of summer.

On the other side of the table, the restaurant's take on a Black Forest gateau (part of the set lunch). A chocolate box filled with Kirsch cream and juicy cherries, accompanied by biscuity crumble and a thick chocolate mousse. Just divine.

This is miles apart from what you'd expect to find at many of the UK's golf clubs.

Drink

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We sampled the on site brewery's 1893 IPA which was not dissimilar to Adnams Mosaic. It's incredibly heady with passionfruit and guava on the nose, which follows into the smooth initial taste, leading to a pleasant malty bitter finish.

I was intrigued to try the sauvignon blanc from award-winning Babu's Vineyard up the road from the golf club. It was so good I immediately jumped online to see where I could get my mitts on a bottle. Ripe, juicy and soft, it was less heavy on gooseberry than, say, its New Zealand counterpart, being more buttery and luscious. Very easy drinking. Conquistador Merlot with the beef was jammy and smoky on the nose, being off-dry on tasting with tobacco, liquorice and a hint of black pepper.

Service

The staff were very pleasant and knowledgeable about the product, able to talk more about the suppliers/provenance of ingredients. They seemed proud to work there.

Ambiance

It was busy, without being thronging, which gave a pleasant hum to the dining area. Really bright, comfortable and chilled with no airs and graces.

Parking

There's loads to the front of the building - and there's a drop off point for the less able.

Accessibility

The floor space is wide, with capacious corridors and a good distance between tables. Easily navigated by buggy or wheelchair.

Highlight

The roast beef was stunning, but we were all talking about the grazing table on the way out. It was a cornucopia of yummy things.

Summary

Whether you're a foodie, a golfer, or a family looking for an easy-to-get-to lunch option just outside Norwich city centre, you cannot go wrong. Note that Roarr Dinosaur Adventure is a short walk from The Stables - so you could combine a day out with breakfast or lunch here.High quality food, cooked and served by people who care.

Charlotte was a guest of The Stables. But all our reviews are independent and written honestly, without external influence.


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