REVIEW: Gem of Norwich: Delightful Mediterranean food with a big September money saving offer
PUBLISHED: 13:42 26 September 2020 | UPDATED: 14:21 26 September 2020
You can save up to £10 per person until the end of September at this great Norwich restaurant
Indulgent food trips in my younger years to Cyprus and Turkey have given me a long-standing love of Mediterranean cuisine so when Gem of Norwich opened their doors on Norwich’s Thorpe Road I was keen to see what they had to offer.
I’d planned to go many times since it opened just under a year ago, but with a sizzling offer currently on until Wednesday, September 30, it had to be now.
They’ve extended Eat Out to Help Out and are offering 50% off per person (up to a maximum of £10) on main dishes before 6pm.
Situated in the building that recently housed Prezzo opposite the railway station, Gem of Norwich styles itself as serving dishes from the eastern Med inspired by Turkish and Kurdish cuisines.
Essentially this means a menu heavy on chicken and lamb dishes, plenty of tomato, garlic and yoghurt and some lovely gentle and not-so-gentle spices in their dishes.
It’s actually a small chain, with the Norwich branch the fifth across the country and inside it’s light and airy with socially-distanced tables, hand sanitizer on the tables, staff in masks and a slick colour scheme mainly of teal and gold.
Those rich colours were a nice backdrop to the lovely food on offer across a large menu that may leave you a little spoilt for choice.
For those that don’t know, mezze are small dishes, similar to tapas, that are a common part of Mediterranean cuisine and at Gem, there are plenty to chose from. The cold mezzes are all £4.90 each and include hummus, tabule, taramasalata and smoked aubergine dip, while the hot mezzes (most around £6) include things like chicken kofte, halloumi, lamb’s liver and calamari. Veggies need not fear for there are plenty of meat-free options and you can get a good deal by having six hot mezzes selected by the chef for £17 for two.
My eyes (and those of my wife) were drawn to the Gem Grills section, where all dishes are cooked on hot charcoal and top of the list was the Mixed Barbecue (£16.90). I’m not a huge fan of roast lamb but my memories of eating in Turkey and Cyprus were of lovely smoky lamb kleftiko with juicy meat falling off he bone so the chance to have a dish that featured lamb shish, lamb cutlet, chicken shish and adana was too good to pass.
It came with a bowl of rice flavoured with sweetcorn and red pepper and a small bowl of salad. The chicken was juicy and tender, the lamb shish was very fatty and almost inedible, but it was soon forgotten when I made quick work of the lamb cutlet before tucking into the star of the show - the adana. It’s a mix of minced lamb, onion, parsley and paprika rolled into a sausage shape and cooked on a skewer and boy was it tasty. Not at all hot, but with flavours that did remind me of sitting in a park in Istanbul many years ago. I stuffed half into a pitta bread (£2.50) with a bit of salad and enjoyed every mouthful which I washed down with a pint of Cobra (£5.45).
Across the table my wife just went for the chicken combo (£12.50) which was similar to my dish - chicken shish, chicken beyti, which was spiced and cooked with garlic and a chicken thigh which was marinated in lemon and oregano.
All the meat across both dishes was tender, apart from my not-that-great bit of lamb and although it looked a lot of food at first wasn’t overly filling.
Apart from what we ordered, there are lots of other chicken and lamb choices, a couple of pork dishes using free range Norfolk pork and specials including mousakka, lamb stifado and seafood including octopus, calamari and sea bass.
Gem do a small dessert menu with five options - the three we didn’t choose were sutlac (rice pudding), ice cream and baklava.
I had sobiyet (£4.95) which are small parcels of filo pastry stuffed with pistachios and served with ice cream covered in a caramel sauce which was really good - light and airy but with a delightful nutty crunch.
Across the table, homemade chocolate brownie (£4.95) was being devoured and again, it was a perfectly proportioned dish. I’ve been to plenty of restaurants that charge maybe £8 for a small dessert when there’s no need to go over a fiver, so well done to Gem for keeping their dessert prices realistic.
In the old Prezzo building close to Norwich rail station, just a short walk from the city centre. It’s a beautiful building, just a shame the views out of the window aren’t great and it does feel a little odd when a double decker bus stops outside and you can see passengers looking in. But the location is what it is and inside it’s very swish with gold decor adding a touch of glam to your dining backdrop.
You may also want to watch:
Very attentive and very fast, we were eating our main mean within 15 minutes of walking in. With dishes mainly cooked over charcoal, it doesn’t take long for the food to cook, so we were in and out within 75 minutes.
Huge menu - Cobra and Carling on draught, lots of bottled beers including Turkish favourite Efes, loads of wine, spirits and soft drinks. You can have everything from a cocktail to a hot chocolate. Mrs R had an orange juice (£2.20) and a latte (£2.70) with her dessert.
We sat on the ground floor but there is upstairs seating too and that’s where the toilets are. No issues with getting in for anyone in a wheelchair or with a pushchair.
Clean, tidy and well-stocked.
Rose Lane, Riverside or the station are all five minutes away, though you could probably park at Morrisons or outside H&M and walk over for free. It was only a 15 minute walk from my house so parking wasn’t an issue for me. Gem’s location is perfect for rail or bus users coming from outside the city.
Price/Value for money
The food isn’t expensive, in my view. Our meal came to £52.25 for two mains, two desserts, three drinks and one pitta. That was fair enough, but with the incredible money-saving offer we saved £10 each taking it down to £32.25. We joked that had we just ordered tap water and not had a dessert, we would have paid £11 which is crazy. There’s no rules against it, if eating as cheap as you can is on your agenda
For more information and to book a table, click here
Disclaimer: Our food reviews are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on their experience of the venue when they visited. The establishment is not aware of our visit, is not informed we intend to write a review and bills are paid by the reviewer. The choice of places reviewed is also independent and is not based on venues which do or do not advertise in our publications.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box above for details.