Middletons, Norwich, restaurant review: Sophisticated with a relaxing charm
- Credit: Steve adams
Whether you're feasting on a towering burger or chowing down on a stack of ribs, it's clear the meat market is overcrowded, so to stand out your humble steakhouse has to have something special. Geraldine Scott finds out whether Middletons makes the grade.
At just seven years old, the Middletons brand has made quite an impact in Norfolk and further afield. But the small chain - which has seven restaurants in total - still manages to maintain the appearance of being an upmarket independent.
The restaurant we visited was in Timberhill, Norwich, where the clean lines and muted decor complemented the streets historic vibe.
And as the steakhouse and grill serves meat exclusively from their own butchery, in Middleton, Norfolk, my friend Lauren and I looked forward to a treat.
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The menu is extensive, and did feel like it offered something for everyone with a lot of choice - regardless we both chose the same starter, the chicken liver pâté served with a pickled relish and warm sourdough.
The pâté was smooth and complemented the distinctive tang of the sourdough well. I felt the relish was unnecessary but that's more of a personal preference.
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My only point to make here - and as an avid pâté eater would make for all restaurants serving the dish - is that more bread was needed. While I'm not adverse to eating pâté on its own it's not really the done thing and if I was in more polite company rather than a good friend I would not have finished the starter.
For our next course - purely in the interests of trying the different options Middletons had to offer, Lauren chose the sea bass with lemon and parsley, which she described as 'delicate and well-cooked'.
For me, as Middletons prides itself on its meat, I opted for a 8oz sirloin with piri piri king prawn skewers. I like my steak cooked medium, and it was no surprise the chefs got this bang on.
Both of our meals were served with chips which were light and fluffy, with the perfect crispy skin.
Overall, the food was simple - but effective. The dishes were not dressed up as anything they were not, and were not fussy or overly complicated.
But that's not to say the food was not delicious - it was - and a testament to less is more when high quality ingredients are involved.
Neither of us had enough room left for dessert, but the selection was appetising, although just five dishes were on offer. However, when the business' focus was so clearly on steaks and grills, that is no surprise.
A pretty extensive wine list, as well as cocktails and the expected soft drinks. A nice touch were the mocktails, which meant you could have something a little different without alcohol. We each opted for a glass of wine, recommended by our waiter.
Interior / atmosphere
Smart and stylish, the space is vast but is filled well and separated to make it feel more intimate. The gallery upstairs makes the building feel more grand but there is still a relaxed feel to the dining.
Very friendly, knowledgeable about the wine without trying to flog us the most expensive option.
Clean, tidy, as expected.
Being in the city centre there isn't any but it's a short walk from Castle Mall, or easily reached by public transport.
This branch is located in Norwich's historic Timberhill, smack bang in the city centre. But there are other sites in King's Lynn, Peterborough, Leicester, Watford, Colchester, and Milton Keynes.
Not super cheap but not unreasonable either, our bill came to £53 for starters, mains and wine. Of course if you want to splash our - say on an 18oz chateaubriand - it will set you back £49.95. But it's also possible to get an impressive three courses for just £9.95 from noon to 6pm, Monday to Saturday.
The best bit about the experience was the relaxed atmosphere, which managed to make you feel like you were splashing out a bit while remaining comfortable.
It's easy in a city full of brilliant independent restaurants to dismiss chains, but Middletons is Norfolk born and bred, and has not lost the connection to its roots. The sophistication combined with the chilled out atmosphere means it can be a treat any night of the week.
Three dishes you must try
We only had three dishes this time around but having eaten here before I'd also recommend the creamy garlic mushrooms, the classic mixed grill, or if you're feeling fancy the lobster.
Value for money
In main courses prices range from £8.55 for a 5oz mushroom burger, to £49.95 for either a 36oz rib-eye on the bone or an 18oz chateaubriand (both suitable for sharing).
If you like that, try this
• Described by another reviewer as the best steak she had ever eaten, The Edith Cavell in Norwich is worth a try for meat lovers.
• The Copper Smokehouse in Oulton Broad is another must-try for those fans of all things carnivore.
• Orford Flat Iron is one to watch as one of the city's newest steakhouses, our reviewer felt it didn't quite hit the spot when he visited in December, but it is early days.
For more food reviews, click here.This is an independent review.