The Earlham Arms, Norwich, restaurant review: ‘Tasty tapas and hearty comfort food which is suited to any diet’
- Credit: Archant
Popular city spot serves up comfort food with a trendy twist.
To start we opted for the tapas menu, which had a huge choice of over 20 dishes, and ordered fried halloumi sticks, spiced sweet potato wedges with tzatziki, Thai crab cakes with sweet chilli and garlic bread with mozzarella served on slates. The garlic bread came like pizza slices and was indulgent and gooey and the halloumi pieces were crispy nuggets with a squidgy inside. The crab cakes packed a punch of spice but I found them a little dry on their own, however dipped in the sweet chilli dip they were fine. The sweet potato wedges were well-seasoned but could have done with being a bit crispier.
For our main we both opted for the fish – I usually find this a good mark of quality for a restaurant. I opted for the herb crusted roast salmon with prawn and dill butter sauce, green vegetables and crushed new potatoes which were all gluten free. The salmon was hugged with delicious herbs with perfect flakiness and was swimming in a delicious citric sauce with finely chopped dill and moreish prawns which was light without being watery.
The crushed new potatoes were somewhere between dauphinois and mash and neatly served in a circle and the vegetables were soft and buttery without being overcooked. However, I felt the dish didn't really work on a rectangular plate and the fish should have been served on top of the potatoes with the sauce poured over to really make the dish sing together.
My mum chose the ale battered fish of the day, which was haddock, and it was served with minted crushed peas, rustic chips and homemade tartare sauce. The fish was lightly battered and the skin-on fries were crispy and well-seasoned – the chefs at the Earlham Arms are spot on with their spices. The ramekin of peas was tiny compared to the huge portion of prickly lettuce used as garnish and I wasn't quite sure why it was used as it didn't add anything to the dish.
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For dessert we shared a baked banoffee cheesecake with caramel sauce and vanilla cream. The cheesecake was good, old-fashioned comfort food with fresh, sweet bananas and the caramel was nicely balanced on a bed of vanilla cream.
An impressive selection of drinks was on offer including local real ales, stored in the restaurant's tap room, and cocktail menu which includes the Earlham Breeze. My mum had a glass of Pinot Grigio and I ordered elderflower cordial with lemonade, however I think there was some confusion as they just bought me out lemonade. It would have been good to see the drink prices on the website before going.
The restaurant has a chilled, social vibe to suit every occasion with a large beer garden, restaurant area and high tables and sofas near the bar if you just fancy a drink. You can also bring dogs into the restaurant although I can imagine this could get annoying if a dog was barking whilst you were trying to enjoy a quiet meal.
Our waiter George was polite and attentive, without being intrusive, and the food arrived in good time without feeling like you were being rushed. He was also really helpful when my mum accidentally knocked some of her peas on the floor and quickly cleared it up and offered to get her some more.
The toilets were clean and the soap was in Disaronno bottles which was a nice touch. I particularly liked the basket by the sink which had hairspray inside for customers to use for free.
The restaurant has its own car park with plenty of free spaces even at evenings and weekends.
The Earlham Road restaurant is opposite the stunning Plantation Gardens and a short walk into the city so ideal if you want to carry on the night in Norwich after the meal. It's also conveniently located on the 26 bus route and a few minutes' walk from the Gladstone Street bus stop.
The mains vary between £12.95 for risotto of the day and £17.75 for Moroccan spiced lamb cutlets which is at the pricier end for Norwich. However, the classic menu offers cheaper options and the pie of the day with mash and seasonal vegetables is under a tenner. The glass of Pinot Grigio was expensive at £6.25 seeing as you could probably buy a bottle for that price in a supermarket.
Definitely the tapas – the fried halloumi sticks were heavenly. There is so much choice on the tapas menu and its ideal for a relaxed evening catching up with friends.
Tasty tapas and hearty comfort food which is suited to any diet with a range of vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options.
This is an independent review.