The Workshop, Norwich, restaurant review: A wide variety of dishes in this cool city spot
- Credit: Geraldine Scott
Perched on Earlham Road, The Workshop has a exterior which oozes cool.
It's not immediately obvious the cafe/bar serves food in the evening from the outside, but word in the city travels fast and I'd heard great things about the eatery.
You're not able to book at The Workshop - understandable as it gets extremely busy - but we were lucky enough to secure a little table for two downstairs on a Wednesday evening.
The visit started off on a awkward footing - because of it's casual nature it's not the kind of place where someone greets you when you walk in, but it also wasn't immediately clear whether you could just take a seat, where you ordered, or what the process was.
But that was soon fixed when we found our spot for the night and the waitresses were happy to help when asked.
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The Workshop serves tapas-style Mediterranean dishes, and we also saw pizzas being served to other tables. There's a strong preference for vegetarian dishes - which pleased my veggie friend who said she was usually forced to pick from just two options.
We opted for the tapas as we wanted to get the best spread, and after asking the waitress how many she'd recommend for two people - four dishes - we decided we were particularly hungry and went for six.
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First out were the hummus bi tahina, served with a herby topping (£3.50), taramasalata with pistachios, kol rhabbi, pickled peppers and olives (£6), and anchovies on toast (£6.50).
As a big hummus fan, the dish was smooth and served with plenty of bread. The herby topping gave it an extra depth and the pinenuts cut through what was overwise silky.
When I was a child taramasalata was a big treat I had when visiting my dad, so I always order it everywhere I go. You could say I'm a taramasalata connoisseur - and this one measured up. It could have been a little thicker but the additions really mad it come alive.
While the anchovies were marinated in a dressing which soaked into the toast provided beautifully.
Next came the grilled halloumi with fresh figs and a lemon and honey dressing (£7), baba ganoush with chargrilled vegetables (£7), and batatas harras - potatoes cooked in chill, garlic, and spices with coriander and yoghurt (£7).
The halloumi was perfectly cooked with a crunchy, crispy edge and spongey inside. The figs were a nice accompaniment which fell apart in your mouth.
The baba ganoush and batatas harras weren't to our taste, but there was not anything wrong with them - the potatoes were a little too spicy for us, while the baba ganoush was a little flat.
Sticking with a creative take on a dish, we tried a bilog for dessert - pistachio ice cream in a toasted brioche bun which we were told was a Filipino style treat. The crumbly brioche complemented the cold, sweet ice cream perfectly.
All in all a chilled night out in a venue we didn't feel pressured to leave any time soon.
Three dishes to try
1. Taramasalata with pistachios, kol rhabbi, pickled pepper, and black olives - served with bread (£6)
2. Grilled halloumi with fresh figs and a lemon and honey dressing (£7)
3. Marinated anchovies and toast (£6.50)
Value for money
There are not starters as such but a lot of small plates, ranging from £3.50 to £8.50.
No website but search Workshop Bar/Cafe on Facebook.
Quirky and cosy, clearly a local haunt for those who live in the area. A nice community feel with things like language exchange sign up sheets on the wall. Don't be surprised by the slightly adult decoration.
A credit to its popularity, The Workshop was full so had an exciting buzz.
Friendly, helpful, and non-judgemental when we ordered more food than was necessary for two people.
A good selection as a cafe/bar but also famed for their delicious hot chocolates.
Small steps at the entrance, small doors, and not much space inside might make it difficult for some.
Very basic and you have to go outside to get to them - chilly in the winter!
Permit parking around the area so not easy, but you might find a spot which has no restrictions after 6.30pm if you're lucky.
We paid £52 for six dishes, plus dessert and wine - pretty reasonable for the city centre and the quality.
For me, the taramasalata, it was creamy without being too fishy and the pistachios were a welcome addition.
I'm not quite sure I was cool enough for the Workshop, but the delicious food and welcoming staff would make me return.
If you like that, try these
1. Frank's Bar, Norwich - To stick with the vibe of a laid-back eatery, Frank's is perfect. Try the new tapas platter.
2. Cafe No. 33, Norwich - Like The Workshop, No. 33 is always packed to the rafters, and I'm yet to be let down by a meal there.
3. The Ship Inn, South Walsham - Nip 15 minutes out of the city for classics with creative spin.
This is an independent review.