What to eat on Norwich's most foodie street
- Credit: Louisa Baldwin
With a growing number of cafes, pubs and restaurants, St Benedicts Street is rapidly becoming the number one destination in Norwich for food and drink lovers.
Richard Bainbridge opened Benedicts six years ago and says that the change in the area has been dramatic.
“With such variety of restaurants, bars and places to eat and drink it’s really exciting.
“The buzz on a Friday and Saturday up and down our street is fantastic – something I couldn’t even imagine six years ago, when we opened the restaurant.
“When it comes to my favourite places on the street there are just too many to list nowadays, but I do love Haggle for a night out with great cocktails and delicious food and Sahara for a cup of coffee – they have just exploded over lockdown and are getting busier and busier.
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“The Plough for a pint is a real staple and their sausage rolls are something to die for – and there’s a great big garden to boot, which is fantastic for the city centre.
“And obviously for somewhere to go on a date night with my wife, it’s Benedict’s all day long,” he laughs.
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Whether you’re looking for a casual brunch or it’s an occasion for really pushing the boat out you'll find it on St Benedicts Street
The Ten Bells
A popular pub for many years, The Ten Bells has been ringing the changes recently with the addition of a barbecue tapas restaurant – and it has become something of a foodie hotspot.
It’s run by couple Frances Chisholm and Pete Harvey, also of The Wildman in Bedford Street, who took over and transformed the former Bullards gin distillery and bar and installed an Argentinian-style Solus Grill – and a brilliantly cheeky mural of Delia Smith.
The Ten Bells is in a prime spot right opposite Norwich Arts Centre, which makes it the perfect place to meet up with friends for some plates and cocktails before a gig.
So, what’s the pick of the menu? Reviewer Louisa Baldwin visited recently and their table ordered barbecue cauliflower wings, Korean chilli chicken wings, salt and pepper prawns, Boston butt fries, chilli nachos and a chilli dog.
It’s £15 for three small plates, or they’re £6.50 if ordered individually – and they don’t skimp on portion size.
According to Louisa, the star of the show was the chicken wings: “A sticky pyramid with tender meat and punchy flavour from the gochujang, sprinkled with sesame seeds.”
The cauliflower wings, which were drizzled with a “moreish” barbecue marinade were also a hit.
When it comes to desserts, there’s a choice of s’mores, ice cream and sorbet and there’s an extensive cocktail menu – the Elderflower Collins and Rhubumber come recommended.
AA inspectors credit Benedicts with firmly establishing Norwich on the UK food map.
Each year the AA awards its coveted Rosettes to restaurants which have impressed inspectors with their culinary excellence.
Out of the tens of thousands of restaurants in the country, only 2,000 make the list on a sliding scale of one to five Rosettes.
Benedicts is one of two restaurants in the city to hold three AA Rosettes and in their latest report, inspectors had nothing but praise for chef-patron Richard Bainbridge’s “exciting 21st century food” and the restaurant’s “pared back Scandi-chic look”.
“Our signature dish that people come for time and time again is our rice crackers with salmon caviar, burnt onion powder and our legendary sherry mousse,” says Richard.
“And also Nanny Bush’s trifle that won the Great British Menu on the BBC many moons ago.”
Farmyard’s chef-patron Andrew Jones has worked for Michelin-starred chefs including Richard Corrigan and Claude Bosi and since returning to his home county of Norfolk has made his mark on the food scene.
He describes his style of cooking as ‘bistroronomy’ - top quality produce and vibrant flavours served up in a relaxed, bistro-style environment.
Everything is prepared from scratch in Farmyard’s open kitchen, right down to the butter, and cooking meat, fish and vegetables over charcoal creates flavours with real depth.
Here the menu is led by flavours, not style, so you know what ingredients you’re getting, but not how they’ll be presented, so there’s an element of surprise.
With inventive combinations such as Cornish cod, chanterelles, hazelnut and agretti or the Farmyard chocolate bar: Columbian 65%, miso caramel, peanuts and milk sorbet on the menu, the kitchen at Farmyard is clearly a creative place to be.
Don Pepe was a fixture on Norwich’s dining scene for more than 30 years. So, when its owners retired it was great news that the building’s new residents would continue to bring a taste of Spain to the city.
The restaurant, which has a bespoke grill called Fat Elvis, offers a choice of tapas dishes, cheese and charcuterie, and there is a cold cabinet offering dry-aged sirloin or Txuleton rib cuts of Galician Blond steak, which are priced up by weight.
On a recent visit, reviewer Sabrina Johnson tried the Iberico pork secreto – so-called because butchers used to keep the cut back for themselves.
“I can see why,” said Sabrina. “The pork was melt in the mouth tender and almost buttery in its richness.”
She also tried the butterflied red mullet (“beautifully cooked...it had a lovely smokiness to it”) and the patatas bravas.
And for dessert the Pantxineta – an almond puff pastry tart with a set white custard filling was the star turn.
“If you like toasted almonds, orange and custard, you’ll like this,” said Sabrina. “I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the description, but what came was a light pastry tart filled with a firm custard, which was unlike anything I’ve had before and quite different to vanilla British custard or crème patisserie.”
As an aperitif, the sherry, described as “like raisin flavoured honey” comes recommended.
Perhaps Norwich’s most opulent dining destination, Middle Eastern restaurant Haggle is a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds.
The menu here is vast and the flavours are big and aromatic.
Choose some hot and cold mezze dishes and flat breads to share if you’re feeling sociable – honey and garlic chicken wings, halloumi, humus, falafel. And for a real savoury hit the sigara boregi - rolled yufka pastry with feta and parsley - come highly recommended.
The pide – a Turkish take on pizza featuring different mouth-watering combinations of seasoned meats and cheese – are another highlight.
From pizza to pasta, risotto to meat and fish there’s always likely to be something on the menu at an Italian restaurant which will keep even the most choosy diner happy.
And maybe that’s one of the reasons that Pinocchio’s has been a crowd-pleaser for decades.
From the early 1990s to 2015 it was run by restaurateurs Jayne and Nigel Raffles. Then it was sold to Italian brothers Andrea and Gonario Villa.
Norfolk food editor Lauren Fitchett visited recently and declared that she is “yet to have anything other than a lovely meal” at the cosy spot, which is popular for first dates and anniversary meals.
“It feels like rich, upmarket comfort food and a real treat,” she said.
As well as a wide range of pasta dishes, pizza and antipasto they also serve ‘volcano’ steaks that diners cook on hot rocks.
On her visit Lauren chose the gamberoni all’Aglio starter – six plump king prawns cooking olive oil, garlic, white wine and parsley, which she declared delicious.
And her main was a cheese lover’s delight – the gnocchi al Gorgonzola, which also features sliced chicken, mushrooms and olives.
“It was intensely cheesy,” said Lauren. “If you don’t like the kick of Gorgonzola, this isn’t for you. Luckily I do, so tucked in, the gnocchi pillow soft and the Gorgonzola and acidity of olives breaking up the dish’s richness.”
When it opened in 2017, Tipsy Vegan was Norwich’s first totally vegan restaurant and cocktail bar and it quickly built up a loyal following with its street food inspired menu.
And earlier this year it was crowned one of the best vegan spots in the UK, polling sixth in TripAdvisor’s Traveller’s Choice Best of the Best Restaurant Awards 2021.
While the menu is entirely plant-based there’s plenty to keep all diners happy, vegan or not, and almost everything is made in-house from its mayonnaise to its tofu bacon and seitan burgers.
You’ll find influences from all around the world here - plates on the menu include shredded mushroom tacos with guacamole and lime slaw, buttermilk slider with chipotle slaw, Korean bao buns and mac n cheese.
And the pina colada bites with toasted coconut and cream are recommended for a sweet treat to round off your meal.