William & Florence, Norwich, restaurant review: ‘Easily one of Norwich’s finest’
- Credit: Emily Revell.
It's new to Unthank Road, can the William and Florence hold its own?
Not too long ago The Mulberry Tree on Unthank Road transformed into the William and Florence. The menus are in vogue with a variety of tartines, grazing boards, daily specials and boy are they big on brunch - at the weekends it's bottomless!
We visited on a Sunday. Struggling to be anything other than very British, we couldn't resist the roast dinners. I'm the first to admit that what constitutes the perfect Sunday roast is very subjective. I've personally been on the lookout for one in the city centre for a while.
Controversially, I don't rate the beloved Temple Bar that highly and have struggled to find one that even begins to rival my Nanny's yet something about the William and Florence left me optimistic. I went with the nut roast and my partner opted for the slow cooked fennel infused pork belly.
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The nut roast was pleasant enough, nothing to write home about and the pork belly was slightly tough. It didn't melt in the mouth as one would hope. The fennel infusion wasn't up our street and the crackling was fatty and left untouched.
Both roasts came with identical trimmings; garlic and thyme roast potatoes, red cabbage, sweet potato and swede mash, runner beans, peas and a Yorkshire pudding. The garlic and thyme roast potatoes were gigantic, they could've done with being a tad crispier and softer on the inside but the generous portion size was refreshing – some leave me hungry. The red cabbage and sweet potato and swede mash were both enjoyable, the runner beans slightly underdone and I'm not a fan of peas with a roast, it seems rudimentary and in this case, a weak replacement for the 'sauteed leeks, spring greens and parnisp crisps' listed on the online menu.
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The Yorkshire pudding looked a little sad on arrival. I wasn't too worried, it happens, anyone
that's cooked one knows they have a mind of their own.
Unfortunately on closer inspection the inside had curdled, was undercooked and inedible, I would suspect the batter was underbeaten. The gravy on the other hand was exceptional, homemade with the perfect weight and texture. Full of porky flavour yet not overbearingly meaty, a 10 out of 10. With a few minor adjustments this place could easily hold its own amongst Norwich's finest Sunday roasts.
If you aren't feeling too hungry, The William and Florence is ideal for just a drink and maybe a few nibbles. I took the waitresses' recommendation of a Sauvignon Blanc from Chile. It was light and fresh, just what I had wanted. They also boast an interesting selection of cocktails that average out at the reasonable price of £6.
Inside is very bright, light and breezy. It feels very open and spacious. I liked the decoration - teal blue seats and dirty pink walls. The main attraction though, is the outside. With massive benches and umbrellas out front, as well as a shabby chic grassed seating area at the back, there's plenty of opportunity for alfresco drinking and dining (my favourite!) The slight suburban feel of Unthank Road brings a refreshing change from thecentre of the city.
You may be amused by the reviewing of toilets, but I can hand on heart say these ones were exceptional. With grey patterned tiles, they were beautifully decorated and very clean.
There's a small carpark at the back of the William and Florence or on street parking on Unthank Road, which can be tricky at peak times.
Based in one of Norwich's most sought-after locations, it's bang in the middle of the row of establishments on Unthank Road. Easy walking distance into the city centre and perfect for those living in the Golden Triangle. It offers some tranquility and a change of scenery. Although it's on the road, the cars weren't a bother. I didn't even really notice them.
Brunches are roughly £8, but they offer some interesting alternatives to the usual fry up including a vegan shakshuka. Tartines range from £7 to £9 and grazing boards are £10. The nut roast was a very fair £10, the pork belly £12 and the local corner topside beef was £14.
As usual, I loved sitting outside with a glass of wine. I also really can't praise the gravy enough. I went on and on about it.
Despite a few niggles it was one the better roasts I've had outside of my Nanny's kitchen. My partner wasn't terribly impressed but he's a die hard Temple Bar fan. We both agreed we will definitely return, come rain or shine, to share a grazing board or two. I think it will be a place we frequent quite regularly.
This is an independent review.
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