42 King Street, Norwich, restaurant review: ‘The food’s tasty but it’s expensive for what you get’

42 King Street. Picture: Denise Bradley

42 King Street. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2011

Will this quiet street in the centre of Norwich be home to the perfect tapas?

Salt and Pepper Squid at 42 King Street. Picture: SABRINA JOHNSON

Salt and Pepper Squid at 42 King Street. Picture: SABRINA JOHNSON - Credit: Archant

Food

42 King Street is an international tapas bar, although there are a few larger dishes which are classed as 'sharers'. We opted for the smaller tapas style. Between the two of us we decided to order two dishes each.

The first to arrive were salt and pepper squid and cod cheeks in tomato sauce.

Both dishes were beautifully presented; calamari or squid, done well, is a dish not to miss and 42 King Street's squid did not disappoint. Accompanied by a wedge of lime and some pink pickled onions, the crunchy coating of the lightly-battered squid rings gave way to some top-quality squid set off with a zing of lime and the acerbic onions.

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Salt and Pepper Squid at 42 King Street. Picture: SABRINA JOHNSON

Salt and Pepper Squid at 42 King Street. Picture: SABRINA JOHNSON - Credit: Archant


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Alongside the squid we tucked into the cod cheeks and chorizo, which came in a deliciously rich tomato sauce. The excellently- cooked fish melted in the mouth and stood up against the diced chorizo and the creamy sauce ? which was so nice we ordered more bread to mop it up with.

The next dish to arrive was the beautifully-presented coconut lentils, swiftly followed by the BBQ chicken wings.

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To both of our surprises the chicken wings came battered, with a BBQ dipping sauce on the side, but they were tasty none the less; the meat fell off the bone and the sauce could not be faulted.

The coconut lentils flavour-wise seemed a little confused. The lentils themselves were light and delicately flavoured with kaffir lime leaves but the addition of the sliced beetroot and crumbled feta seemed like an afterthought. The saltiness of the feta and strong beetroot jarred with the delicate lentils.

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Salt and Pepper Squid at 42 King Street. Picture: SABRINA JOHNSON

Salt and Pepper Squid at 42 King Street. Picture: SABRINA JOHNSON - Credit: Archant

We decided to order dessert and it was an easy choice, with both of us ordering an Orange and Vanilla Creme Brulee.

They say you can the judge the quality of a restaurant by its creme brulee. In this case that would be unfair. What we were served was not creme brulee but rather a poorly presented creme patisserie with a mixed berry sauce and rhubarb compote.

Although a perfectly good creme patisserie, which went well with the unexpected berry sauce, there was no hint of orange in the custard, which also lacked the fundamental caramelised sugar lid ? nice as it was, it was not creme brulee.

Interior/atmosphere

I have passed 42 King Street many times and it is rarely empty. I have always been intrigued by the handwritten chalk board outside and the glimpse of the well-stocked bar that says, 'We take our cocktails seriously and we know what we're doing'.

Salt and Pepper Squid at 42 King Street. Picture: SABRINA JOHNSON

Salt and Pepper Squid at 42 King Street. Picture: SABRINA JOHNSON - Credit: Archant

Small and cosy, with soft lighting and quirky decor provided by local gallery Moosey Art, 42 King Street is small but perfectly formed.

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Drink

With a seasonal cocktail menu and such an impressive array of different bitters, it seemed wrong not to order a couple of cocktails. The Lychee Fizz was light and sweet, with the creme de mure giving the drink a beautiful colour.

My dining partner plumped for the Laphroaig Project. Featuring chatruese and lemon, it delivered a smokey and delicate after taste.

Salt and Pepper Squid at 42 King Street. Picture: SABRINA JOHNSON

Salt and Pepper Squid at 42 King Street. Picture: SABRINA JOHNSON - Credit: Archant

For the non-cocktail drinkers there are mocktails, soft drinks, beers and a featured wine of the week.

Service

From phoning up to book a table to leaving at the end of the evening the service was brilliant.

In such a small place the service could easily be intrusive but the waitresses were friendly and personable with food bought out at a good pace.

Loos

Salt and Pepper Squid at 42 King Street. Picture: SABRINA JOHNSON

Salt and Pepper Squid at 42 King Street. Picture: SABRINA JOHNSON - Credit: Archant

The colourful artwork continues inside the one unisex toilet, which is small but clean.

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Parking

Rose Lane car park or Castle Mall are the closest options.

We both cycled to the restaurant, which is within walking distance from bus stops on Castle meadow, tomb land or the city centre.

Salt and Pepper Squid at 42 King Street. Picture: SABRINA JOHNSON

Salt and Pepper Squid at 42 King Street. Picture: SABRINA JOHNSON - Credit: Archant

Location

Slightly unexpected, but fairly easy to get to.

Price

Although you can often spend more than you expect to with 'sharing dishes' both myself and my dining partner deemed it to be quite pricey for what we ordered.

Excluding drinks the bill came to £50, most tapas dishes are between £7.5 - £9 with desserts a similar figure,

Highlight

It's always lovely to discover somewhere new but the standout dish has to be cod cheeks in that delicious tomato sauce.

In summary

Tucked away, in an unexpected location, 42 King Street wouldn't be out of place somewhere in the lanes, but would I go back? I'm not sure.

The tapas portions are generous and whilst the food was tasty and well presented, it does seem a little expensive for what you get.

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