From market stall to restaurant: How does Coral Bay's food measure up?
- Credit: Liz Coates
There are some foodie places people talk about and you think 'yeah, I will probably go there one day', and then never do.
But Coral Bay in Baker Street, Gorleston, was on my radar from the start. I was going to go as soon as I could.
Everything I'd had from the original stall on Great Yarmouth's market had been ridiculously tasty, so imagine my horror when I rushed back to the office at the first sniff of lockdown easing only to find it shut.
Simply put, too many people had liked it and the owners had moved on to open an actual restaurant nowhere near where I work.
Come May 17 I was on the phone. This was a booking that just couldn't wait.
So on a sunny Thursday, with husband and reluctant 15-year-old in tow, we made the long-heralded journey to Gorleston and Baker Street - the stomping ground of my youth.
I had worked in Cozies (opposite Coral Bay) when home from uni (it's not Cozies anymore, when did this happen?) so for the first few moments after finding a parking space I was agog at all that had changed.
- 1 'It's not even that short' - schoolboy, 14, put in isolation due to haircut
- 2 'Red-and-white spray paint doesn't count' - three danger lorries stopped
- 3 Norfolk man found drunk at wheel twice in less than a month
- 4 Norfolk set for dry week with temperatures to rise
- 5 'Second time this year' - Armed police called to Norwich street
- 6 Nick Knowles joins outcry as Norfolk police told to close Twitter accounts
- 7 Why your phone might warn you of a 'terror attack' today
- 8 Hundreds flock to see exotic birds in Yarmouth bushes
- 9 Two Norfolk restaurants in top five 'secret' places to eat on English coast
- 10 Fresh calls for action over 'unacceptable' queues at A11 roundabout
At the door there was a bit of a kerfuffle as in all the excitement (I had a different handbag for the occasion of going out) I didn't have a mask but the lady in restaurant was able to provide one.
Inside it's not a fancy affair but has a fun Caribbean island vibe and feels clean and organised.
We were shown to our table and given menus. At around 6pm there were a couple of other tables with people eating, and there seemed to be a lively takeaway trade.
The menu isn't huge, which is a good thing, and we had to look up a few things to be sure of our choice.
I plumped for the ackee - a type of fruit - and saltfish (£13), billed as a classic, traditional dish, while my husband had the Mama D's jerk chicken (£12) and my daughter the sweet potato and vegetable curry (£11).
We also ordered some plantain (£2.50) and dumplings (£1) on the side.
You can choose what your main meal comes with and we went for skin-on fries and sweet potato fries.
This turned out to be bit of an error with my dish as I expected it to be drier but the ackee and saltfish was pretty saucy, and I could have done with rice to mop it up.
That said it was super flavoursome without being too spicy and not too fishy either. The ackee has a scrambled egg kind of texture and there was plenty of peppers and vegetables in there too.
It felt fresh and wholesome and very, very filling. All the portions were enormous.
The jerk chicken was a great old breast, moist and plump and apparently eye-wateringly spicy - my husband said it was hotter than anything he had ever had in our curry house up the road, and it's saying something when even he declares his mouth is on fire.
The vegetarian curry was also super tasty and extremely generously sized.
We all enjoyed the plantain - a cross between a potato and a banana, lovely texture. The dumplings were quite heavy and bready and good for dipping in the curry.
Two out of the three of us were defeated by the generous amount of food.
The couple next to us, who had valiantly cleared their plates, said they were too full for anything else.
But in the name of research we had to try a dessert. There were only two options - a salted caramel cheesecake with honeycomb crunch, or a warm chocolate brownie (£6).
We decided to share the former and it was large and excellent - as we had come to expect - with a little mint to garnish which I loved as mint goes with everything in my book.
With Gorleston being the place to wine and dine it feels like Coral Bay has found a good home.
The food is authentic and it was good to be introduced to some genuinely unfamiliar flavours.
For the three of us the bill came to £56 including drinks, and my husband had a beer.
The most expensive main course was the ackee and saltfish which was still only £13.
The dumplings were only £1 each and a portion of plantain £2.50.
There is no scrimping on the portions and the food feels fresh and authentic, so excellent value if you want a big fill-up.
My daughter enjoyed the Bigga fruit punch also, at £2.50.
Our waiter was friendly and attentive, but not overly so.
We waited just about the right time between courses so we were neither rushed or left drumming our fingers. Feels informal and relaxed.
The ackee and saltfish because it was packed with flavour and a new thing for me. The cheesecake was delicious also.
A great new addition to the town's food scene, and with its enticing menu of cocktails I can only imagine there is a lovely night-time atmosphere helped by the funky Jamaican soundtrack.
There is a takeaway option too.
Coral Bay is on 01493 650842.
Our food reviews are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on their experience of the venue when they visited. The establishment is not aware of our visit, is not informed we intend to write a review and bills are paid by the reviewer. The choice of places reviewed is also independent and is not based on venues which do or do not advertise in our publications.
If you like that, try these
- Soul Café and Restaurant, King's Lynn - This restaurant serves a fusion of Caribbean-influenced dishes blended with the best of British cuisine.
- Norwich Soul Kitchen, Norwich - A resident pop-up kitchen at the Last Pub Standing on King Street, Soul Kitchen serves Caribbean-inspired food.
- SW1 Restaurant, Gorleston - Not far from Coral Bay is SW1, a quayside restaurant serving steak, seafood and plenty more.