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'The Shoreditch of Norwich' - City's new food and drinks destination

PUBLISHED: 07:36 25 November 2019 | UPDATED: 14:35 25 November 2019

Craig Maskell, general manager at the Artichoke pub, compared NR3 to London's Shoreditch. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Craig Maskell, general manager at the Artichoke pub, compared NR3 to London's Shoreditch. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Archant

Norwich has been well and truly established as a food and drinks destination - but one area is often left off the map.

Ancestors coffee shop co-founder Deanna Lawrence said the area is often overlooked. Picture: AncestorsAncestors coffee shop co-founder Deanna Lawrence said the area is often overlooked. Picture: Ancestors

Magdalen Street and Magdalen Road, located in the north end of the city, are home to a melting pot of restaurants, cafes and bars and have fast gained a reputation as the city's top nightlife spot.

In just over a year, this half-a-mile stretch has seen three food places open and two pubs completely re-gutted and transformed.

The Fish and Chip shop  opened on Magdalen Street this year. From left to right: Rafik Hussein, Juber Ali (owner) and Babrul Matin. Picture: Ella WilkinsonThe Fish and Chip shop opened on Magdalen Street this year. From left to right: Rafik Hussein, Juber Ali (owner) and Babrul Matin. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Two of these food spots, Nergiz, a Kurdish restaurant and The Fish and Chip shop opened in the same month, September, just this year.

Directors of Ancestors Coffee, Ceiran Trigg and Deanna Lawrence, said they jumped at the chance to open a cafe on Magdalen Street and started serving in May 2017.

Spice Valley on Magdalen Street was a finalist in the 2019 English Curry awards. Credit: Colby MarketingSpice Valley on Magdalen Street was a finalist in the 2019 English Curry awards. Credit: Colby Marketing

Ms Lawrence said: "Magdalen Street isn't entirely the new foodie destination, in actual fact it has been the foodie destination for many years - it is just an often overlooked part of the city.

"The choices and range are incredible, and we absolutely love being a part of the street. It has a lot of potential and diversity for such a small street.

Julian and Ruth Kitcher from Ruth's Kitchen have been on Magdalen Street for five years. Picture: Denise BradleyJulian and Ruth Kitcher from Ruth's Kitchen have been on Magdalen Street for five years. Picture: Denise Bradley

"Being slightly out of the centre also allows us to focus more on the quality of what we do, rather than giving in to prioritising quantity."

Manager of The Artichoke on Magdalen Road, Craig Maskell said the NR3 area was now the Shoreditch of the Norwich and the best area in the city for a night out.

He said: "To be fair it is still behind other places with food, but it keeps on getting better. It is definitely the best place in the city for night out."

The Artichoke, which shares its premises with XO Kitchen, re-opened in December last year and will soon celebrate its first birthday which Mr Maskell said he never pictured.

He said: "If someone had told me a few years ago I would be running The Artichoke and serving Korean influenced food I would have laughed in their face.

"But the difference is just completely unbelievable. There is a massive difference in the culture of eating and drinking now."

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He believes part of the area's regeneration is down to an influx of young professionals who have been attracted by the North city's lower property prices.

Low prices also attracted Juber Ali, running manager and co-owner of The Fish and Chip shop, to the area.

The 32-year-old said: "I pay £7,000 in rent compared to £20,000 in the city centre. Anglia Square was a dying area but now lots of businesses are moving in because of reasonable prices. It is really up and coming."

"I also think some central places, like St Stephens Street, are now dead. So many shops have closed."

For many restaurants and pub owners, however, the multicultural make-up of the street has been the main draw.

The availability of fresh produce from nearby ethnic supermarkets has benefitted the co-owner of Ruth's Kitchen, Julian Kitcher, who opened the Jerusalem day-time eatery at the end of 2014.

He said: "Some of the ingredients we use are quite obscure and it is a huge benefit to us that we can buy them on our doorstep. I know the shop owners go to London twice a week to buy them.

"It is a very interesting area as it is the only ethnic street in Norwich and I find it very friendly. But I do think the best food places extend from here up to Tombland."

Wali Ulla, co-owner of English Curry Award finalist 2019 restaurant Spice Valley, described the area as Indian street but added there was a variety of choice.

The 41-year-old said: "There are a lot more people around here and I think now nearly ten restaurants. Norwich is growing and there are lots of students who live here and they pop in for food and drink.

"It is incredibly busy on Friday and Saturday because there are so many pubs."

He was echoed by co-owner of Nergiz, Gulistan Goktas, who said the restaurants was always busy.

She said: "We are the first Kurdish restaurant in Norwich and it is a very popular area for food. There are many restaurants here from Turkish to Indian.

"We came to Magdalen Street because it is an old and popular street. It is very popular and going well."

Do you have any tales of NR3? Email ruth.lawes@archant.co.uk

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