The 38 best places to eat in Norfolk according to local foodies
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
Gary Hunter is deputy executive principal for Capital City College Group and the UK’s leading Culinary and Hospitality School in London at Westminster Kingsway College. He lives with wife Nichola in Norfolk.
What’s the Norfolk restaurant you go back to time and time again, and why? Meadowsweet in Holt. Although trying to book a table there is getting harder as more people get to know about this little Norfolk gem. But we love it for the real quality and style of the food and service here.
What’s your go-to takeaway in Norfolk and what’s your favourite order? After a tough working week for both me and my wife, Nichola, there’s nothing better to start the weekend off than picking up our favourite Malaysian-inspired Chinese takeaway from Tham’s in West Rudham. It’s a charming old pub called the Duke’s Head and is a restaurant also, but it’s just the fillip needed to have a beer at the bar with the locals and grab the order on the way home. Our favourite is the Malaysian-style satay beef, their aromatic duck and lots of noodles.
Is there a place you go to eat that you think more people should know about? I’m usually hesitant to reveal my favourite places because they’re personal to my tastes. But I know that’s not reasonable and in any case Sculthorpe Mill wouldn’t thank me if I didn’t mention them. They’ve worked their magical skills on this beautiful old mill and we are so happy that it’s our local too. Boundless enthusiasm from the team, exceptional food, attentive service and genuine hospitality. This is going to be a big success in such a beautiful property.
What’s your favourite pub in the county, and why? The Duck Inn at Stanhoe. A warm and friendly place with a lovely atmosphere, relaxing and is always busy. The food is presented with a thoughtful and honest cooking style and Ben (Handley) is an exceptional chef who understands how to showcase the best local ingredients.
Do you have a favourite hotel to stay at or visit in Norfolk? Morston Hall is the essence of North Norfolk with its tranquillity, friendliness, and great attention to hospitality detail that relaxes and revitalises our batteries frequently. In my view, the food and service in their restaurant cannot be beaten anywhere in Norfolk!
Why is it important to you to support hospitality businesses in Norfolk Because our hospitality businesses are the front-line ambassadors for the Norfolk tourism industry. If we have a vibrant hospitality sector in our county it increases our socio-economic growth – in other words we all benefit from it. I have been inspired by many businesses who have done all they can to innovate during the lockdowns of the pandemic we need to support them with our patronage throughout the year.
Zena Leech-Calton is a cookery tutor and food writer at Love Norwich Food
What’s the Norfolk restaurant you go back to time and time again, and why? I love The Workshop on Earlham Road, it’s kind of hippy-ish, and you wouldn’t look out of place if you turned up in pyjamas and furry slipper boots. But it’s the food that keeps me coming back: tons of sharing plates with a Middle Eastern theme. Every dish tastes amazing, I’ve only ever had one dish that was simply just nice: that’s how good it is.
And which dish/es should we try from their menu? My favourite is the halloumi and eggs, made with the best pan-fried soft halloumi, topped with a fried runny egg, chilli sambal, yoghurt and sumac with chopped coriander - I’m getting food-cited just telling you about it! They also make lovely wraps with homemade breads and long pizzas. I always order a mango smoothie too topped with coconut and pistachios.
What’s your go-to takeaway in Norfolk and what’s your favourite order? I’m not a massive takeaway-er. In lockdown, to support local, we ordered a different one every Saturday night but I much prefer going out and sitting in. And because I’m a chef I can knock up a takeaway quicker than the chap can find us, tucked down our country lane in Bawburgh. But my favourite takeaway in lockdown was The Kimchi - Korean comfort food. They do a toppoki which is a spicy stew with fishcake and tofu which is like a warming cuddle.
Is there a place you go to eat that you think more people should know about? The most underrated place I can think of is The Mediterranean, down by Anglia Square on Magdalen Road. It's essentially an eat-in kebab shop - but they have the best tasting flame-licked kebabs cooked on their coal okabasi and make Turkish bread in-house with the best dips and salads. When I was a chef in London we would have to go to Stoke Newington to find authentic Turkish okabasi restaurants.
What’s your favourite pub in the county, and why? I’m not a massive pub fan either - I’m not a drinker. I prefer gastro pubs when I know the food is going to be great – The Honingham Buck, The Rosebury with The Blue’s Kitchen, The Artichoke with XO, The Stanley with Danomey Kitchen and not to mention The Last Pub Standing with Norwich Soul Kitchen and The Dog House with FUP burger.
Do you have a favourite hotel to stay at or visit in Norfolk? We stayed at The Harper a few months ago - that month when it was summer before it was actually summer. It was glorious weather - just one night away in five-star Norfolk luxury, with flint walls, a spa, a snooker room and a sunny patio where we sipped cocktails before treating ourselves to a three-course dinner.
Why is it important to you to support hospitality businesses in Norfolk? It’s important to support all independents, but hospitality is my business and it’s close to my heart. We are not the best paid, we are worked like huskies and are employed at ridiculous times of the day and night. But we are there to spread joy from simply feeding you something scrumptious to make your taste buds sing. Hospitality was hit hard in lockdown, and without bums on seats every opening hour, the industry simply can’t survive. Independents spend their profits locally, buy from local suppliers and employ locals.
Sarah Daniels runs health and safety consultancy RedCat Partnership and is chair of Proudly Norfolk, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to celebrating the food and drink industry in the county.
What’s the Norfolk restaurant you go back to time and time again, and why? This is a tough question, as chair of Proudly Norfolk, I really can't be seen to have any favourites! And while it would be great to choose a member, I am going to choose our neighbours at the office, Gem of Norwich. There’s always a warm welcome, even when you’re dog-tired after a long day/week. It’s the shortest walk there…and only an eight- minute walk home up the hill. I love the Turkish house rosé wine and the sweet treats that find their way to us.
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And what dish/es should we try from their menu? Gem has a large menu which I have worked my way through. Sometimes, I simply ask the team for something that they know I haven’t had before. But my go to is the meze: a mix of both cold and hot, and then I don’t have to make the choice. Everything is packed full of flavour - my absolute favourite is the smoked aubergine dip.
What’s your go-to takeaway in Norfolk and what’s your favourite order? To be honest I am not a big fan of takeaways, which may seem odd as we live so close to the city centre that we could order anything and everything. I love to cook, and there's always great ingredients at home - so my go-to fast food is an omelette or halloumi. Our lockdown favourite was The Black Boys Hotel in Aylsham, as it’s close to my parents. Every meal we had was a true delight, and the menu means they can feed my traditional fayre-eating parents, our vegan daughter and me and hubby who like to try something different.
Is there a place you go to eat that you think more people should know about? This has to be The Feed on Prince of Wales Road. I do like to fabulous flavours in the salad boxes, the scrummy toasted sarnies, and the ooh-so-tempting cakes. It's great knowing that the money spent is helping to prevent poverty in the community, and the team are always so friendly. You can donate to the community fridge too!
Do you have a favourite hotel to stay at or visit in Norfolk? Not anymore: we now stay in our amazing camper! And I love to wake up to the dawn chorus. If I was to have a cheeky few nights away anywhere, it would have to have a view of the sea, and not too many seagulls. So Titchwell Manor.
Why is it important to you to support hospitality businesses in Norfolk? This is easy, it’s the backbone of the economy. It’s the glue that holds communities together, and enables us to showcase what's best about our county. And personally, it has taught me an amazing set of life skills. If you can deal with customers, the owner and the kitchen team, you can deal with anything.
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Chris Payne, who works in Norwich, is the current reigning Eat Norfolk Food & Drink Awards Home Chef of the Year.
What’s the Norfolk restaurant you go back to time and time again, and why? For us it has to be Benedicts. We love the seasonal nature of the menu and the ambience of the restaurant – it’s relaxed and not stuffy. I’d also really recommend the Dine at Home option that Richard (Bainbridge) introduced in lockdown, we had some superb meals. That said it was lovely to get back there once lockdown eased.
And what dish/es should we try from their menu? It changes with the seasons but we usually go for the tasting menu when we visit as you get to sample dishes that you wouldn’t ordinarily pick. I do love their signature rice crackers with sherry sauce, in fact that sherry sauce is so good I’d happily work my way through a bathtub full of it.
What’s your go-to takeaway in Norfolk and what’s your favourite order? It’s very rare for us that we have takeaways. If we do then it’s either a trip to Eric’s of Holt for their gluten free fish and chips and their delightful tartare sauce (usually eaten overlooking the sea at Weybourne) or we may treat ourselves to the Indian speciality dishes from the Merchants of Spice in Thorpe, specifically the prawn malabar or the methi chicken.
Is there a place you go to eat that you think more people should know about? Recently I’ve been to Jive Kitchen & Bar on Exchange Street in Norwich. I’d never heard of it until one of my friends suggested going there prior to Norwich City’s opening game of the season. Suffice to say the food was terrific…but the football result wasn’t!
What’s your favourite pub in the county, and why? I’m going to use some artistic licence on this one and class The Wildebeest in Stoke Holy Cross as a pub, well it does serve beer… but it also serves some fabulous food. The reigning Norfolk Chef of the Year, Fabio (Miani), is the head chef and his food is fantastic. He really understands how to adapt his menu for gluten-free needs and has gone out of his way to ensure Mrs P is well-catered for.
Do you have a favourite hotel to stay at or visit in Norfolk? There’s again too many to choose from, but I’m going to go for The Norfolk Mead Hotel in Coltishall. Their rooms are stunning and the food in the restaurant is superb. We’ve also managed to secure our first stay at the Neptune in Hunstanton in November which we’re really looking forward to trying.
Why is it important to you to support hospitality businesses in Norfolk? The short answer is that we all love to go out and enjoy great food and drink and have lovely places to stay, so if we’re not supporting them then they won’t stay around. I’m a huge fan of supporting local businesses. My favourite haunts are run by Norfolk people, employing Norfolk people, and showcasing Norfolk produce, and I feel it’s important to play my part in keeping local front of mind and supporting each other.
Morgan Lewis, owner of Bakeaholics bakery in Attleborough, was recently named one of the Eastern Daily Press’ Norfolk and Waveney’s 30 Under 30.
What’s the Norfolk restaurant you go back to time and time again, and why? Ciscoes! I honestly love everything about Ciscoes. The food is incredible and if you love sushi this place is a must. I love that Cisco, the chef (Francisco Papica) is always there in person. Everything is tailored to you and your dining experience. I love the freestyle platters and I also the local beer and spirits they have.
And what dish/es should we try from their menu? The starter of tempura vegetable or bang bang cauliflower. Then my favourite main course is the dragon roll sushi.
What’s your go-to takeaway in Norfolk and what’s your favourite order? My favourite go-to takeaway (you will be able to see a theme in my favourite cuisine here) is Take-Thai. The food is always amazing along with the ordering process. I love the vegetable spring rolls and the prawn pad thai.
Is there a place you go to eat that you think more people should know about? Yes. Benoli in Norwich. This place is a hidden gem. It is incredible, from the amazing hand-crafted cocktails to the insanely great freshly-made pasta.
What’s your favourite pub in the county, and why? My favourite pub in the country is The Wildebeest. This place isn’t just a pub, it’s luxury dining! My favourite thing is the three-course Sunday lunch for £29. Such a bargain for such amazing food.
Do you have a favourite hotel to stay at or visit in Norfolk? It has to be either The Pigs or The Hoste. Both up there as my top favourites.
Why is it important to you to support hospitality businesses in Norfolk? I am a firm believer in not only supporting Norfolk hospitality but also shopping small. I think personally after the past year or so of being locked inside we all need to be thankful for what we have around us, especially the most amazing hospitality culture. We have some incredible bars and restaurants that need our support more than ever. These local chefs and bakers and bartenders need more praise. After seeing the amazing local support from the opening of our shop it has made me want to support independent even more!
James Read is part of Norwich greengrocers’ dynasty Mike, Debs & Sons which was founded in 1968 by Mike Read. Joined by wife Debs and later by sons James and Brendan, the family’s stall can be found on the front row of Norwich Market from Monday to Saturday.
What’s the Norfolk restaurant you go back to time and time again, and why? Benedicts. Perfect for a special occasion or light lunch and great for seasonal produce, so menu choices constantly change: always a winner.
What’s your go-to takeaway in Norfolk and what’s your favourite order? Brick Pizza on Norwich Market for takeaway. The Bee Sting (tomato, mozzarella Nduja, pepperoni chunks, chilli honey) is my go-to for a hit of chilli from Nduja and sweetness from the honey.
Is there a place you go to eat that you think more people should know about? The Garden Kitchen Courtyard Cafe at Hoveton Hall is a hidden gem that more people should know about.
What’s your favourite pub in the county, and why? Our favourite pub has to be The King’s Arms at Fleggburgh: great food, boutique rooms and fantastic staff.
Why is it important to you to support hospitality businesses in Norfolk? We always like to support local businesses as they all bring something different to the table rather than the ‘standard’ High Street. Using local means we keep the local shops/farms/suppliers going.
The Fry-Up Inspector began his blogging career writing about the great English breakfast but now anonymously blogs about all kinds of food and travel. His social media accounts reach many thousands of food fans.
What’s the Norfolk restaurant you go back to time and time again, and why? I’d have to say XO Kitchen at The Artichoke in Norwich. Every dish I’ve ever tried there has been exceptional and the menu changes regularly ensuring there’s always something new to try. Even during lockdowns I would order takeaway from here too which was always the highlight of my week.
And what dish/es should we try from their menu? Korean Fried Chicken, the watermelon salad and cheeseburger flatbread.
What’s your go-to takeaway in Norfolk and what’s your favourite order? Chinese is my absolute favourite and East on Colman Road is by far the best in Norwich in my opinion. My favourite order is peanut chicken, sweet and sour chicken Cantonese and fried udon noodles.
Is there a place you go to eat that you think more people should know about? Danomey Kitchen at The Stanley serve an incredible brunch menu at weekends. Their full breakfast is my absolute favourite and they also serve an impressive selection of filled bagels too. Definitely worth checking out.
What’s your favourite pub in the county, and why? The Reindeer on Dereham Road because it’s a great place to see live music, there’s a spacious outside area, the staff are all wonderful and it’s home to some excellent food served by Dough@deer.
Why is it important to you to support hospitality businesses in Norfolk? There’s such a vast selection of fantastic independent places to eat in Norfolk. It’s important to support them whenever possible, especially after such a difficult 18 months where so many have suffered with lockdowns and the pandemic.