Top food in a welcoming spot at city restaurant

Some of the dishes from The Last in Norwich.

Some of the dishes from The Last in Norwich. - Credit: Lauren Fitchett

The Last is something of an institution in Norwich.

It has, in various forms, been in the city for more than 30 years, changing hands in 2019, and then again in 2020.

You may well have spotted it on social media in recent years - its crab doughnut dish had 15 minutes of fame in 2019 after catching the eye of Instagram users, while its owner Iain McCarten is often refreshingly honest about the challenges facing the hospitality industry.

I was excited to finally, belatedly, visit. So we headed down on a wintry weeknight, ready to cosy up and pore over its menu, tucking into bread and oil which quickly arrived at our table.

We started with oysters with shallot vinegar (£3 for two) and salt cod croquettes (£3) from the snacks menu, because if there's a croquette on a menu it is physically impossible to avoid it.

Oysters from The Last in Norwich.

Oysters from The Last in Norwich. - Credit: Lauren Fitchett

As with all good oysters, they transported us to salty, fresh sea air, with the clean flavours a base for sharp vinegar, dill and, I believe, basil oil.

The croquettes, served with a slice of pickled radish and a branch of samphire, were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, a savoury, warming morsel.

The salt cod croquettes from The Last.

The salt cod croquettes from The Last. - Credit: Lauren Fitchett

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There are small and large plates to choose from, and in the name of variety we treated the small plates as starters (or second starters, I suppose).

I had the Kentucky fried octopus (£9.50), a dish paired with smoked potato tartare, courgette and charcoal aioli.

Photos of the octopus have filled my Instagram feed over the last few months, but it's certainly not a case of style over substance. It was crispy, mildly spicy and delicate, and excellent with the saltiness of the samphire and smokiness of charcoal aioli. 

The Kentucky fried octopus from The Last in Norwich.

The Kentucky fried octopus from The Last in Norwich. - Credit: Lauren Fitchett

It was, as with all the dishes we had, presented beautifully, reminiscent to me of a forest scene, with the charcoal aioli a striking addition.

My husband had the burrata, salami and Charlie's leaves salad with walnut pickle dressing (£9), a fresh, light concoction which received a thumbs-up.

One of the small plates from The Last Bar and Restaurant in Norwich.

One of the small plates from The Last Bar and Restaurant in Norwich. - Credit: Lauren Fitchett

My main was the steamed cod, with seaweed butter, kale, samphire and squash purée (£18).

I loved it - it's clichéd, but it was harmonious. Flaky, slightly sweet cod was beautiful with the salty ocean flavour of seaweed and samphire and sweet purée. Excellent.

The cod with seaweed butter at The Last in Norwich.

The cod with seaweed butter at The Last in Norwich. - Credit: Lauren Fitchett

My other half had the venison burger, with blue cheese, Portobello mushroom and harissa mayonnaise in a potato bread bun (£15).

It went down well - earthy meatiness of venison, saltiness of blue cheese and warming, smoky heat of harissa, held together in a firm potato bun.

We shared a portion of the truffle and Parmesan fries for £4, which are well worth ordering. So crispy, and umami-packed.

The truffle and Parmesan fries from The Last in Norwich.

The truffle and Parmesan fries from The Last in Norwich. - Credit: Lauren Fitchett

Dessert for me was the hug-in-a-bowl treacle tart, with marmalade and clotted ice cream for (£7). The sweet citrus was the strongest flavour - it's up my street, but if it's not your cup of tea I'd opt for something else.

My partner had the custard panna cotta, with cookies, marshmallow and a separate mini milk bottle of cereal milkshake to pour over (£7).  

The treacle tart from The Last.

The treacle tart from The Last. - Credit: Lauren Fitchett

As we paid up, we were given two squares of rich, salted fudge. Delicious.

Value

I was pleasantly surprised, including by the £3 snacks. Our meal - three drinks, two snacks, two starters, two mains and two desserts - was £86.50, which we felt, considering the quality, presentation and extra touches, was good value.

Service

Great - our server was friendly and helpful.

Setting

Decor is classy and simple - exposed brick walls, lots of wood everywhere. Cosy and inviting. Reminded me slightly of a jazz bar.

The Last Bar and Restaurant in Norwich.

The Last Bar and Restaurant in Norwich. - Credit: Lauren Fitchett

Toilets

Head downstairs and walk right to the end of the corridor - they're clean and in good order.

Drinks

A very varied menu, particularly when it comes to wine. I had a fruity, rich rioja.

Last Brasserie, Norwich

The Last Brasserie in Norwich - Credit: Archant

In summary

Excellent food in a really welcoming spot. I'll definitely be back.

The Last Restaurant and Bar, 70 to 76 St Georges Street, Norwich NR3 1AB. 01603 626626.

If you like that, try this

The Old Bank, Snettisham - A family-run restaurant in north west Norfolk, the Old Bank has a solid reputation for stand-out food.

Farmyard, Norwich's St Benedicts Street - A five-minute walk from The Last, Farmyard offers clever dishes using local produce.

Bishops restaurant, Norwich's St Andrews Hill - A long-standing favourite in the city, Bishops offers an intimate but special place to eat out.

The Last

In October,  the Last introduced the Brasserie Café.  

With its very own pastry chef, the café offers home-made bagels, brioche buns, cakes, sweet treats and lunch time bites as well as coffees and hot drinks. It is open Monday to Friday 8am until 3pm.  

Owner Mr McCarten said the new addition has been well received by customers, who have been enjoying a “more relaxed” environment. 

“It has been an idea I have had for a long time,” he said. “But when the pandemic hit it was just one hurdle after another. 

“Eventually we decided we needed to get it open and with Café Pure closing down over the road from us – as we never wanted to step on their toes - we decided to go for it."

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.