Norwich: Delia's Restaurant and Bar
She's one of just a favoured few known simply by their first name - Delia. Her restaurant is very her - from the huge photo of her giggling that takes pride of place on the wall to her trademark straightforward yet tasty food.
She's one of just a favoured few known simply by their first name - Delia. Her restaurant is very her - from the huge photo of her giggling that takes pride of place on the wall (although it looks a bit too much like a shrine to appeal to me, I'm afraid) to her trademark straightforward yet tasty food.
Many of the dishes available at her signature restaurant will be familiar to fans of Delia's cooking and there are, as we all know, literally millions of them across the globe. Many of us will have tried the recipes, or very similar ones, at home but only the lucky few (and certainly not me) will have got anywhere near the standard reached by the team at Delia's.
The food is accessible but still exciting. Delia's love of letting food speak for itself is apparent. Sure there's a lot happening on the plate at times but nothing is too heavy or too conflicting.
She likes you to see your vegetables rather than hiding them in sauces or between folds of meat and she does a very good sauce. And potatoes have yet to be replaced by the likes of cous cous or the ubiquitous leaves.
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Back to the menu, then. It changes each week and, for a set price of just under £30, you get the choice of four starters, four mains and four puds. The main courses include a vegetarian option and a fish choice while the pudding selection has a great cheese plate.
As you expect, there's an accent on seasonal produce, spot the apples at the moment, and there's a move towards autumn with the likes of leek and potato soup on offer.
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I started with a Tunisian aubergine salad with coriander and yoghurt served with warm pitta bread which was mildly spicy and got the taste buds going while the prawn and avocado cocktails looked good - plenty of prawns, which always helps.
My roast tenderloin of pork with crème fraiche and mustard sauce was seriously good. Cooked to perfection, the meat sliced easily while the wilted spinach and buttered carrots were so much better than any fancy compote or coulis.
My better half went for roasted monkfish with a Romesco sauce and thought the sauce, made with tomatoes, hazelnuts, garlic and chilli, a bit over powering, proving that you can't please all of the people all of the time.
Several went for the chocolate brownie pud, which did look good, although I favoured the cheese which I reckoned was the best option. The restaurant is supplied by Neal's Yard Dairy and, when I visited, offered Ticklemore cheese from south Devon. It's a goat's cheese and jolly good too, although it was the home-made biscuits and sour cherry compote that really won me over.
Apparently, when the restaurant first opened, some diners expected to find Delia on duty in her pinny and waving a frying pan around. Well, believe me, she's not! But the assembled collection of waiters, bar staff and chefs are very pleasant and have been well trained - which, to be honest, makes a rather refreshing change!
I like the restaurant's décor and atmosphere. Sure, you have a few steps to tackle before you arrive (you could take the lift, I guess) but you push open a couple of glass doors and there you are - a million miles from anything as crass as football.
It's all very contemporary, with cream chairs, much polished wood, plenty of mirrors, crisp white table clothes and enormous vases filled with equally enormous flowers.
The whole experience is pleasant - you have a little drink in the bar area, and the nibbles are good, too, and then consult the menu at your table.
My party of four had a good time. There are enough tables to have a nosy at your fellow diners, yet it isn't so noisy and crowded that you can't hear your chums talk.
And it's a place where you can dress up which is another good reason to visit!
I hadn't visited since the opening a good few years ago now, but reckon this is a solid addition to the Norwich dining scene so don't forget it's there.
t Delia's Restaurant and Bar, Norwich City Football Club, Carrow Road, Norwich; 01603 218704; www.deliascanarycatering.com
t Is there any parking? It's not bad, although we had to park on the slip road as the main car park was closed because of building work.
t Is there disabled access? Yes, there's a lift as the restaurant is up a couple of flights of stairs
t Do I need to book? Best to, I'd have thought.
t What about little ones? Not really - more of a place to enjoy being a grown up!