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Summer in the City...

Stir-fry in a pan

Zena Leech-Calton – owner of Lodge Farm Barns has kindly sent in this blog, for us to to share with you….

I’m an ambassador for food – any food as long as it’s made with love and tastes real good.
When I travel, I google what’s good to eat in the area, pick a good selection and check them out on TripAdvisor – why waste a meal, make sure it’s good - especially on holiday.

So, Norwich has over 500 food and drink places, with 100’s of independents - but here’s just a few of my favourites.

My top places to graze – 

Gonzo’s Tea Room – 68 London Street

This is a crazy mad eccentric ‘man cave’ full of wonder, like a zillion collectable figures, pictures and stuff on stuff. But they serve the best burgers & sweet potato fries in Norwich and certainly the best wings with 7 finger licking toppings like blue cheese and walnut. But it’s not for everyone – it helps if you’re a little crazy yourself! (Casuals an understatement!)

Figbar – 23 St John Maddermarket

Sometimes all you want is dessert and desserts are all they do. (Well except for a couple of savoury pastries) Delicious top London standard blends of sweet yumminess for around £6 - £8 or just opt for one of their freshly baked and prepared cakes ‘n’ bakes – all done to sweet perfection.

Workshop – 53 Earlham Road

My favourite lunchtime haunt. It’s not about the service or the restaurant - that’s all casual, it’s about the delicious Mediterranean Middle Eastern infused tapas style dishes. Choose a couple each and share. The menus stuck to the bar (don’t try and move it!) and served from mid-day. I’ve only ever had one good dish the rest have been amazingly gorgeous and superbly delivered in taste.

St Giles Hotel – 41-45 St Giles Street

If you fancy superb service in a gorgeous art deco setting with quality food to match then St Giles is pure indulgence without the cost. St Giles is part of my food and drink walking tours, because it simply ticks all the right boxes.

Grosvenor Fish & Chips – 28 Lower Goat Lane

Norfolk potatoes and Suffolk fish are superbly cooked together making the tastiest fish & chips probably in the world. The Grosvenor is no.1 on TripAdvisor and rightly so. The seating downstairs is atmospheric, the menu inspiring with exciting goodies like Wako Taco, five quid squid and more – for me it’s the highlight of my walking tour, just one of the many places we visit for a bite.

Baby Buddha Chinese Teahouse –139 Ber Street

One of my food pleasures in life is Dim Sum, I’ve even started teaching it at Lodge Farm Kitchen. Baby Buddha does a great lunchtime menu with a few dozen tapas sized Chinese classic fried, steamed and baked goodies. I love the turnip cake – actually made from mooli. Fried wontons, spring rolls and steamed BBQ pork buns are all classic favourites but Fung Chung is my go to dim sum – steamed thick rice noodles stuffed with a choice of pork, minced beef or prawn. I enjoy my dim sum with a pot of jasmine tea at least every other month.

Moorish – 17 Lower Goat Lane

Take away or eat in falafel pittas – packed full of freshly prepared shredded salad, hummus and a choice of chilli, yogurt & mint or tahini sauce – or go for all three. A basic falafel to take away is £3.80 delicious, filling, cheap and healthy.

Woolf and Social – 21-23 Nelson Street

Local Artisan bread, tempting exciting sharing dishes and great cocktails. Everything tastes so good in this local, just out of the city small but perfectly formed modern restaurant. 

Blue Joanna’s – 103 Unthank Road

A great mix of blue tacos with different fillings, small sharing dishes and tasty sides, they do the best fresh cut chips in Norwich – perfectly seasoned and moorish – load the table and enjoy. I can’t wait to go back for breakfast, the menu looks amazing.

Brick Pizza – 39 Market Place

Simply the best pizzas in Norwich. I like the one with pear & walnuts but the classics are good too. A great dough, amazing tomato sauce and the best quality toppings all cooked in a wood burning oven to perfection.

Dray Yard Smokehouse – 31 Exchange Street

My kids (well teens now) love this American smoke house of meatiness. For lunch, they sometimes do an amazingly good value £5 mid-week main meal – with choices like burger and fries, ribs n wings, mac & cheese or maybe even a burrito with slow cooked shredded pork perfect for family, friends or a lunchtime treat.

Waffle House – 39 St Giles Street

A family favourite. I’ve been enjoying these tasty waffles for over 30 years. The milkshakes are the best in Norwich, I love the fact they source locally and ethically. My favourite is the hummus and avocado but I sometimes go for the specials if they have a curry on, and I can never resit the house salad with blue cheese dressing on the side – always tasty with friendly service.

Flaming Galah – 123 Ber Steet

My favourite chilly day take away. An Australian pie and mash shop. The specials are very special, I’ve enjoyed succulent duck with red cabbage and some exciting Thai infusions, along with their classic menu – I love the chicken pie, so creamy and packed full served on a bed of mash, topped with mushy peas and smothered in rich gravy for just under a fiver with a drink to take out.

Café Gelato – 6 Opie Street

Norwich’s new proper Italian Gelato shop. The freshly made ice cream, made mainly with milk - makes it soft, smooth and delicious. The Italian owner & creator offer tasty seasonal specials too. It’s a great place to pop in to for a scoop and a coffee.

Namaste – 2a Opie Street

While working in London as a chef, we often enjoyed south Indian vegetarian food always ordering Bel Poori, a bit like rice krispies, Bombay mix, cold potato & raw onions with spicy sauce, tamarind and yogurt – sounds strange but it tastes incredible. Namaste offer similar south Indian favourites including Dosa’s large stuffed lentil flour pancakes. 

Assembly House – Theatre Street

One of my absolute favourite things to do is indulge in afternoon tea and I think the Assembly House is the best place to do just that. It is an historic Georgian building full of charm with great service too. A perfect afternoon tea has to offer fresh loose tea, cut the crusts of the bread and always serve clotted cream with freshly bakes scones – they do just that, offering a big range of Wilkinson’s local tea and serving everything just right. (Biddy’s also has a good reputation for afternoon tea)

Lust & Liquor – 2-4 St Benedict’s Street

This is my top choice for cocktails, superbly blended with fresh ingredients, attention to detail with a lot of professional care and love, which is just what a cocktail needs.

There are three places I haven’t managed to get to yet but will do very soon because I know they’re going to be great – B’Nou, Benedicts and Badgers Bottom Secret Dining - 2017 here we come.

More about me…
I offer bespoke cookery classes like no other cookery school around. Offering 15 themes and specialising in Asian cuisine - ranging from bread to tapas. My main two classes are a mini theme for 2, and a group cookery course for up to 8 – always private for your organised group – you can’t get more foodie than that.
My Food and Drink Walking Tours take in a hefty portion of local independent Norwich food joints in over 3.5 hours in a three-mile tasty walk. For more details go to lovenorwichfood.co.uk 

Zena Leech-Calton
Cookery Tutor and Food Writer