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“A must-visit if you’re anywhere near Norwich”, this local institution and bastion of the city’s restaurant scene is enjoying a serious revival thanks to Richard Bainbridge – formerly head chef at Michelin-starred Morston Hall and a familiar face on TV’s Great British Menu. The interior still has that familiar bistro look and “cosy ambience” (inherited from its days as the old St Benedict’s Restaurant), but the cooking has moved up several gears since Bainbridge’s arrival, with lots of thrilling modern ideas now on show alongside some “nostalgic” revivals gleaned from the annals of British cookery. Doughty home-grown flavours shine brightly, although there are plenty of fashionable twists and “beautifully crafted” ideas along the way: Norfolk duck and pistachio pâté en croûte with grapefruit and Jack-by-the-hedge; mackerel with pickled elderflowers and East Anglian asparagus; Norfolk quail with lavender and rainbow chard; hay-baked mutton with cornichons and Jerusalem artichokes. After that, take a trip down memory lane for Thornage Hall rhubarb with cardamom and buttermilk or the ever-popular ‘Nanny Bush’s trifle’ with milk jam (a winning dish on GBM 2016). Service is “unobtrusive” but attentive, and regulars also applaud the excellent value for money.
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