We had to be in Norwich on Saturday morning so I obviously started researching dining options and came across an Instagram account with great food pictures from around the world, and the person happened to be based in Norwich so I had to ask him. He suggested the recently opened Benedicts and I tried to get more info and could not even find a website. He then sent me the url for the site (www.restaurantbenedicts.com) and I made a booking for lunch.
Chef Bainbridge has run a Michelin starred kitchen before and is very talented. The place is adorable, simple and unassuming but with very cute details such as the funny drawings in the men’s loo. If you are wondering how I know about the drawings in the men’s loo, I will leave that up to your imagination…..
The service was friendly and his wife also works there and is very knowledgeable on wine pairings and details on each dish.
For lunch, they have a set menu of three courses for £19, an à la carte (3 options for starter, main and dessert) for £29 or £36 (two or three course choice) and a longer tasting menu that we ignored as we had to get back on the road and had dinner plans at Tuddenham Mills.
What we ate:
Snacks: Pommes Dauphine with smoked paprika: a lovely way to start the meal with little potato dumplings sprinkled with paprika and some parmesan.
The amuse was a pea marshmallow with picked kohlrabi, apple and mint: such an interesting bite and quite unique. Wish there was more than one bite!
Strawberry gazpacho thyme oil and garlic chips: this was an extra surprise sent by the chef and it blew us away. One of the best dishes we have tried in a while and so original with the strawberries versus tomatoes. It was so light, slightly sweet and perfectly smooth and the touch of white pepper on toppwas a nice addition. The garlic chips just added texture and were very subtle in flavour and the thyme oil made it more interesting. The flowers were edible but were more decorative.
Chamomile Roasted Norfolk Carrot, Coffee, Baron Bigod, Dill: The carrot was roasted and I am not sure at what point the coffee came in but they were tinted black from it and had a unique and deep flavour from it. The chamomile was very subtle and the Baron bigod (cheese from the brie family) was just a little rectangle on the side I consumed with every bite, adding creaminess.
Suckling Pig, It’s Own Broth, Broad Beans, Scorched Baby Gem, Quark: turning suckling pig into a light salad is probably not easily accomplished but Chef Bainbridge did it perfectly. I was very happy with his rendition which included some charred baby lettuce, quark cheese, mushrooms and Charlie’s leaves. When we asked what Charlie’s leaves were, feeling ignorant for not having stumbled on such fresh and tasty greens before our waitress answered: “they are greens, grown by a man called Charlie”…..brilliant!
4 Hour Slow Roasted Celeriac, Fresh Truffle, Sorrel, Coffee, Lemon Butter Sauce: I am starting to drool as I try to describe in words one of the best dishes I have had in a while. It reminded me of the celeriac risotto I had with my sister in Paris last year (http://www.samstewartetc.com/paris-terroir-parisien/) as it had truffles but this was even better. The celeriac was roasted for ages and was “cut with a spoon” tender but its skin was crunchy and perfectly crisped. The plate was drizzled with a generous quantity of black truffle puree and also the lemon beurre blanc. It was really a phenomenal comforting, tasty and gorgeously executed dish. This was worth travelling to Norwich for!
Locally caught Wild Sea Trout, new season turnip, yoghurt, lemon, jersey royals, passion fruit: Stewart had this as his main while I devoured the celeriac and it was delicious but the comparison made it harder for Stewart to rave about as he kept stealing bites of my truffles. The potatoes came both from the oven which crisped the skins up and it was also served around the plate which was interesting and new. The salmon was perfectly cooked (i.e. barely) and the passion fruit and yoghurt combo was light and beautiful.
Nanny Bush’s summer trifle and milk jam: he learned to cook from his nanny so named this in her honour. The trifle came with popping candy and tiny candies sprinkled around and the raspberries were plump and delicious. A very good dessert, made it whimsical by the colours and the popping candy. Fun…..
In sum: a fantastic new spot in Norwich serving food you want to drive the 2.5 hours from London to eat. When you search for the restaurant online, beware! There was another restaurant in the very same spot for 20 years that received very bad reviews. Chef Bainbridge’s spot is brand new and amazing. Great place if you are in the area…
ps: and the answer was….Stewart took the pictures in the men’s loo…….but I know your imagination suggested something else…..
Restaurant Benedicts restaurant benedicts norwich