My stomach and I have had the pleasure of munching and sipping various food and beverages at many Norwich establishments over the course of my time here. I look upon the map of Norwich as a sort of tasting map now – areas associated with memories of savoured meals gone by. Here is a glimpse into that tasting map, a brief introduction to the endless sprawl of cuisine the city has to offer.
We begin on Elm Hill, where one is besieged by a quintessentially British and rather sensuous scent. At first the smell is only just discernible: a whiff carried in the wind. Treading closer, the scent becomes all-consuming. The building in the distance seems too good to be a true, veritable mirage. The aroma comes in waves: warm, golden, crispy, oily – the smell of fry-ups.
‘Olive’s’ is housed on the corner of Elm Hill, before Wensum Street becomes Magdalen Street. Like the odour oozing from its cosy interior would suggest, they are a breakfast establishment, serving generously portioned fry-ups seven days a week. The menu caters to vegans and veggies alike, with food cooked to order. Highlights include their vegan black pudding; their halloumi fries, and their winning combination of both fried bread and toast. The atmosphere is cosy and the decor eclectic, making it a perfect spot for a weekday catch up or a lazier weekend affair. Other honourable breakfast mentions include the more central ‘Cafe 33’, or ‘The Waffle House’ if you are in possession of a sweet tooth!
If you were to head further down Wensum Street, you’d come upon ‘Ancestors Coffee’, a small but mighty cafe nestled between the endless antique shops of Magdalen Street. Narrow and steep, it’s as if the building has been squeezed to slot in between its neighbours, so the stairs are not for the faint-hearted, but there’s seating downstairs for those needing wheelchair-access or with prams in tow. Serving speciality coffee as well as vegan delicacies like buddha bowls, it’s the perfect spot to while a few hours away. The tall windows coincidentally offer perfect people-watching opportunities to have a nose at the constant stream of shoppers traipsing up and down the street outside.
On your way back into the city through London Street, you’ll pass ‘Artel’, and further down, ‘The Little Red Roaster’. ‘Artel’, like ‘Ancestors Coffee’, offers a range of vegan treats alongside their usual fare, whilst ‘The Little Red Roaster’ has a range of heartier lunch options in a more tucked away, quiet atmosphere (that is, if the ‘Olive’s’ breakfast didn’t fill you up!) Closer to campus, there’s ‘Mitre’ on Earlham Road, and ‘Kofra’, on Onley Street. For food on the go, Norwich market is a smorgasbord of street vendors: falafels at ‘Falafel and Friends’, ‘Coral Bay’ for classic Jamaican dishes by a husband and wife team, and Kinder bar, Freddo and Biscoff cookies as big as your head at ‘And eat it’.
Finishing off the day with dinner is a trickier business, for the options are endless, catering to all tastes and cuisines. For a date-night treat, ‘Shiki’ in Tombland offers Asian food described as “Norfolk meets Japan”. For phenomenal, ‘I-can’t-believe-it’s-vegan’ vegan food, ‘The Tipsy Vegan’, is a must visit – their macaroni cheese is not to be missed. For a relaxed meal with friends, ‘Brick Pizza’ provides traditional sourdough pizza cooked before your very eyes. Or there’s ‘Didi’s Dining’: authentic Caribbean food that’s never, in their words, “freezer to microwave”.
Wherever your journey takes you, I hope you too can begin to establish a tasting map of your own savoured, food memories.