Jarrold’s department store dominates the lanes with huge glass windows displaying rows and rows of designer names. Anyone could be forgiven for missing the tiny staircase opposite it, which seems to lead from the pavement to nowhere. However, Jive Kitchen is perfect proof that it’s what’s inside that counts. Jive is a one-off place, offering a unique twist on Mexican street food in stylish surroundings, and was the perfect place for a date night. After travelling in Mexico, the owners decided to bring their love of Mexican cuisine to Norwich. The menu is small, but definitely packs a punch, and the careful composition of each dish is evident both in the presentation, quality and flavour combinations.
We started with the pinto bean bocoles, a sort of vegetable cake made from refried beans, and we also had the homemade tortilla chips. The guacamole was so fresh, and throughout the meal we both commented on the perfectly balanced spice and heat of each dish. The bocoles were delicately made, but with powerful flavours and beautiful presentation, it was an appetiser that set the mood for the quality of the rest of the meal.
For the main course, we both had the pork belly carnitas tacos, soft tortilla taco shells covered in various sauces, a BBQ pineapple salsa (which was my favourite part) and a generous portion of slow-cooked pork belly placed on top. The meat was tender and marinated in a delicious rub, which made the sweet and smoky flavours come to life. The whole dish was topped off by some puffed pork crackling on top. It was the sort of classic dish that has no frills, but was served elegantly and with a level of class that I think beats Norwich’s other Mexican restaurants.
Finally, I let my sweet tooth run wild with the churros, described as a ‘taco’, served in a lake of butterscotch sauce and filled with vanilla ice cream. Beautifully presented and authentically made, this dish was a comforting close to the meal.
The service was attentive but not intrusive, and the different dining rooms across the three floors made the experience feel smaller, and more intimate. The décor is tastefully shabby, replicating Mexican graffiti on the walls, with distressed wood making it feel like we were really in a Mexican market kitchen. That’s what Jive is about, simple street food in a relaxed setting – no rush, no fuss, but pride in every dish.
Every bite was delicious, and we left with nothing but praise. We spoke to a waitress, who told us the restaurant had only been open for eleven days, but the home-rooted cooking and atmosphere makes this place feel like a local favourite already.