Food review: Warwick Street Social, Norwich
- Credit: Angela Sharpe
Warwick Street Social is lively and stylish with a fun and inventive menu which doesn’t disappoint on flavour
Sometimes restaurants look fantastic, are filled with equally fantastically cool-looking people and have a creative menu to make your mouth water – however ultimately fail to deliver on the most important element; good food.
But at the Warwick Street Social in Norwich, it is definitely not a case of style over substance.Standing like a king pin in the Golden Triangle in a building which has a long history as one of the area’s most popular haunts, the pub appears designed for the hipster set – from its name to its interior styling.
But don’t be fooled (or put off), this is a place buzzing with life and a crowd which isn’t quite as obviously trendy as you might assume when you step in the door.
On a wintry Friday night, the large bar is packed with after work drinkers and it has a welcoming and lively buzz, with a good selection of wine, beer and cocktails.
Upstairs in the restaurant, where the polished wooden floors, industrial styling, exposed light bulb lamps, enormous sash windows and mute greys continue as a theme from the bar downstairs, things are a little more refined – and less noisy. But it loses none of that very special atmosphere.
Another venture from the hugely successful team behind the Ingham Swan, The Warwick Street Social has a great menu which combines classic pub food – with a twist obviously – and daily specials which borrow from a higher end fine dining restaurant.
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Dishes like Fizz and Fish Friday – essentially posh fish and chips served with a glass of prosecco for £13 – and Dirty Chicken served with house slaw, pomegranate, coriander and tomato salted skinny fries are great for a quick Friday night supper out as is the extensive menu of tasty sharing plates and breads.
For starters, we went for the ham hock and pig’s cheek rillettes, pickled foraged mushrooms, apple salad and melba toast and the crab rarebit, combining Cromer crab, Norfolk Dapple, Dijon mustard and toasted house sourdough.
The crab meat was sweet and tasty and not overwhelmed by the delicious Norfolk Dapple, creating a very inventive take on simple cheese on toast, and the pickled forage mushrooms were the perfect accompaniment to the ham hock and pig’s cheek rillettes.
The regular menu includes hearty winter warmers such as cauliflower curry, with sultana and coriander gnocchi and onion bhaji, traditional shepherd’s pie and burgers and steak. However, the day’s specials were too hard to ignore.
Crispy pork belly, sweet potato and harrissa beignets, cumin chickpeas, buttered kale and crackling praline for my husband and parmesan crumbed venison loin, butternut squash parmentier, butternut velouté, crispy shallot rings and venison jus for me.
And what fine choices. The pork and venison were both melt-in-the-mouth tender and full of flavour. The cumin chickpeas packed a punch with the pork and the crispy shallot rings added tasty texture to the creamy butternut squash parmentier and flavoursome veloute.
But stars of the show were the sweet potato and harrissa beignets. These little balls were absolute taste sensations. I would love the recipe – not that I am sure my attempts would compare.
Service at WSS is excellent; the staff are friendly and attentive and know the menu. They are also willing to give an opinion if you are stuck on choices, which not everyone always is.
After a quick break, we were gazing at the dessert menu. My husband had his eye on one of Warwick Street Social’s signature desserts since we booked a table and he wasn’t to be swayed – although the Norfolk Cheese Truckle came close. The WSS Snickers is a dessert to devour. Homemade peanut butter ice cream, a rich chocolate mouse with peanut crumb and salted caramel puree. What is there not to like?
The ‘ice cream van’ is also popular with regulars and is a mountain of a dessert, with a buttermilk waffle topped with two different ice creams, a sorbet, chocolate sauce, caramel popcorn, oat crumb, a blackberry gel and dehydrated raspberries. But I went for a twist on an old favourite – the rhubarb meringue pie, a crispy polenta pastry case, full of tangy, creamy rhubarb with little swirls of elderflower mousse and meringue on top, served with sharp blood orange segments on the side.
Warwick Street Social, 2 Warwick St, Norwich NR2 3LD, 01603 627687, www.warwickstsocial.co.uk