Last night I was invited to the Cosy Club launch in Norwich, the old National Westminster bank 45 – 51 London Street.
I used to bank there, looking up on to the high ceilings, decretive panels and hidden gems behind glass screens and dream of what it could become.
Cosy clubs made an amazing renovation job, retaining the period features and opening up the nooks and crannies in to private dining spaces.
I once sat where the main restaurants is now and filled out the forms for my first business loan on Lodge Farm Holiday Barns & Cookery School and there I was six years later revelling in the good stuff.
You enter the rather grand Victorian building looking like something out of Mary Poppins (the old bank not me!, although I did have an umbrella). A corner Victorian stone building with a central, cathedral like light dome. It really is one of Norwich’s finest buildings. Walk up the stone steps or wheel up the new disabled access ramp and you entre architectural Navarna.
Wall to wall of trophy heads, ancestral like paintings, tapestries, ornate Georgian wall paper and columns so thick you could hide behind them. Lavishly decorated with dozens of ornate chandeliers – Del Boy would have a field day & Rhianna could swing for days.
The main banking room is one of many rooms to dine in – the main hall like space is half bar and half table dining. With a range of comfy seating, or bar stools to loll on. A mass stretch of bar ordains the side with beer on pump and a whole host of bevvies.
Walk through and you’ll get to the main dining room area, the once meeting rooms of the bank. The tables are retro sheik, all individually made from reclaimed and salvaged parts from a fellow up-North.
The décor and theme is very much 30 -40’s, but casual smart. Nothing matches, it’s a perfectly balanced miss-match of ornate vintage.
Even the staff get to pick their clothes, there all given a yearly budget to buy Vintage along with Cosy Clubs own designed aprons. They look like a cool Aunt Velma from the 50’s while the men swagger in retro charm and braces.
Staff are picked not necessarily on catering know how, the manager told me they can be taught that, but on character – staff are encouraged to be them-selves and shine. Service isn’t stuffy but casual and friendly with charm and who can’t resist a smile when your waitress has a miss matching flowered flowing skirt with a top that resembles my Nanas curtains from the 70’s, and an apron that’s more like Mrs Bouquets pinnie!
I noticed a few Ivy staff had jumped ship, along with quite a few Jamie O’s staff, they closed down as Cosy Club was opening. Forty odd staff are employed at present – twenty odd chefs, a few runners and a hefty bunch front of house. They all seemed very happy and pleased to work for Cosy, saying there all encouraged to look after each other and work as one big family.
Employing over 40 odd local caters makes me happy – – – it’s certainly good for Norwich’s economy.
Downstairs you’ll find the old bank Vault, one of three private dining rooms with its own bar and extra-long table seating along with additional retro comfy bar seating. There’s even toilets down there – there funky too. The manager told me he can juggle seating around so the space is more multi-functional – think board room, meetings, party’s for up to 20-ish or casual groups for tapas of up to 40.
Then there’s an even bigger room upstairs with seating for up to 60 maybe, also with a bar and loos. Plus theres the Oval office on the ground floor with disabled access.
So, to the food – – Cosy Club plans to open 7 days a week for Breakfast, Lunch, dinner & drinks.
Food is served every day from 9am – 10pm, with the bar staying open until the 1.30am at weekends and 11pm mid-week, except Thursdays 12.30am.
A full English Breakfast is £8.50 or a bacon butty for £3.95, go exotic with a Shakshuka at £6.50.
Sarnies run mid-day from £7.25 but you get salad or fries included.
Burgers and Mains start from around £10, tapas at £4.95 each and puddings around £5. Plus, Kids food from £5.
I think it’s a safe menu – something for everyone including a separate impressive large Gluten free and Vegan menu. You can get your Fish & Chips, comforting Game Pie, cosy fresh fish, go spicy with a green chicken or veggie curry, go healthy with a super salad or a reasonably priced steak cooked to your liking.
We got free tapas at the launch party – they were ok.
They cook a high percentage on site in their upstairs kitchen. It’s a big menu so you’ll be satisfied but I don’t think it will win culinary genius status quite yet. For me it’s all about the food and the flavours but when you get to opening your 23rdbranch and have to keep consistency along with pleasing a large restaurant that can seat over 100 the flavour will give a little.
I’m not saying it’s not good – it’s just not as good as it could be. Food is all about love, taking your time to get it perfect – that won’t happen when you’ve got 170 covers.
I did like the Goats cheese fritters – they punched the goats cheese flavour. The scotch egg was good, hubby loved it – perfectly runny egg in black pudding and pork served with a tangy tasty chutney. We also had pulled chicken with (could be crispier) potatoes, but good flavour. My hubby especially liked the Bacon Poppers with Chipotle sauce, I felt the bacon wasn’t fresh – but he’s easier to please than me. I’m a cookery tutor, I’m always looking for perfection.
So, to sum it all up – it’s a beautifully glorious space, a cosy-comfy restaurant, a massively large menu to please everyone’s tastes, you’ll get good friendly service, food will be good if you choose right, the prices will be reasonable. It will always be open – –
I’ll definitely be back – I must try Breakfast, I love Shakshuka. My daughter will want to see it all (slightly jealous she didn’t get to go) I know she’ll want the full English Breakfast one weekend morning. While hubby will want to try the pork belly main for under £12.
I want to try a Burger – but I’m a burger connoisseur, so might be too scared too, I don’t want to be disappointed but I’ve got very high standards when it comes to the perfect burger – I’d love cosy to match up.
I’d maybe like to see more lunch specials but they do offers
Here’s a few –
- Between Sun – Thur 4 – 8pm they do 2 cocktails for £9.95
- Hot drink loyalty cards
- Tuesdays from 5pm 3 tapas and a wine for £13.95
- Free drink on a Monday from 5pm
- Oap’s over 65 can get a free pot of tea on Wednesdays between 10-11am – – how good is that.
C.C was born 17 years ago by 3 caterer friends who set up a restaurant in Bristol, 9 years later they opened the first actual Cosy Club – Norwich is the 23rd after 8 years, with the closed being in Ipswich.
It’s not grown and grown for nothing – it’s a bar scene with casual dining in a lavish space.
Anyway, give it a go – its new to Norwich, we look after newbies.
45-51 London Street, Norwich, NR2 1HX
by Zena Leech-Calton ©