Last night I was invited to The Coach and Horses in Thorpe for a beer launch –
Let’s get this straight I’m not a great fan of pubs and I don’t like beer.
BUT – I had seen lots of pictures of the food on Instagram & twitter and it did look amazing, things like big juicy burgers, chicken & waffles, loaded fries and the like – – you know, real comfort soul food.
It’s all about the food for me – I love the restaurant food, the little squish of jell and the tiny lump of rump with a smidge of foam and a quenelle of puree but it doesn’t feed the comfort in your soul – – and it doesn’t always fill me!!!
One of my foodie passions is real American food, I’ve written blogs on the perfect burger, I even teach a Classic American cookery course – I’ve even got an American Diner as part of my group cookery courses, I’ll even give you tips how ice-cubes can help cook burgers. So, when I found out the coach & Horses, just up from Norwich train station offered the only Fried Chicken and Waffles with maple in town I was there. #dinersdriveinsanddives
I went to school in Thorpe and imagined it was much further up Thorpe Road, luckily hubby was driving. We parked for free on Stacey Road behind the station, but the pub has got 8 parking spaces out-front and there are all sorts of 2 hour free spots around. But since its just up from the station opposite the post office, it really isn’t far to walk from the city.
Approaching The coach & Horses it looks like an American ranch house, red with signs of wagon wheels and horses. It must be a cool place in summer with plenty of outdoor seating.
Insides is rustic, with a tad of spit and sawdust, but comfy with an open roaring fire. Lots of chunky saloon type tables and chairs, plus a few bar stools, with plenty of space to sit or perch on the massive bar. Its a place for everyone locals, office staff, tourists, ale enthusiasts & comfort eaters – with a wide age range of clientele.
Then there’s the brew house ‘out the back’, the longest running independent brewery in Norwich ‘Chalk Hill brewery’ last night they launched a new German beer to add to their stock, a rich, dark creamy headed brew with a light malty hop flavour at around 4% (see, I tasted it, I’d cook with it but I’m not going to drink it all)
Anyway, the head brewer Robbie showed me around, Robbie has been the beer boss for 3 years previously working in the brewery, he started of brewing from home like all good enthusiasts that is passionate about the perfect brew. CHB is the most popular ale also on pump at their sister pub ‘The Alexandra’ but you can also take it away in all sorts of sizes.
I understand more about distillery’s than brewery’s but it’s a 4 part system taking 2 – 3 weeks to make a batch.
In what looks like a massive hot tub goes the water and hops to seep, different hops for different ales, some local some from further afield. It then goes in to a big stainless steel heated vat to impregnate the flavour more, then it gets cooled down and transferred in to vat no3 for the yeast to be added where it sits for a few weeks to brew before its then transferred in to barrels.
I worked bars back in the day – I was always terrified anyone would ask me to change the barrel. But I do remember when you had to stop pumping because the sediment at the bottom of the barrel came through – Real ale, really is a thing of amazement and technical knowhow, it’s just a shame I only cook with it.
Here’s a list of the Ales – (some award winning)
Chalk Hill Best also known as CHB4.2abv – a copper beer with a malty aroma.
Tap 3.6abv – hoppy bitterness with a light finish.
Gold 4.3abv – a malty straw-coloured ale.
Mustard5abv – an Indian pale ale with hints of lemon and honey.
Dreadnought4.9abv – a traditional strong ale, with a hint of fruit cake.
Black Anna4abv – a black sweet milk stout with hints of coffee and chocolate.
They also have guest ales – – you can get a taster of 3 x 1/3 pint for the price of a pint.
But it’s a proper pub so they also offer beers from all over the world plus all the usual’s.
Free brewery toursrun regularly (45 mins) – see their website for details.
In Norwich, we had a pub for every day of the year and way back then Medieval Norwich had a micro-brewery attached to every pub – they didn’t pop to the wholesalers. Norwich had and has the best water for making ale, thats why Norwich became the centre for ale – beer was safer to drink back then than water. So, it’s fantastic that in the last few decades Norwich has so many wonderful passionate brewery’s popping up – with a host of real ale enthusiasts to match.
Now back to the food – I couldn’t resist trying the Godzilla burger, I’d seen its spender on social media – I was drawn in.
I love the menu – loaded fries for around £6, a great choice of exciting burgers at £12.50 all with fries and coleslaw – prices are good, portions are massive, foods cooked fresh and with fresh ingredients. I hate when you go somewhere and get frozen chips – – I might as well have gone to Tescos! The coach & horses chip fresh potatoes – that’s how it should be done.
One to try is their Brunch menu running until 4pm – Cornflakes at £2 (see, I like that you can get cornflakes, all those hotels nearby and the station across the road – almost generous), full English with their own CHB ale sausage at £10.50 but a more reasonable bacon waffle for £6.50. Along with butties and stuff on toast from £3.50.
Sunday roasts are £9.95 with a dish of veggies and a jug of gravy.
Hubby had the German platter, a special for the German Beer launch – he was happy with German sausage, pulled pork on a fruity potato cake and the rest. I was more interested in mine, the Godzilla (£13.50) is almost too big to eat – it comes with 2 big pieces of crunchy coated crumbed chicken breast, I had to remove one so I could get my chops around it – fresh salad, a soft roll (ok – I would have liked an artisan brioche or bigger burger bap), lovely sauces, red onion rings, a generous portion of hot fries and a katsu curry sauce to dip along with a little pot of home-made coleslaw.
Comfort Food at its best.
But you can also go for the Chilli challenge at 5,000,000 Scovilles for £7.50 you get a chill bowl, with bread and a spoon. Probably got to be a bit mad and a bloke but if you like burning your lips, shocking your stomach in to retreat and shitting fire – then go for it! Other chilli dishes are available.
From £8.50 – £11.50 you can grab a hot dog and fries with assorted goodies. They’ve teamed up with Pickering’s to make some chunky moist beer infused sausages. Pickering’s are based on the market offering over 20 varieties of home-made sausages, Nathans third generation and of course with that much history they make the best flavoured sausages in Norfolk.
Of course, it’s all about localism for me, good food and independent business employing local people – – so you’ll find Cromer Crab burger, a collaboration with Ronaldo’s (local Norwich ice-cream at its best) making ale sorbet, local sausages and everything home-made on site. They even make beer infused gravy, beer infused onions and they even add a sweet ale to their Sticky Toffee pudding, £5.25 served with another Ronaldo’s ale ice-cream.
Tick, Tick, Tick – – – –
By Zena Leech-Calton ©
The Coach and Horses
82 Thorpe Road, Norwich, NR1 1BA / 01603 477077