I know! I’m mildly obsessed about food, to the point where if I have a bad meal I’m angry with life that I’ve wasted a meal on anything less than mild satisfaction. I have certain friends that won’t cook for me for pure fear. And even though I say, I’m just happy to be cooked for – I’m kind of lying because l love food to be good food.
What’s the point in of flat lemonade, what’s the point of porridge made with water and what’s the point of putting anything but 100% in to cooking to achieve pure loved flavours that make you melt in to a foodgasum of absolute delight.
And that’s what food can do for you. It’s a simple case of nature – we were born to desire food.
I say all this because when I was invited to the Mermaids Slipper in Stalham for a seven-course taster menu, every course was nothing less than gorgeous. And believe me with a lifetime in catering and an eternity of eating I can critic the best of them.
The Mermaids slipper was taken over a few months ago, keeping its essence and amazing service with a restaurant to be proud of. Tradition white table cloths, chunky cutlery and fresh flowers in a fresh renovated barn with beams and flint and natural woods, with lighting that fades as the evening draws in. A comfy sofa area awaits your entrance with a well-stocked bar and Champagne to treat those in need of their weekly fizz fix.
The A la Carte menu is stashed with localism Norfolk Crab, local venison, Baron Bigod cheese, Gressingham duck, Norfolk coast mussels, local fish along with all the veggies.
Starters like BBQ Octopus, Salt Baked Beetroot, Scallops or Smoked Duck.
Mains like Norfolk Corn-fed Chicken, Monkfish, Stone Bass or Dry Aged Beef Fillet.
Desserts like Plum & Almond Tart or Blackberry Mille Feuille.
Plus, there’s a separate cheese menu with local chutney.
The Mermaids Slipper is set back opposite Stalham Staithe on the Broads, with the twinkling river and boat masts clanging in the wind – Its idyllic. So, to cast an eye from the restaurant over the water is pretty special.
And we’re off – – – –
- The starting gun was fired and over came Parmesan, Poppy Seed Cookie stuffed with Mascarpone & Goats cheese Mousse – the most delicate crumbly biscuit, intense with parmesan, yet with the creaminess cheese delivering a tang.
- A smooth and silky Crown Prince Squash Veloute, Beurre Noisette with textures of chestnut & crispy intense Sage leaves along with a Norfolk Dapple Rarebit – a torpedo of soft bread oozing with a volcano of cheese with a hit of crispy onion.
- Then perfectly cooked Scallops with Cauliflower, Nduja, Rasins & Verjus (I had to look up two of these words, I’m still learning!) – a hit of hot Italian chilli paste (Nduja), with sweet plump raisins, a salt hit from the crisp pancetta and lightly charred cauliflower – magnificent.
- Smoked Gressingham Duck, Satay Duck Liver, Caramelised Plum, Aged Black Mirin & crunchy Soya Greens. Lightly smoked fragrant and tender duck, with the sweet smooth taste of plum and the dressing of gods. On the side came a stick of peanut sauce covered duck livers – tender and flavoursome on a sweet carrot salad.
- Norfolk Venison, Jerusalem Artichokes, Smoked Bacon, Baby Vegetables, Black Truffle & Madeira. A well-seasoned, perfectly cooked and rested venison steak with seven earthy vegetables, crispy stuffed artichoke intense but divine, with a stuffed mushroom adding another dimension of texture. Then if that wasn’t enough you got a side dish of the creamiest, cheesiest dauphinoise and a jug of jus – I was tempted to put it in an atomiser and use as a perfume!
- A refreshing, well needed Raspberry Sorbet, Yuzu & Lemon Balm – fresh and fragrant, melt in the mouth lusciousness.
- Chocolate Bombe & Mandazi using a dark Ecuadorean chocolate, smooth vanilla ice cream and textures of macadamia nuts. The bombe was rich, with a sponge layer and deep chocolate mousse covered with dark & gold. But it was the Mandazi – the African donut that came on the side with a toffee & chocolate dip that blew my mind – the softest and most scrumptious donuts in the world.
- That wasn’t it – despite being in a food coma we embraced the cheese board to additional delight.
The local man who now owns The Mermaid is Dr Julian Brown, a health professional who donates to www.healthamplifier.org ALL the profits from the restaurants along with the tips, the charity provides meals for some of the poorest children in the world.
They frequently take trips to Tanzania providing diabetes services for the locals.
They also want to embrace the Carbon Neutral ethic in to the restaurant minimising food miles. Plus, for every bottle of wine drunk they’ll be planting a tree. In fact, four of the staff are joining them on a trip to Tanzania to plant trees in January.
So, we know the food’s good, we know the ethics are in a good place, the restaurant’s lovely, the views – there is parking outside and if you just happened to fancy a walk around or a day out there’s a museum opposite and boat hire, a lot of the houses around that area are holiday homes, so little escape maybe!.
But in all this excitement about the food I never mentioned the amazing service and fantastic hospitality from the front of house team, with special thanks to Lucy and Sarah. It really does tick all boxes.
So, what’s the future – – well on New Year they’ll be offering a taster menu, price and menu to be confirmed. But the chef promises an exciting fusion with a hint of molecular.
They’re now offering Afternoon Tea, pre-booking on selected days – for £18.75 you’re sure to get a few treats and freshly prepared goodies on splendid crockery. For £25.75 you can include a proper glass of champagne.
Sunday Roast – – our experience was so good we booked in for Sunday Roast before we left.
The chef (@mattjchef ) told me one of the choices was roasted sirloin and I can’t imagine anything less than fluffy roasties and a multitude of veggies, he did mention an extra dish of Cauliflower Cheese included in a £16 Sunday roast. Amazing value for the surrounding and quality. Plus, a Dingly Dell Pork Loin was also mentioned, a sticky toffee pudding & a dark chocolate cake – looking forward to that.
Fancy somewhere to celebrate – The Mermaids Slipper also offer private dining.
I know I’m still High from the food – – but I can’t recommend it enough.
By Zena Leech-Calton
Social media – Love Norwich Food
1 Staithe Rd, Stalham, Norwich NR12 9FE / 01692 580808
Opening Times – – ((See website for the latest regarding Afternoon tea and lunch times)) / / Wednesday to Saturday 6 – 8.45pm / Sunday 12 – 2pm Plus The future will bring Friday and Saturday lunch with a set lunch menu & afternoon tea 2 – 4pm