Love Norwich Food Walking Tour

Norwich Market – A bubbling pot of pure deliciousness


There’s only one thing I love more than Norwich and that’s Food, that’s why I created Love Norwich Food dedicated to all my foodie passions. On top of that I’m very happy to eat too – – –

Hence My Food and Drink walking tours of Norwich was formed three years ago. Why not celebrate Norwich’s independent food scene it’s incredible, we are already in the top ten shopping destinations in the UK. But it’s the food scene that’s pulling people in from miles around. Our fine city is also pulling the likes of The Ivy, Cosy Club and Bourgee in, cafes are expanding, others are opening their doors and on top of that Norwich Markets edible scene has boomed to pure glory.

The market part of my edible food and drink walking tour has become a firm favourite part of the walk. But what always amazes me is how many people don’t know how incredible the market is for really good food and produce.

One lady said ‘I thought they only served chips’ and promised she wouldn’t be happy until she had tried every single street food vendor on offer, and believe me there are a far few – I know I’ve eaten my way through all of them.


If you don’t believe that Norwich Market is a foodie paradise then let me tempt you with some heavenly words –

“Chiabatta, Kimchi, Laab Mo, Aranchini, Zabaglioni, Octopus, Cannoli, Lachmahan ??, Empanada, Churros, Darjeeling, Galengal, Black Cardamon, Chorizo, Baron Bignold” sounds like French!, well you can get Madeleine’s from Jakey the Bakey if you wanted French. No, I’m speaking Food Heaven, just some of the foods on offer.

Not only do we have the biggest open-air market in the whole of the United Kingdom with around 200 stalls, it’s also been in the same position for over 900 years. During the first World War the council bought up all the pitches putting it in to public ownership. When the City Hall was opened in the 30’s the whole site was cleared to welcome in a crowd of 60’000 people for the opening party. It was all refurbished after that and again in 1976 with the introduction of water & refrigeration, then again in 2006 with a canopy, solid roofs and wider aisles.

When I say you could spend a good few weeks eating your way around the world I wouldn’t be wrong. You can go for steak & frites from the French, Dim sum from the Chinese, Green Curry from the Thai, Samosas from the Indian, Empanadas from the South American, a Kebab from the Turkish, Paella from the Spanish, Lasagne from the Italian and Pizza from the Sicilian. That’s not to mention the copious amounts of other stalls like the traditional buttie brigade and the growing cafes of all sorts including to die for Brownies, jammy Bakewell tarts and moorish pastries, not to mention drinks of every description smoothies, milkshakes, organic coffee, hot chocolate, teas and even local ale. And that’s just the takeaway street food vendors.

Want to sit down, that’s possible too with six or more of the street food vendors having a seating areas, six or more having lean on counters, plus there’s benches at the top of the market, toilets to the side or you can hang al-fresco in the memorial garden. Yes, it’s not padded seats and plump cushions but you get real food at an amazing price, £5 – 6 will get you pretty much anything and that’s anything cooked with love and local ingredients by trained caterers who are passionate about what they do.

A labyrinth of local food shops also awaits you up every A-I avenue and around every corner. From local Lowestoft smoked kippers to locally grown coriander, from exotic blended loose teas & coffee beans to local Norwich porridge. Norwich Market celebrates all things local with just about every local micro supplier being supported, think crush oil, Norwich porridge, vegan Bace sauces, Walsingham pork pies, Marsh Pig salami, Norfolk white lady cheese and more, much more and all in one place.


Let me guide you to the Food – Norwich Market Foodie Stall list

Sir Garnet – The pub on the market place.

The pub opened its doors in 1861 but was built in Medieval days. Lauren Gregory took it over in 2012 with a total refit – passion about local food, she allows people to bring in Market food from Monday to Friday if buying a drink. They also invite in market pop ups, Cocina Mia was the last with more to follow. They also use fish, meat and vegetables all sourced from the market. Including having their own recipe sausage from Pickerings. If that wasn’t enough they stock local ale, Vodka, Whiskey, beer and Gin.

Lauren also produces a quarterly newsletter all about Norwich Market.


Brick Pizza– the one to the side of the market, behind Sir Garnet

Ok, I’m going to say it “Brick make the best pizzas in Norwich”. Tons of locals will back me up – there’s other good pizza out there, I love the Italian on the market that’s good pizza – but Brick is a Brick above. The secret is in the slow proved bread dough. Plus, they make amazing flavours like their selection of white pizzas, try the Carbonara – phooooor. And of-course they bake them in a traditional wood burning pizza oven. Prices from £7 – £12, but get a burrata salad on the side for £6 – the soft mozzarella cheese that is burrata is ‘orgasmic’. Take-away available, outside catering and a trailer. Them ‘Brick-ies’ are good.


To the left of the Aisles –

City Fish / M.P Snelling (1 – 5) – Sam Bemment owns both the fish stalls at the front of the market along with the Seafood Bar (4), local cockles and Whelks, along with prawns and other seafood delights can be bought in little pots from a few quid – help your-self to Marie-Rose sauce and seasonings.

One stall specialised more in shellfish while the other in fish.

For example – ‘March’ will bring you seasonal Crabs, Dover sole, Mackerel, Plaice, Spring Cod and Skate.


The Row before the A

 Stall 8(8) – Part of Lakenham Creamery – have had a presence on the market since the 30’s. Chris (the owner since 1992) has a picture of the old Mrs Aldous selling from a cart in front of the Sir Garnet when the new town hall was being built, with a sign saying ‘made with electricity’ How ironic that the latest Ice-Cream fad is made with Liquid Nitrogen!

Lakenham Creamery make two delicious types of ice-cream branded as Aldous & Norfolk Country. Both are made with Marybelle milk. One more classical & one more luxurious and creamy.

No 8 also sell Grey seal Norfolk coffee along with other refreshments and seasonal goodies.


Row A

Cuppie Hut(20) – Mel & Kim, met in my village of Bawburgh (it’s not legally mine) at the local school. Mel went to City College to study catering, while Kim has a natural passion for baking. They started of making party cakes six years ago for birthdays, that soon moved on to selling at local fayres, that then expanded to a food truck, then they landed on Norwich Market in 2018. You’ll find an array of cup-cakes, brownies, Bakewell tart (I love the Bakewell) and more with Strangers coffee, hot chocolate and tea along with their infamous hot pots of cake, custard or chocolate sauce and toppings for £4.50. You’ll always find gluten free and vegan. Mel & Kim’s best seller is the Mars bar cornflake tray bake (I second that) for £2.50. Plus, they offer occasional outside catering events.

Some Seating

Indian Feast(21) – a vegetarian selection of Indian pastry, classics like homemade samosas, along with curry’s and chapattis.

Fresh(22) – started life as a smoothie bar and soon developed to also sell Asian classics like noodle bowls. Prices from £5 – try the BBQ Ramin bowl for £5.50.

Bun Box(23) – Run by Norwich City College trained chef Timothy Irvin (past experience includes 1 Michelin* in Mayfair & Norfolk 4* Hotel pastry chef). Bao buns stuffed with amazing flavours like duck, hoisin, sesame and spring onion (my fav), crispy pork belly and (v) mushrooms along with freshly prepared salad and crunchy nut toppings. Prices from £3.50.

Churros and Chorizo(24) – Nick Brew & Hugo Malik met in Spain at the school gates. Whisk forward a bit and not only do they run their market stall but also their catering trailer with over 40 bookings already set for 2019 – another market success story with the boys upgrading to a bigger plot last year to allow more deli space and seating. They stock all sorts of amazing Spanish fayre including olives & chorizo. As well as making the best freshly cooked Churros and chocolate sauce, along with savoury daily changing authentic Spanish goodies. Nick’s a trained professional chef (City College) and Hugo is more front of house with several London bars under his belt.

Try Sobrasada when it’s in stock, it’s like a spreadable chorizo.


J’s Fruit and Vegetables(27) – owned and run by Jason 4thgeneration. He’s been on the market for 45 years since he was helping out at 6 years old. Open six days a week selling the finest fruit and vegetables, and always local if possible.

Follands Organic (30-31)– Robert Folland took over this stall on after being an employee. He now sells local organic fruits and vegetables when possible along with other organic non-food items. There is a team of local growers who all supply to this stall, as well as Easter Organics making up the rest.

For example, March will bring you Mange Tout, Salad greens and Early Peas.

Jakey Le Bakey(32-33) – Now running Fat Maggies at the Rib’s of Beef

Falafel and Friends (34-35 / B40) – Vegetarian street food, every things vegan except the Grilled Halloumi wrap. They even make their own vegan kimchi, buy it jarred for £4.50. Best Sellers – Halloumi wrap for £4.50 or from the top stall a Buffalo chicken burger made with vegetable wheat gluten for £6 including some tasty spiced wedges. Everything’s tasty and filling.



Row B

Herbs and Spices(42-43) – Does what it says on the stall! Gareth Butcher and Jane Wirgman have run the stall for 43 years. Selling a multitude of loose spices, buy a minimum of 30g, like cinnamon for 60p, along with health food deli goodies. Fresh chunky ginger and massive bulbs of garlic.

Norwich Providore(44-45) – Run by David father of Steve the Artisan baker who makes all his produce in his bakery in Aylsham. He also owns the Bread source on St Giles. Amazing breads and pastries. Sausage rolls for £2, Brays pork pies for £3 and Swannington’s Scotch eggs £3 plus a few veggie savoury pastries.

Mike, Debs and Sons(46-47) – Mikes been selling fruit and veg for 50 years, from Saturday boy to owner. They have a n plastic policy – meaning they avoid plastic wrapped produce whenever possible and encourage customers to bring their own bags. Local is always at the for-front. Plus, they specialise in worldly foods like chillis, herbs, ginger & turmeric. You’ll get the freshest plumpest bunches of herbs for £1.50 and often locally grown.

Birchley’s Loose Leaf Tea(50-51) – Run by Sam Bircham & Frances Smalley. New to the market in 2018, selling a whole host of proper loose tea along with tea time merchandise and tea pots. Including gift tea and bag boxes. English breakfast tea is their best seller 60g for £2.07. Plus you can buy any cup of tea for £2.

Little Red Roaster(52-53) – Yes, its ROASTER not rooster. Darren’s also the owner of The other two Red Roasters – St Andrews Hill & Grove Road. Known for his great coffee and coffee beans to take away. He also sells a small selection of home-made cakes. A flat white is £2.50 – sit in and read the EDP.


 WAS Bia (54-55) – The people behind Bia also opened up The Tipsy Vegan on St Benedicks Street, they are moving on and moving up.

I look forward to what’s coming next.


Row C

Chips and Dips (61) – – Lucy’s Two – the one with the battered fish and more. Traditional fried in crisp batter with local potatoes and fish.

Cheeseman(62-63) (ah, hum lady!!!) on the market for 18 years. Selling dozens of cheeses including Norfolk’s very own Mrs Temples, Fielding Cottage, Ferndale Farm and Jane Murrys.

Cheese-lady also sells direct to local restaurants including Hickmans.

And Eat It(64) – Victoria Famer is the head baker specialising in Giant Cookies £2 and Brownies £2.50. Try a ‘Brookie’ it’s a brownie sunk in to a giant cookie for £2.50 “Hello”. Also ‘Freakshakes’ plus Monster Hot Chocolates which are essentially a hot freakshake,  all £3.95 eat in or takeaway. Plus, you’ll always find Gluten free brownies.



Delight(74-75) – Yasin hails from Turkey and offers shawarma style kebabs, along with Lahmacun (flat Turkish pizza with minced lamb) and Turkish pastries made with homemade bread for £3. Try the marinated chicken kebab from £5 a market favourite.

Bar eating

A Taste of Punjab(76) – Another 2018 newbie, owned by Sukhdeu Singh making authentic Punjabi favourites like samosas, curries and rice. When I was there a regular picked up the Lamb Curry and rice and said it’s the best authentic curry around £5.50. Plus you can add a poppadum for 50p. All cooked by the resident Bangladesh Chef.

Taste of Shanghai(79) – Ting Zhang is a trained Chef, cooking authentic Chinese food. Like the market favourite Chicken Laksa. All dishes are £3.50 for small and £5 for large. Two locals were grabbing their lunch from Shanghai and said it was the best food on the market. Interesting diverse dishes, lovingly made to order – fresh Chinese at its best.


Row D

The Electric Banger Shop(80) – Local market bangers in a local baker’s bun for £3. Almira from Albania took over the stall 3 years ago, but it’s been banging them out for seven. Great value for a long’ole’hot-dog.

Henrys Hog Roast(81) – 18 years old, with the present owner for 8. £3.50 buys you the works with crunchy crackling, stuffing and apple sauce, they use the butchers on the market for their locally reared pork and crusty corner bread.

R.S Baker & Sons limited(83) – Butchers for 90 years old in the same family. All local Suffolk and Norfolk meats.

They offer nose to tail meats like, a pig head for £3.50, trotters for 50p each popular with local Philippinos. As well as all the usuals.

Coral Bay(84) – Jamaican street food run by Sarah & Conery, who also have a stall on Yarmouth Market, along with a trailer for pop up events.

Their Goat curry is a traditional country recipe meaning fresh bone in goat is slow cooked with peppers, onions and carrots with no cooking liquid but plenty of marinade – meaning the pot has to be stirred every 15 minutes, making the sauce thick and sumptuous. Buy it for £6.50

Caribbean dumplings served on a Friday and Saturday.

Bar eating

Dim Sum Place(was Puff & Bean) (90) –  run by Yan from China.

Serving home-made dumplings & blending fresh fruit teas, along with my favourite drink bubble tea for £2.95. Popular with Asian UEA students making up 20% of her customers.


Sicily Market(91 /104E) – Sicilian Market run by Rocco from Sicily knocking up the pizzas (from £5.50) and Bruno from Cava in Italy creating the pasta dishes (from £6). Margarita is the market favourite while proper Italian Carbonara (no cream, made with eggs) and Arrabbiata (spiced tomato base pasta) is always on the menu.

Established 3 years ago, but moved to a double stall with seating last summer.


China Wok & Curry Shop(92-93) – readymade noodles and classics like sweet and sour chicken, although the Fried chicken and rice is a market favourite. Owner and chef Xueyrn Uens hails from China and took over 2 years ago. dishes are £4.50 small and £5 large.

Bar Eating

Rons(94-95) – third generation since 1953. Getting through up to 90 portions of sausage and chips a day for a bargain £1.60. Traditionally fried fish and chips with all the classics.

Bar Eating

Rubys(96) – Emanuele Takaj took over Rubys 2 years ago. But it’s one of the original stalls selling butties. Go for the cheese on toast for £1.30, served on local chunky bread (or beans). Plus, they offer homemade shortcake and scones for a quid.

Bar Eating


Row E

Reggies (100)  – for 75 years. 16 years with the present owner Richard. Specialising in Baps, pies and rolls.

Bar Eating  

Pickerings (102) – second generation, on the market for 30 years. Run by Nathan Pickering and his partner Georgina.

They sell up to 30 tubs of tradition dripping a week.

But they specialise in sausages with over 20 to choose from on any one day including house made Chorizo, Boerewors & Andalouse (????). All at buy 2 lb get 1lb free.

Nathan makes all the produce in Lenwade where they also boil hams, smoke their own sausages and cure their own bacon, using only local meat.

As well as being an online supplier, shipping Pickering sausages all over the country they also supply local restaurants like The Waffle House & Sir Garnet.

Pauls Butchers(112-113) – local game including wild duck, all Norfolk meats, goose eggs 2 for £5 and local free-range eggs. Paul also supply’s meat to some of the vendors on the market.

Established 30 years ago as ‘John’s’ but been Paul’s for 20.

Lucys Chips(114) – is one of 2 stalls this is the one with the chip & dips, Lucy 2 has the full works. Now owned by 2 brothers for the last 2 years, it’s been Lucy’s since 1971.

Cones from £1.20 – with curry sauce or gravy being the favourites.

Lucy’s chips can get through up to 10 sacks of fresh Norfolk potatoes on a good day. Bread from Ketts Hill Bakery.

Watch out for the specials – like the deep-fried mince pies at Christmas time.

Mushy Pea Stall(115) – A market classic for yonks – owned by Anita Adcock. Mushy peas with mint sauce a must, but try the Pie, mash, peas and gravy for £3.60 for small / £4.60 for large, minus 60p for no gravy. But they also sell burgers and bacon butties. Along with drinks.

Debs (115) –  for 16 years. Specialising in traditional butties using local ham and bread from crusty corner.

Bar eating

Georges Spuds(120) – Run by Marion from Albania. Using Norfolk potatoes, Reepham eggs and local meats. Plus a full English from £4.50.

B’s T’s Snack Bar(121) – For 30 years. Now run my Karen serving plenty of breakfast baps.

Bar eating


Row F

Walsingham Farm Shop & Deli(124-125) –  offering a whole host of local supplies. From local milk to local jams. Take away pastries or eat in.

Try the Pie, mash and gravy for £6.50

some local goodies from the Deli – Norfolk Apple Juice, Bungay Raw Butter, Norfolk Cordial, Candis Chutney, Norfolk Garden & Garden Pantry Jams, Norfolk Honey, Norfolk Cakes, Baytree Curds, Norwich Porridge, Yare Valley Oils, Crush all sorts & Walsingham packaged goodies.


Katies Cake Box (126) – has now closed.

Row G

Cocina Mia(152-153) – Owned and run by Ana Bridgman with catering & hospitality roots. Ana was born in Chilli and moved to Norwich as a young girl. She was brought up with amazing authentic Chilean foods cooked by her mum who now makes the bread for her Steak Sandwich – ‘Pan Amasado = Bread’ – ‘Chacarero = Steak Sarnie’. Plus, a range of South American empanadas, cooked on the market (try the authentic Pino* de Empenada / Spicy beef, with egg and an olive) and zesty fresh salads. Nothing spicy hot (except the Pino*) but you can add Ana’s amazing chilli salsa on the side. The market favourite is the Baked Chicken & Chorizo Empanada.

WHATS an Empanada???? – – A Spanish or Latin American pastry turnover like an amazingly flavoured Cornish pasty, with more of a bread than pastry tasting casing – either baked or Fried. (only the Pino* is fried)



Row H

The Orient Express(151/162/163/164) – Asian Supermarket

Sophy’s originally from Cambodia and has a passion for authentic Asian cooking with a background in supermarket retail. selling everything from fresh Korean made kimchi, Thai string beans, green papaya to a myriad of marinades, soya’s, dips and sauces. she also runs Tasty House using as much of her own products as possible.

Tasty House(173) – Asian street food offering a changing selection of authentic Asian dishes, along with organic coffee and other soft drinks. The head chef is a lady called ‘Thdar’ from Burma. Prices around £5 for a main with either rice or noodles.

Also owned by Sophy from the Orient Express, using her Asian mini market ingredients and other goodies from the market.


Lasagneria (175) –  Italian born and raised Paolo Grazzini runs this stall, hailing from Nr Florence. Grab a mighty slab of assorted flavoured Lasagne from £5.50. They even offer takeaway party trays for £17 – 30 serving up-to 6. Plus an assortment of cold drinks.


The End Row

Ice Cream Parlour(178) offering local Aldous Ice-cream, Mr Whippys. Plus Vegan ice-cream.


Sir Tobys Beers(182) – Run by Dominic and owner Toby Westgarth. An ‘offie’ of local ales and beers along with local spirits like Bullards Gin, Norfolk Gin, St Giles Gin and Wild Knight Vodka. Stockists of Wildcraft, Why-Not, Boudicca & Wagtail local brewery ale’s. Along with Norfolk wines and Ciders. Plus, a great selection of craft ales from all over the gaff.

They also have ale on tap – buy a litre from £5.

The boys also offer outside catering and events.


Some stalls offer mid-week breakfast from 7am – from a full English, to butties to Norwich Porridge.

Others are open on a Sunday.

The Markets open all year round.


So, as you can see the market is bursting with delicious goodness. If you haven’t been recently – I urge you to ‘do a snake’ – start from the top and walk up and down the aisles.

And if something doesn’t tempt you I’ll eat my hat. (I can always marinade it in kimchi and serve it in local brioche bought from the market of course).

I talked to Kristine Fox who works for Norwich County Council, she’s the lady in charge of it all, when she took over in 2016 they sent out a survey to gauge what the general public wanted. Over 1000 came back with a unanimous amount requesting more street food and local products. Since then the street food vendors have doubled & localism is spread thick and heavy, like custard over pudding (you can get that too).

Now 48% of the market is dedicated to food, while the other half is other retail. There are 6 pop up stalls which you can hire from 3 days to a month.  Giving newbies the opportunity to trial out business or product for around £100 per week. (Full time food stall rentals work out to a very reasonable £20-30 per working day (approx.)

There is now a waiting list for food stalls, it’s not necessarily first come first serve, business ideas are awarded on merit to keep a good balance for both customer and existing businesses. Many businesses have grown, moved on in to city shops or expended with food trailers and pop up events elsewhere. It’s a brilliant way to start up while treating us locals and visitors to some delicious food.

But since some of the stalls have been there for up to 100 years, while some are in 2ndor 3rdgenerations family’s, we can safely say good food on Norwich market is here to stay.


And when I say good food I mean dishes with amazing fresh flavour – it’s all about the taste for me, throw in supporting local businesses #buylocal, throw in exceedingly good value, throw in rustic charm, throw in local produce and throw in 900 years of history, making something so special and completely unique to Norwich.


Norwich Market is a melting pot of bubbling never ending goodness.

And my goodness do I love Norwich food.


Zena Leech-Calton ©


Tripping Out over Trip Advisor – for good or for bad


I’ve got a few businesses of which involve being reviewed. I’ve got three holiday barns, along with a cookery school and my Food & Drink walking Tours. Then to top off that I have a guest book full of all sorts of feed-back, e-mail comment forms and occasionally a little note left in one of the barns – – –  thankfully most of which are good, honest and legitimate feedback, along with a little bit of useful constructive criticism.


When it’s good, its bloomin lovely – but every now and then you get one that every so much ‘anoys ya’.


Like when someone commented what a great location our holiday barns were in and then marked it 7 out of 10 bringing our score from a perfect 10 to a 9.6. Or the one that marked a negative comment saying ‘it would be helpful to be left some oil’, but I’m not allowed to leave open bottles as part of my grading but I do say in my guest book ‘simply ask for some and I’ll bring it over – that left me a sad face emoji on my review page. Nothing much – but for someone who seeks perfection as the owner, main cleaner, bottle washer and manager I do take it personally.

Even though I should be taking it with a pinch of Maldon sea-salt.


But of course, when the review is a blatant lie, over exaggerated jack-a-nory, or a nasty malicious rant then it can be heart breaking as well as business crippling. Once a review is live it’s hard to get it removed.

And some people’s stilton is another person’s mould!


I heard a guest chef speaking last night and he said he once got a negative reviews because someone pulled up outside, looked at the menu, didn’t like anything on it and drove off – only to go straight on to TA and rant. Not Fare!!!


On the other hand, I do use reviews as a way to make choices. I have without doubt been put off hotels and restaurants by reviews. I’m also cautious to read between the lines and sort the wheat from the chaff. Those midnight pissed up wine reviews, or those ‘I just got kicked out of a club’ reviews or the waitress didn’t kiss my arse enough reviews or my mate bought a café on the same road so I’m going to dish your café review. Or I’m new to this so got all my mates to big me up reviews – – it all happens, we’re dealing with the general public here!!!!


One of my holiday home customers threatened to give me a bad review when I delayed to give him his deposit back until an order came from his company (he got discount for product, but it took over 2 months to receive it) he said ‘well that’s what review sites are for’.

So, we all know some people write reviews out of revenge – luckily the product came and his deposit got returned, as I said it would – nasty little man!


But then there’s the places that really are not up to scratch – a few years ago I had one of the worst meals I’d had in all my life. We took family to the theatre and booked in to a restaurant in the middle of Norfolk. The head chef was the owner, his wife front of house. The menu on their website was different to the one we got that night and the prices were hiked. It was like overcooked 70’d Fanny Craddick food, the desserts were terrible, all decorated with spray cream and a cherry!! The chef walked round the tables at one point, arguing about politics & generally being a (possible drunken) knob. The bill was over £200 and we all walked out feeling violated.


Unfortunately for us, I hadn’t checked it out on Trip advisor or I wouldn’t have been disappointed and I would have been £100 better off and much happier.


Here’s where I have to admit I write for Trip Advisor – it’s all about good food to me, giving people helpful tips and promoting what’s good. I have strict rules to be positive, I don’t want to be nasty and I certainly wouldn’t lie. I’ve been in catering for 30 years – I know what it’s like to be judged, I’ve had people criticise my food and it hurts. People don’t know what it’s like to work in catering, the long hours, the hard work, the delivery the preparation and the service. Some people comment on the silliest of things – sometimes misjudged, sometimes out of ignorance, sometimes delusional. Let’s face it most of the infamous food reviewers & food writers can’t actually cook!


It’s not in a chef’s place to argue – the manager will say the guest is always right, AND THEY ARE so when you cook a steak medium and they moan its under cooked, or they think the lemon tart is too tart, or the chilli is too hot. You just replace it or make it again – it’s all about satisfying your customer – but the customer isn’t always right – we can’t review them! We just smile, serve, handle any issues and take their money. Caterers have to be professional – ranting, arguing, or taking it personally just leads to ‘T’rouble. Walk away – – –

And some peoples delicious tender ‘Tartar’ is another person’s ‘chopped raw steak, with a bloody raw egg on top, errrr’ ‘I thought I ordered steak’ said one customer.


This ‘bad meal experience’ left me in a dilemma, I don’t like to rant, I don’t like to complain, I’m happy to give constructive criticism but I don’t ever want to be one of those TA nutters who let of steam in a bad review – – So I wrote a less than positive review – – – I truly felt, that couple had been serving that food since the 70’s and it simply hadn’t moved with the times, even a decade! Of course, I didn’t say that but I truthfully mentioned I felt it was overpriced, it was over cooked and the menu was dated – as well as pointing out the menu and prices on the website didn’t reflect the menu when you got there. I also requested in a hopefully positive way that walking round the tables for glory was dated and embarrassing.

We used to have to do that at college in 85, I hated it then being the caterer and I hate it now being the customer.


After all people, really should know what they’re going to be getting – it’s not about ripping the customer off, or hashing it all. Not all food places get it right, they don’t always need to be reviewed because they would fail anyway. And not all business that fail are bad – there’s more to running a restaurant than cooking – service, quality, position, management, atmosphere, cleanliness, pricing and advertising all play a part.


Ironically this restaurant featured in a document about ‘how bad reviews on TA effect business’, they have nearly 300 reviews on TA and only 14 are marked terrible, 8 poor and 11 average – so, still doing ok, still open.  And what one person thinks is hideous is another person’s beauty. Some people like pizza hut! they’ll que out of the door. Some people like turkey twizzlers while others think tagliatelle is exotic – we don’t all have the same tastes. That’s why mum’s goes to Iceland!


Anyway, I felt guilty writing my first less than positive review (to be honest I gave it poor but then rewrote it and marked it an average) – after all service was good, plenty to choose from on the menu, ok toilets, handy location and the restaurant was decorated well – there’s always positives too and I like to offer a balanced review, even though the food was shocking.



I’m proud that I’ve written over 350 reviews, with nearly 30,000 points, 59 badges, holding the top badge of 150,000 reads & a top contributor badge. Yet, at the same time I don’t like to openly admit I do reviews – I know my professional colleagues, fellow caterers and social media mates would hate me #dontjudgeme


You see, I’ve analysed the psychology regarding the sort of people who review and I’ve come up with a chart –

I won’t go in to it too much but there is a lot of power hungry, control loving, unprofessional, fake foodies that cause all sorts of stress and anguish to businesses and I’d hate anyone to think I was in anyway associated to that small minority of reviewers.

It’s all for the love of food – honest.


Of, course I feel I’m different with over 30 years’ experience and several decades of eating out, along with traveling to eat. Food is all I know! So, it’s just another branch of my foodie life, along with the other branch of being a mystery diner (I won’t go in to that too much either – but if you want an honest professional assessment, I’m your girl #lovenorwichfood)



It’s all very well getting angry at reviews and taking it personally but reviews are also good for keeping up standards. They can boost a business as much as damage it. My holiday barns are graded every year – I know I can’t let my standards slide, the white gloves come out and the nitty gritty is analysed with a monocle! – Literally!!!


So, let’s say the waiter picks his nose (like I saw last month in a café, no I didn’t dish it on TA, I told his mum (the owner)) and half the menu items are sold out (like some where I went a few weeks ago, I accepted it) and the toilets haven’t been cleaned for ever (that’s a big part of mystery dining assessments) and the food is past its sell by date (seen that too – send it back talk to the manager) and there is maggots in the bacon (ok, it was a cauliflower, yes, I talked to the boss, mistakes happen) – – maybe if all this happens and you get no joy from the management, Trip Advisor is useful as a monitor.


If it’s bad there really is nowhere to hide with social media, review sites and ‘boomerang’! –  and that can be very useful to the consumer.


It was only yesterday that I got sent a Trip Advisor review request from a food business mailing list. And I was happy to oblige – – I’d been there several times, I loved it and writing a review helps people make choices, it promotes the business – it helps Norwich, it helps our economy, it helps local people, local employees and local businesses.


Alcamista coffee shop is zooming up the trip advisor scale and rightly so, the brand is cool, the coffee amazing, the shop neat, the service friendly.

No1 on Trip advisor is The Grosvenor Fish and Chip shop, a regular stop on my Food and Drink Walking tours of Norwich. It’s not ‘no 1’ for nothing, it’s because 100’s of people love it – the menu is amazing, who else makes Wako Taco, the branding, restaurant, service, cleanliness and efficiency is all top notch, plus you can take em to the Birdcage across the road or eat on one of those funky chairs outside.

They do it all right. 1642 people have rated it excellent – even then there is a few marked terrible, mainly from people complaining the food is cooked in beef fat. As I said you can’t please everybody.

Someone’s fish is another person’s smelly feet.


When it’s good – its good.

But maybe when its bad – it is bad.

Even when its good it can be slightly bad and even when its bad it can be kind of alright.


Maybe it just needs to be monitored, there should be no lies, no nastiness or vendettas and certainly no ruining hard working business. And even then, we should take it all with a pinch of salt. Preferably salt and vinegar.


I love it – I hate it – but either way review sites aint going nowhere.


Read between the lines, grab the constructive criticism and do your best.

And even when your best isn’t good enough – just brush it off.



I give this blog 10/10 – – – yer, that’s my review!!!!


(and I don’t like steak tartar!)




By Zena Leech-Calton ©


Love Norwich Food

Monthly FOODIE Competition

I’m launching a monthly competition to be run on my social media accounts (click on the links) – it’s easy peasy and you may be rewarded with a local prize from market goodies to local ice-cream.

9 months – 9 tasty food prizes for 2019 

Join meon Instagram @love_norwich_food


Twitter @foodnorwich

Follow me –  follow the prize – share & tag a friend

One random winner will be picked by the prize company at the end of the month.

MARCH= 1 posted NorwichSpree Book2019  

Get money off (%) or 241 deals on local businesses including Namaste, Nanna Mexican, Last Pub Standing, Sir Garnet & tons more, plus days out, fast food, sports and treatments.


APRIL= 3 delivered pots ofBACE, vegetarian bace sauce pots – a fresh healthy local product, made with beans, pulses and veggies. Perfect as a side, pasta sauce or topper for meats, fish, stuffed veggies, omelettes or toast. 

#healthykids #proudlynorfolk #lovenorwichfood #vegan

MAY = 6 x 500ml tubs of DANN’S ICE-CREAM– deliciously smooth local ice-cream made on the farm with their own milk. Choose your flavours from Wild Strawberry, to Honeycomb, from Salted Caramel to my fav Banoffee (to name a few).

Join me for your chance to WIN

Good Luck

***If you’re a local company who fancy’s donating something yummy for some free promotion – contact me

Zena Leech-Calton – Love Norwich Food


Oil or Nothing

Norfolk’s known for yellow fields of mustard, a coast line full of seafood and farms full of cows, with which the purest of creamy milk makes the best cheeses in the UK. 

But that yellow stuff isn’t always mustard, in-fact 9 out of 10 times its rapeseed – the beautiful crop that makes cold pressed rapeseed oil. It grows particularly well in East Anglia and we have some mighty fine produces of that beautiful yellow sun-kissed oil.

Cold pressed rapeseed oil has 50% less saturated fats than olive oil. But has a flavour that compliments both savoury and sweet dishes. It goes particularly well with Asian foods, as it has a subtle nutty flavour – without the intolerances of nut oils. 

That’s why the Japanese are importing gallons of the stuff, along with British tea and other such goodies. (we don’t even grow tea!!!)

Also known as rape, oilseed or canola and produced all over the world, we produce slightly more than America but Canada and China are the prolific producers. Rapeseed is a bright yellow flowering member of the Brassica family of which mustard, sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage (including kale) are members. 

I taste tested Yare Valley oil, it’s not that I really needed too because I’ve been buying the stuff on and off for years – way back when I first used it to make my Light Carrot Cake, a recipe that featured in my back then weekly EDP recipe column. I’ve always been an advocator of using local ingredients in my recipes,  so Norfolk’s very own Yare Valley oil was an obvious choice – that along with the fact that it has a richer colour than any other rapeseed oil out there. 

Their Rapeseed oil is mechanically pressed and then twice filtered – high in Omega 3 (6 & 9) for cardiovascular health plus a good measure of Vitamin E containing antioxidant & disease fighting property’s – – Yes, oil can be healthy, as long as you’re not drinking it by the pint or even half pint! 

Plus, unlike olive oil which has little micro particles that burn at high temperatures, cold pressed rapeseed oil can stand more of the heat. Not to be mixed up with bog standard supermarket rapeseed oil which has been heat treated defusing the goodness and a whole lot of the taste.

Yare Valley 

make a selection of oils and infusions, some of which I have never tasted before, making taste testing more of a pleasure. 

The basic is fabulous for cooking, dressing and drizzling but they also make a ‘butter’ flavoured oil, which has all the qualities of the standard one with a rich buttery flavour. Amazing for hollandaise, aoli, drizzling and dipping.

The infusions are to die for too – the madras has a curry flavour, great to dip, drizzle or pan fry your Asian delights. 

Truffle oil – – well I’m sold on truffle, but this is the best truffle oil I’ve encounter. The smell is divine, the taste incredible. I love truffle oil drizzled on to cream based soups (especially celeriac), embellished on to pasta, cooked in to ravioli or simply tossed over anything. 

Who wouldn’t want smooth truffle mash – – – well, here’s an idea if you ‘rice’ your potatoes, drizzle on a generous amount of butter oil followed by truffle oil, mix, season to taste and #foodgasum #fact

While I’m at it, here is some information on Yare Valley farm – 

Yare Valley

The Grange




NR14 7AL

01508 538 206

Surlingham is just a 15-minute drive from Norwich City centre they have a farm shop selling not only their oils but their potatoes and all sorts of home grown seasonal crops.

‘Tele Patisserie’ has taken over the café – serving his amazing cakes and bakes along with some authentic Portuguese dishes. I’ve been told the Portuguese soup is amazing. I know the cakes are and I’m a sucker for Natas (Portuguese egg custard tarts, but better than the British ones – layers of crispy puff pastry with creamy smooth egg yellow crème patisserie).

But if you don’t pick up a bottle from the farm shop, Yare Valley are always out there at local trade fares including the Norfolk show, as well as being stocked all over the place including Jarrold’s.

Plus, you can buy on line – oils from £2.99, dressing from £3.75 and infusions from £2.99. Plus, gift packs from £10 (free delivery over £21)

Fancy making a cake with good local oil 

instead of butter ?

Light Carrot Cake

There’s nothing quite like a homemade cake, especially when it’s edging on guilt free. Packed with Autumn Carrots, dried fruit and low in fat and sugar. Made with local rapeseed oil.

Light Carrot Cake 

Makes 8 – 10 slices in a 2 lb loaf tin*

Ingredients – 

2 eggs – large or medium

200 g caster sugar 

125 ml cold pressed rapeseed 

150 g grated carrots (180g un-peeled)

175 g plain flour – sieved with the dry below

1/2-teaspoon cinnamon

Tip teaspoon ground ginger

Tip teaspoon mixed spice (optional)

1/2 teaspoon / 5 g bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon / 5 g baking powder

100 g currants or sultanas


  • Pre -heat an oven gas 4 / 1700c
  • Whisk the eggs and the sugar in a bowl until very light, creamy and pale in colour.
  • Whisk in the oil.
  • Stir in the carrots.
  • Gently stir in the dry ingredients (except currants) until well mixed, but still light and smooth.
  • Lastly stir in the currants.
  • Spoon in to a greased 2 lb loaf tin or other suitable tin. (The cake will rise.)
  • Bake on the middle shelf for 50 – 60 minutes or until a skewer comes out of the center clean.
  • Cool in the tin for 20 minutes before turning out.

Variations – 

Add 60 g of nuts to the mix like walnuts, almonds or pistachios.

Replace the currants with either sultanas or raisins.

Serve plain, dusted with icing sugar or spread with a cream cheese, icing sugar and lemon frosting. Or replace the lemon juice for lime or orange juice or mango or peach puree.

Or top with cream cheese, icing sugar and finely diced stem ginger with some of the syrup.

By Zena Leech-Calton ©

Thanks to Yare Valley for gifting me some samples.

Pancakes, Pancakes, Pancakes

So, good you need at least three!!!

Pancakes day is on my birthday this year March 5th– which is a bit of a bummer as I like to go out for a proper din din and not make copious amounts of pancakes for all my family to ravish in 20 minutes. 

The family favourite is seafood crepes, a creamy thick cheesy béchamel with salmon, smoked haddock & king prawns topped with a poached egg if I can be bothered. Then we work our way through the pile of thin proper pancakes with banana, maple, lemon, sugar, toffee and vanilla ice-cream – but not always all together. 

Sometimes I make a banana dog like they used to serve in ‘Pizza One Pancakes Too’ – – do you remember my favourite restaurant in Norwich, which is now a Zizzi’s on the corner of Tombland.

 When I was pregnant with my daughter I went for the Norfolk Curried Turkey, with banana Pizza and of course always finished with a banana dog. They used to have a wheel of fortune, it was SPUN before you paid the bill – you got a chance of getting money off or even getting it for free – I never won but I loved that place. We went on the last week and took home a menu – a prized possession, one day to be framed.

The ‘Banana Dog’ was a crepe wrapped around a whole banana, with light brown sugar, drizzled with sauce and served with a scoop of the good stuff

I even found while renovating Lodge Farm a menu from an old independent café called ‘Bill’s’ in Norwich, who also sold pancakes back in the 60’s – 70’s.

There’s all sorts of pancakes, like the Indian Dosa, the Vietnamese crispy rice pancake, the Japanese corn, spring onion and cheese griddles pancake topped with Japanese mayo and seaweed but UK wise you’ll find fluffy American Pancakes, sometimes made with buttermilk, which are also Scotch pancakes – fluffy little round pan-fried cakes made with self-raising flour, hence the fluff! Then the French Crepe, the flat frying pan sized ones made with plain flour, milk and eggs.

The only real pancake place in Norwich now is the amazing ‘Christopher’s Crepes’, a food trailer opposite Patisserie Valerie, just outside the Virgin Lounge. He makes amazing fillings and always cooks them fresh – with a huge following, people rave about him on my cookery courses. He’ll also do events and can cope admirably with any que.

Last night I was invited to ‘Bills’ (not the 70’s one) for a gifted Pancake fest. They’ve just had a fit out and it really does look amazing, cosy and chic. A lot of young lifestyle bloggers and me were sat in the private dining area upstairs. Actually, Mr Fry Up inspector was there, so good to meet him in person and everyone was very friendly and bubbly, especially after a few!

 A massive table for around 12 with an impending chandelier hovering grandly above us. Comfy chairs and rustic charm made for a friendly warm atmosphere. ‘Bill’s’ want you to have a good time, relax, enjoy and stay a while.

We were offered 2 pancakes to try off their 11 days of Pancake menu, plus a cocktail. There was already a cocktail on the table for each of us – so shame to say I ended up a little sizzled. 

They offer one savoury, but it is a good-en – Fluffy Sweetcorn pancakes (2 x scotch style) with poached eggs, feta, avocado, chillis and sauce. Apart from it being slightly under seasoned it was incredibly tasty. (£9.95)

Then there was a selection of sweet ones including a vegan one with coconut ice-cream and mango sauce. A banana, salted caramel ice-cream with chocolate sauce one & a berry one with a generous jug of white chocolate sauce to pour over. All at £5.95.

You can also get any cocktail for an extra £4 – – that’s too tempting to miss. 

The cocktails were very good – I should know I tasted 3. Including the Coconut and Rum Margarita, served with a slice of lime and an estercion (even spell check doesn’t recognise it) flower.  

But where else can you get pancakes in Norwichthis fine Shove Tuesday.

  • Café 33– Fruity, yogurt, maple American Pancakes (£8), or add bacon for £1.50
  • Franks Bar– Sweet or savoury American pancakes on their breakfast menu (£7.50)
  • Zaks– £5.95 for buttermilk fruity American style pancakes for breakfast or dessert. 
  • Yummy Yummy, off Dereham road opposite Lidl offer a pancake menu according to Trip Advisor. (A Polish café, opens from 3pm most days)
  • Wild Thyme– Vegetarian restaurant offers the odd pancake (not confirmed) – re-opened the end of Feb.

Plus, this coming Tuesday evening Namastevegetarian South Indian, are offering a £10 unlimited Dosa pancake (a savoury large flat lentil flour pancake served with curry or dhal) along with unlimited Udal (a savoury lentil donut).

So – get your fix of pancakes this coming Tuesday and if you want to pancake inhere’s a few of my recipes – – – 

Pancake Mix (6 big ones – 8)

100 g plain flour – sieved

1 large egg

300 ml / 1/2 pint any milk

vegetable oil to fry

  • Sift the flour in to a big mixing bowl.
  • Crack the egg in the center.
  • Add a good splash of milk and start whisking at the same time as pouring in the remaining milk.
  • Continue whisking until you get a smooth batter.

Tips on cooking Pancakes– 

  • Allow the batter to rest for 20 minutes or so (only if you have time).
  • Heat a non-stick pancake pan or large frying pan.
  • Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil, swirling round so all the pan is oiled. 
  • Pour any remaining oil back in to batter and whisk in straight away.
  • When the pan is very hot but NOT smoking.
  • Tilt the pan up so the bottom is on the heat and the top of the pan’s back is leaning towards you.
  • Pour a ladle full of batter in the top of the pan so it runs down, move the pan around so a layer of batter is formed.
  • Place back on to the heat.
  • Allow to dry and cook underneath before prodding with a palate knife or heatproof plastic spatula, go round the edge of the pancake lifting the sides away from the pan, shake the pan so the pancake is loose. 
  • Flip or turn over and cook the other side. 
  • Repeat until all the mix has gone.

Gluten Free Pancakes (6 – 8)

60 g potato flour

60 g brown or white rice flour

1 small egg

300 ml / 1/2 pint any milk

oil to fry

  • Follow the method above.

Clementine Crepes

  • Make the pancakes from either mix above – 

Sauce – 

2 generous tablespoons orange blossom honey (or other)

4 Clementine’s – juiced

1/2 lemon – juiced

60 g butter – softened and diced

3 tablespoons Cointreau or Drambuie

  • Cook the honey in a frying pan until it caramelizes and turns a golden amber colour. (2 – 3 minutes)
  • Turn the heat right down and stir in the butter along with the juice.
  • Add the Cointreau and bring to a simmer.
  • Fold the pancakes in to quarters and lay in the sauce, spoon over the sauce – warm the pancakes through and serve.

Three Savoury Filling Ideas (2)

Baked Ricotta, Spinach and Lemon– 1 tub ricotta, 2 handfuls of fresh washed spinach wilted in a little oil and butter, 1 lemon juiced – simply mix together. Divide in to two pancakes, place in an ovenproof dish, pour over 100 ml double cream and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. (Top with some grated Parmesan for added flavour).

Stuffed Chorizo, Tomato and Baked Aubergine– roast a whole pricked aubergine in the oven for an hour, on a tray. Remove and scrap out all the flesh. Meanwhile fry of 1 small diced onion in a little oil, along with 3 cm fo chorizo cut in to small dice, 1 clove garlic and 2 plum tomatoes diced. Add the aubergine and a handful of chopped basil. Cooking for 3 – 4 minutes. Season to taste and stuff in to two pancakes.

Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese and Dill– Mix a tub of cream cheese with 60 g diced smoked salmon, a squeeze of lemon and a tablespoon chopped dill. Season to taste and serve cold spread over two pancakes and then roll.

By Zena Leech-Calton ©

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Great Norwich Pub’s

There I was the other day writing a blog about the launch of a new beer and I had to admit that I didn’t like pubs much and I certainly didn’t like beer other than to cook with it, of course! But while I was sitting there a revelation awaited me – Pubs were ok

Shame on me I thought, all those local pubs undiscovered and quite possibly for the wrong reason. I decided there and then I was going to do something about it – but before I tell you what, I’ll tell you why I don’t / didn’t like pubs much.

For that we have to go back to my teen days. Me and my friend for a laugh decided to try every local fisherman’s pub in the port of Lowestoft – we drank out sell silly that night. But it was quite clear a local pub full of what seemed like ‘old geezers’, who would stare at us when we walked in the door as silence fell – Wasn’t a place for two young girls in the 80’s. The taxi driver did try to tell us – we said ‘Take us to the roughest Lowestoft Pub you know’ and while he tried to put us off, he dropped us out-side a rougher than shingles pub, then drove of really quick. But after trawling through the back streets to a few local haunts guzzling down Vodka & lime (actually my friend drank pints), we ended up sitting on top of a sand heap in the middle of a roundabout in Oulton Broad, as you do as pissed as farts putting the world to rights agreeing that was enough local old man pubs for a life time.

Then there was the time when I went for a job interview at The Carlton pub in Carlton Colville for the chef’s position – I’d just finished catering college and was desperate for work. I looked in the kitchen ‘EWWW’ and on the menu – Gammon and Chips, Sausage and Chips, burger and Chips (no bun!!!) – everything and chips – – not only didn’t I want to cook from a freezer bag, I didn’t even get the bloody job. But I realised if I wanted to be a good chef I had to work somewhere who used fresh food and a pub in those days wasn’t the place for anything fresh, even the nuts were stale!

I got a job at The Kings Head in Beccles a hotel, bar and restaurant (now a Weatherspoons). I worked the bar, waitressed and cheffed in the kitchen – until the head chef insisted I stay in the kitchen as his Sous chef. A year later it got taken over by a massive pub chain, one company ‘arse’ brought a picture book in with of how the menu dishes should look. It was the start of chains growing and individuality went out the window along with independently owned pubs. You had to serve the same menu as the other 50 – 100 branches to keep up consistency. 

It’s the same now in most chains they buy 40 – 100% of their food from a factory unit. I soon left and went to London – I wanted to cook fresh, because any cook can cook from a picture or a freezer bag – I was a chef.

London pubs could be dodgy things too, I lived in the East End and even though Reggie & Ronnie were banged up, the odd break out fight with knuckle dusters didn’t go a miss and forget food – you were lucky if they served jelly eels, in fact they did serve jellied eels. 

But good food really wasn’t on the menu – it was all about the drink. That was around the time bars were closing down – local pubs were being lost all over the country. Pubs were dated with sticky maroon carpets, bad greasy food, a ferocious landlady and that one ‘drunk as a skunk’ guy in the corner.

But then came the gastro pub – London was hit with a wave of restaurateurs taking on the dwindling pub, saving the local for something new and fresh. The first from memory was The Eagle down Farringdon, it was raved about – a local spit and sawdust pub, polished up, serving fine fayre. We were there to a packed-out pub eating slow cooked braised beef followed by bread and butter pudding. London saw the Ole English revival and we all embraced it. 

Soon pub upon pub was being gastro-ed and they were back in fashion. We went to The Brackenbury in shepherd’s bush for fried brain fritters (never again!). 

But then someone thought why don’t we chain some more – so The Piano and Pitch was formed in Angel, a traditional pub with piano music and bar snacks, they popped up all over the place. I’m sure they were almost the original Weatherspoons. So, chain pubs and Gastro pubs took over the old fashioned local – a place for everyone with good food, music and a massive modern drinks menu for mainly the modern generation who had the money to indulge.

But even back then less renowned Pub food could be hit and miss, especially out of town. I eventfully stopped pubbing and restaurant-ed instead (not a word). Some pubs hadn’t moved on – if I want frozen cheap sausages & chips I’ll go to Tesco’s.

The other thing about pubs is they can often over charge. I think if a pub is making money on drink, the food should be reasonable, i.e cheaper than a restaurant. So, you don’t want to be paying £15 for a roast dinner when you have to go to the bar to order it and chase up your cutlery, or hunt down the sauce and then look at your dirty dishes for the rest of lunch. Especially when you can go to say The Roof Top Gardens and have a better cut of meat for £15, tons of veggies, a separate dish of cauli cheese and a jug of gravy all served by attentive staff, with good views and comfy seating. Pubs are more casual so that should be reflected in the price – just saying.

You can see why pubs didn’t want to go down the food serving route but times changed and they needed to offer both. Good food takes a few chefs, a porter or two, waitresses or bar staff to serve and lots of time. Plus, a kitchen, storage, organisation, prep time and cooking – then there’s all the washing up. 

Say you serve Duck Confit on a bed of mash with creamed spinach – that’s a cost price of £3.50-4, you sell for £12-14 – that’s only a 200% mark up and a whole lot of work. Plus, you have to pay your chefs more than your bar staff. Not to mention the overheads in a kitchen.

My old sous chef in London went to work at CXR, a gay bar down Charring Cross Road, I was astounded by the literal tens of thousands of pounds they took a week just on alcohol sales. A bar can buy say a bottle of good local Gin in for £30, you get 30 shots that’s a £1 cost – a tonic cost the pub say 20p, slice of lemon and ice 5-10p. The pub then sells at a very reasonable £6.50 that’s roughly a fiver profit (350% profit), while other pubs will sell for £8.50 / 450%. Say you get three ladies drinking a couple of gins over an hour that’s £30 pure profit. You bought the drink in a bottle, you use a glass, your bar staff are on minimum pay and the customer stays for less than an hour using just 3 bar stools. YES I know there is over heads – just saying.

Bars are stocked with essentially bought in packaged products – no effort at all, pure convenience. That’s another reason I’m not keen on bars – you’re getting something you can buy in a supermarket in a bottle or can. Cocktails on the other hand, tea, coffee, fresh juices and exotic blends then I’m happy – I especially love the pubs that offer different drinks. Like The Workshop down Earlham Road, Mint tea to die for, Mango Lassi to bath in, orangina – – – yes, you can still buy it. The Kings Head in Bawburgh offering freshly squeezed OJ. And the insurgence of Cocktails has made my pub lust complete, not only can I go to the local trendy bar in town but you can get cocktails in your local boozer too and they are cheaper. 

If you want to earn money from a business – – earn it from bar sales, that’s your bread and butter – drinks. Buy em in, price em up and sell em. In the catering trade, some restaurants make more on drinks than on the food.

So – – – – I had an idea. He’s got no choice but me and my hubby are going to a different pub date night every Thursday. We’re going to write some names on paper and pop em in a pot to pick a different one each week. I’m going to rediscover the local pub – – write lots of blogs and fall in love again (with the pub!!!).

Last night we went to ‘William & Florence’ an Adnam’s pub next to their shop –  11 Unthank Road, Nr22PE. Hubby had a medium wine for a fiver. I had a massive choice of stills to choose from, the Raspberry Crush by Luscombe took my fancy at £2.50. Of course being an Adnam’s pub they have plenty of local ale and other ales to delight, as well as a really good wine menu. 

The food menu looks amazing, beautiful restaurant style dishes were wafting past to seated diners. Starters, sharing platters, mains, specials, desserts and more. They even had cake and Love Bites on the bar as well as the usual nuts (not out of date). 

Mains range from £12 – 20, £20 was for a proper large quality steak, mostly everything was under £15. Sharing platters are from £11 – £14.50 and luscious desserts around £5.

William and Florence opens its doors every day, is dog friendly and do a very tempting weekend Brunch with unlimited prosecco and cocktails for £25 including pastry’s and a hot drink – – –  TAXI.

The place is beautifully done, a gorgeous twinkly lighted outside seating area so you can people watch, it even has limited parking out back. 

It’s what I would call a local gastro pub – a menu for everyone. It’s certainly popular, the place was buzzing with diners and drinkers – they even had a drunk guy propping up the bar (like all pubs should) – apparently when you go to the loo you have to walk in a zig zag and bang in to the wall once in a while.

I liked it – – – I might go to more pubs, oh yer I’m going to more pubs.

I’ll let you know how I get on and if there are any locals you’d recommend – I’m there with my date.

Cheers to the local pub, good food, friends and the drunk bloke.

By Zena Leech-Calton ©

Godzilla, Horses, Ale & a Roaring Fire

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 ©

Contacts –

The Coach and Horses

82 Thorpe Road, Norwich, NR1 1BA / 01603 477077

Fried Chicken & all that Jazz

To say my sons got an obsession about fried chicken is an understatement. He’s 16 and fried chicken wings is his speciality –  marinated in spiced buttermilk, dipped in a secret blend of seasoned flour and then deep fried until crisp tender, juiciness.

Of course, I get a little irritated my house smells like a chip shop! especially when he forgets the Fried Chicken 3 rules – open the window, extractor on full, doors closed. 

I suppose it starter a while back when I became an avid fan of Diner, Drive-ins and Dives on Food Network. I always loved the one’s when Guy Fieri visited a traditional American Diner where they cooked all the classics, including southern fried chicken.

I armed my-self with a plethora of tips, came up with the ultimate ZFC (Zena Fried Chicken), cooked it up MUMA style and served my family in our American Diner (I said I was a tad obsessed)!!! 

Fried chicken when its good, is so good – there is a real reason why fried chicken shops have sprung up in every orifice of the world.

So to make it juicy you can do one of 2 things – either soak it overnight in a brine or soak it overnight in buttermilk. Both help retain juiciness – more so the brine. Proper fried chicken is simply dipped in seasoned flour – not breadcrumb and not battered. You can even crisp your coating up with adding corn meal, adding a subtle crispier texture. But it’s the secret blend of spices that simply has to adorn the flour to make it extra finger licking. I like paprika, salt, pepper, cumin, dried oregano, a touch of cayenne and sometimes ginger. My son goes for the onion and garlic powder – which I hate on account of its cheat-iness. 

I like to buttermilk – with fresh onions, garlic and spice (as above, but maybe with a cheeky amount of turmeric for extra colour & goodness) going in the mix to impregnate extra flavour. If your savy you’ll add chunky onion rings – and then when you come to fry your chicken you can fry them too in a double dusting of fine or course cornmeal, depending on how crispy you like them. Plus adding them over night to the buttermilk tenderises them, making them more palatable.

Of course, it’s not the same in a fast food outlet, it’s not quite good enough – greasy, left in a warmer, slightly fake tasting, more bone and gristle than meat. Plus biting in to a ‘skinny, fatty’ (yes, that can be a thing!) battery reared chicken, doesn’t give you pleasure. 

So, when I teach my American Classic cookery course – my Fried chicken shines. But when it comes to grabbing some outside my House of Soul – that’s a different matter.

Then I thought Where in Norwich can you go for 

Good Fried chicken.

A few years ago, Woolf and Social opened Woolf and Bird in the city, unfortunately it closed its doors within a year but it did serve the best fried chicken ever. Tasty Asian fried chicken with amazing homemade dipping sauces. 

The Chicken Shop– I first noticed the Chicken Shop in Cambridge, then it opened its doors in Norwich’s London Street, NR21LA. They also have 2 shops in London. 

They invited me in for a bloggers taster session, I met with the staff and was treated to a white plastic tray of tasters. Ji’s chicken shop cooks authentic Taiwanese chicken to order, making it really fresh tasting. I especially liked the chicken breast strips (£4.50) – coated in penko crumbs. The chicken popcorn (£4.50) were good too, but came in another crumb mix. They also batter too, depending on what you order (battered sweet potatoes (£3.50). 

What I really liked about it all was the help yourself seasoning shakes on the counter – Matcha (acquired taste), Cheese (unusual but good), curry (my fav – a Thai red curry flavour), seaweed (great flavours of omami), spicy chilli (yes, it was), salt & pepper and plum (a sweet shake) – they lifted it for me. Next time my chickens getting a tad of salt and pepper, a little of the curry and a lot of the seaweed.

They also sell Taiwanese bubble teas – milk or fruit, bubbles or jelly, green or black, hi, med or low sugar – if you don’t know what to go for try the Mango Fruit Tea made with green tea as a medium sweet with Tapioca pearls (black bubbles) – prices from £3 – 4, plus 50p for extras like bubbles / jelly.

They also make Wok fried to order noodles at £6.50 a box (they’ll make it spicy, unless you ask them not to add chilli or for a mild one). Plum chips (£2), breaded prawns (£4) plus help yourself salad from the mini salad bar for £3.

Eat in or takeaway. They also serve Halal chicken.

Gonzos– 68 London Street, Nr21JT

Let’s not beat around the bush! – Gonzo’s serve the best chicken wings around. £6.99 a lb or 25p per wing between 3-6pm Monday to Friday with a drink.

Over 20 flavours to choose from – the base wings are marinated, floured and deep fried – then tossed in a sauce of your choice, making them hot, moist, sticky and moorishly divine. I love the Blue cheese & Walnut the best, but have also had the Maple & Bacon, Tandoori & Mango, Hickory Smoked BBQ, Nutty professor sate – – all to yummy pleasure. But they also do hot, Asian, chocolate and plainer ones too.

Blue Joanna’s– 103 Unthanks Road, NR22PE

They make an equally delicious, even more crispier and even more sticky = Sticky Chilli Chicken wings £5, sit in only.

The Grosvenor, Fish & Chip Shop – 

Offers Chicky Chicky Bang Bang – crispy battered chicken quarter smothered with their own bang bang spicy sauce and chips for £6.50.

The Grosvenor just knows how it’s done! Takeaway or seat in.

The Coach & Horses, Thorpe– you’ll find buttermilk chicken, cornflake or penko crumb chicken stuffed in to the Godzilla burger & Fried chicken & Waffles. All served with a plump portion of home cut fries and home slaw. 

Want to add your favourite– – message me with a paragraph of who, why and where.

By Zena Leech-Calton ©

Cosy Vaults & Cosy Dining

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.

01603 358640

45-51 London Street, Norwich, NR2 1HX

by Zena Leech-Calton ©

Roger Hickman’s & His Fluffy Carpet

 Roger Hickman’s

Last night I was invited to Roger Hickman’s upstairs Private Dining rooms for a tasty opening. We enjoyed flowing Champagne and delectable canapes. Salt cod croquettes, truffle tartlets, spiced mini bhajis, smoked salmon and a couple of little taster bowls of scrumptious cauliflower brulee and the other of cured mackerel with a smooth horseradish foam – I know! it’s a hard job enjoying good food, lovely company and sampling amazing hospitality, while standing on the fluffiest of thick lavish carpets. (I swear I wanted to crawl on the floor and rub its fluffy quality – but apparently that’s not socially acceptable!)

A lavishly plush carpeted (stop revelling in the carpet!) Georgian dining room with comfy green velvet like booth table seating, comfortably seating 12 – 14 people, or at a push 16 –  all on a massive corner to corner dining table. Offering Roger’s taster menu for a minimum of 8 people for Lunch or dinner Tuesday to Saturday.

But it’s not just a private dining seating area there’s also an open kitchen where you’ll see Roger and his team putting it all together and plating up (technical term!). It’s pure theatre.

And it’s all a very reasonable price – from just over £40 you can have amazingly flavoured food, course after course, with gorgeous bread and smooth deserts, all lovingly prepared with every dish balanced and presented with colour, flavour and texture – I should know I make an annual pilgrimage to RH to indulge in some of the best food in Norwich, with divine service in this unpretentious top Norwich restaurant. It’s all about the food – – and the food delivers year after year. 

Lunch tasting Menu = £41, with wine flight £72

Dinner tasting menu = £70, with wine flight £110

Hickman’s has been a restaurant for over 25 years and before that is was a multitude of trades including a fishmonger. It’s been RH for 9 years and before that Roger was the head chef for Addlards for 5. 

The new Private dining room (don’t forget the carpet) was David Addlards flat. It’s taken 16 months to finish, when you’ve got a graded property you have to jump over hoops to retain the good looks and charm and it certainly does that with a magnificently large sash window overlooking Upper St Giles. Along with the original fireplace, high ceilings in this big open room. Original art work decorates the walls and some pretty cool wallpaper features on the chimney breast. 

Rogers originally from Leeds (I’m saying nothing, my husbands from Leeds – UP NORTH). He did the London thing gaining experience from the likes of Tom Aikins, before moving down to Norfolk. He also did a stint at the Victoria Hotel in Holkham. And while we are name dropping don’t forget Tom Kerridge also worked at Addlards back in the Michelin 1* days. 

But if we are talking awards Hickman’s has had them all, as well as being on every best restaurant list possible. People come from all over to indulge in good food and now they can enjoy the sublime experience of private dining. 

Not bad for a Lad from Leeds. But then again, all the good Northerners end up down south. 

Even if they don’t support Norwich City Football club but feed their players.


79 Upper St. Giles Street, Norwich NR2 1AB

01603 633522

By Zena Leech-Calton ©