Open all Hours

I’d heard of ‘Open’, always thought it was like a youth club, then I saw ques of people going in to functions and realised they offered events too.

Then a year ago me and my daughter wandered in to the café for a bite to eat. A smart open kitchen that was preparing all sorts of reasonably priced lunch items for a mix of diners. There were kid’s clubs, teens in the chill out area, family’s playing games and all sorts of people wandering in and out. 

Norwich is a small place I’m a Proudly Norfolk member, Open and Proudly help each other out. I’ve bumped in to Andrew a few times, last time he was cooking heaps of sausages at the Aylsham Sausage festival with Sarah from Red Cat – we worked together yonks ago – – – so

Then I was asked via Love Norwich food to help promote their Pudding and Prosecco event to my followers. 

So, there I was sitting in the big Open hall, surrounded by 40 heavenly desserts, sipping on a prosecco cocktail and chatting with friends in a massive late 1800’s old bank building, built for the Gurney Family (Barcleys bank) and who also incidentally lived next door to my farmhouse now, they even owned my house back in 1910 and extended it in to a hunting lodge. So, while indulging and pondering all these things, I thought it was my duty to explore who and what Open are about.

Open (open youth trust) are a youth charity, established in 2015 to promote opportunities for kids in late childhood and teen years who need additional support. Profits from events (like the Puddings one), children’s clubs, concerts, nightclub, secure storage space, climbing wall and the gym go directly to disadvantaged children all across Norfolk. 

The Open Youth Trust relies on grant funding and donations to raise funds, enabling open to offer mainly free to attend activities for kids in need up to 25 (I had heard they have up to 16 groups going off at any one time over the summer holidays).

With the aim in engaging those in need in to key areas like participation, learning, employment and progression. 

Andrew Baker is the head of Hospitality, coming from the ‘Feed’ in 2017, he’s Norwich City College trained and started of his cheffing career in his parents restaurant in Cromer.

Open were doing so many varied dining experiences they decided to brand them under the name ‘Dining differently’ offering unique dining experiences in Norfolk.

Like the first Pudding and Prosecco event. 

It was much better than I imagined, not that I didn’t imagine it to be good – but the space is so big, so you can offer all sorts of different activity areas. Plus Open are so generous on hospitality. I’ve been to Open events before, which have been run from other company’s like the Sushi one (disaster) and the Gin one (which was a crowd over load) but this event was run in-house and offered individuality.

Tickets were very good value £18 offering 2 fizz and 3 desserts or £35 including quick entry 3 fizz and 6 desserts plus a VIP seating area.

There was over 40 desserts, I had imagined just a platter each but it was a full on buffet. 

  • With a chocolate fountain area, 
  • a brownie and 
  • make your own DIY cheesecake area, 
  • a gluten free and vegan area 
  • a hot pudding and custard stand, 
  • a sundae & waffle kiosk 
  • plus a humongous stand in the middle with all else from tiramisu, to brullee to bavouis to trifle.

And even though imagined mini desserts the portions were bigger, I’d say small to medium sized. So certainly enough to fill and enjoy. 

Admittedly I’m not a Prosecco lover but they had a good dozen different Proseccos all poured in to your special glass, delivering a good measure. Plus, they had stills and a few cocktails – they even had a few cocktail demos and tasters to entertain and endulge.

I was in dessert and cocktail heaven – – plus they gave us all a goodie bag, generously filled with a mini champers bottle, chocolate, a Gnaw hot chocolate wand, home-made brownie and info along with the tote bag.

I’m telling you all this because this was the first – – they’ll be more and if there is you’ve got to go, it was brilliant. (did I say there was music, local musicans not to loud – just enjoyable) It was very civilised, staff were extra friendly and helpful – totally recommended and YES the food is really good.

If you want more FOOD events ‘Dining Differently’are offering – 

Feast from the East– Middle Eastern Banquet on Friday 13thSeptember

Oktoberfest 2019 – Friday 11thOctober – A massively popular ‘Dining Differently’ Beer fuelled event.

Whiskey & Bourbon Festival on Saturday 9thNovember – (I got some intel! – I think there offering street food too)

Dining in the Dark on Thursday 30thJanuary 2010 – a popular regular foodie event.

Get your self booked on and support this amazing charity.

Contacts – 

01603 763111 – – closed Sundays, open Mon – Sat day times, plus event times.

By Zena Leech-Calton ©

It’s all about the food