The 38 best places to eat in Norfolk according to local foodies

The EDP chats to Sarah Daniels and Chris Payne (and others!) about their favourite places in Norfolk ahead of National Hospitality Day on 18th September.

Sarah Daniels runs health and safety consultancy RedCat Partnership and is chair of Proudly Norfolk, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to celebrating the food and drink industry in the county.

What’s the Norfolk restaurant you go back to time and time again, and why? This is a tough question, as chair of Proudly Norfolk, I really can't be seen to have any favourites! And while it would be great to choose a member, I am going to choose our neighbours at the office, Gem of Norwich. There’s always a warm welcome, even when you’re dog-tired after a long day/week. It’s the shortest walk there…and only an eight- minute walk home up the hill. I love the Turkish house rosé wine and the sweet treats that find their way to us.

And what dish/es should we try from their menu? Gem has a large menu which I have worked my way through. Sometimes, I simply ask the team for something that they know I haven’t had before. But my go to is the meze: a mix of both cold and hot, and then I don’t have to make the choice. Everything is packed full of flavour - my absolute favourite is the smoked aubergine dip.

What’s your go-to takeaway in Norfolk and what’s your favourite order? To be honest I am not a big fan of takeaways, which may seem odd as we live so close to the city centre that we could order anything and everything. I love to cook, and there's always great ingredients at home - so my go-to fast food is an omelette or halloumi. Our lockdown favourite was The Black Boys Hotel in Aylsham, as it’s close to my parents. Every meal we had was a true delight, and the menu means they can feed my traditional fayre-eating parents, our vegan daughter and me and hubby who like to try something different.

Is there a place you go to eat that you think more people should know about? This has to be The Feed on Prince of Wales Road. I do like to fabulous flavours in the salad boxes, the scrummy toasted sarnies, and the ooh-so-tempting cakes. It's great knowing that the money spent is helping to prevent poverty in the community, and the team are always so friendly. You can donate to the community fridge too!

Do you have a favourite hotel to stay at or visit in Norfolk? Not anymore: we now stay in our amazing camper! And I love to wake up to the dawn chorus. If I was to have a cheeky few nights away anywhere, it would have to have a view of the sea, and not too many seagulls. So Titchwell Manor.

Why is it important to you to support hospitality businesses in Norfolk? This is easy, it’s the backbone of the economy. It’s the glue that holds communities together, and enables us to showcase what's best about our county. And personally, it has taught me an amazing set of life skills. If you can deal with customers, the owner and the kitchen team, you can deal with anything.

Chris Payne, who works in Norwich, is the current reigning Eat Norfolk Food & Drink Awards Home Chef of the Year.

What’s the Norfolk restaurant you go back to time and time again, and why? For us it has to be Benedicts. We love the seasonal nature of the menu and the ambience of the restaurant – it’s relaxed and not stuffy. I’d also really recommend the Dine at Home option that Richard (Bainbridge) introduced in lockdown, we had some superb meals. That said it was lovely to get back there once lockdown eased.

And what dish/es should we try from their menu? It changes with the seasons but we usually go for the tasting menu when we visit as you get to sample dishes that you wouldn’t ordinarily pick. I do love their signature rice crackers with sherry sauce, in fact that sherry sauce is so good I’d happily work my way through a bathtub full of it.

What’s your go-to takeaway in Norfolk and what’s your favourite order? It’s very rare for us that we have takeaways. If we do then it’s either a trip to Eric’s of Holt for their gluten free fish and chips and their delightful tartare sauce (usually eaten overlooking the sea at Weybourne) or we may treat ourselves to the Indian speciality dishes from the Merchants of Spice in Thorpe, specifically the prawn malabar or the methi chicken.

Is there a place you go to eat that you think more people should know about? Recently I’ve been to Jive Kitchen & Bar on Exchange Street in Norwich. I’d never heard of it until one of my friends suggested going there prior to Norwich City’s opening game of the season. Suffice to say the food was terrific…but the football result wasn’t!

What’s your favourite pub in the county, and why? I’m going to use some artistic licence on this one and class The Wildebeest in Stoke Holy Cross as a pub, well it does serve beer… but it also serves some fabulous food. The reigning Norfolk Chef of the Year, Fabio (Miani), is the head chef and his food is fantastic. He really understands how to adapt his menu for gluten-free needs and has gone out of his way to ensure Mrs P is well-catered for.

Do you have a favourite hotel to stay at or visit in Norfolk? There’s again too many to choose from, but I’m going to go for The Norfolk Mead Hotel in Coltishall. Their rooms are stunning and the food in the restaurant is superb. We’ve also managed to secure our first stay at the Neptune in Hunstanton in November which we’re really looking forward to trying.

Why is it important to you to support hospitality businesses in Norfolk? The short answer is that we all love to go out and enjoy great food and drink and have lovely places to stay, so if we’re not supporting them then they won’t stay around. I’m a huge fan of supporting local businesses. My favourite haunts are run by Norfolk people, employing Norfolk people, and showcasing Norfolk produce, and I feel it’s important to play my part in keeping local front of mind and supporting each other.

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