Norwich and York are quite similar cities in many ways. Both have remains of ancient city walls (York’s are better!), both have thriving real ale scenes (Norwich can have that one), both have thriving bar billiards leagues (tenuous, but related to my interests. Sorry.) and both are blessed with some lovely places to eat. On a trip to Norwich recently to visit a good friend (the drive to Norwich is enough of a pain as to be only made to visit good friends, merely average friends need not apply) we explored a few different dining options before settling on The Iron House.
Before arriving at our dinner location, we stuck our collective head into a couple of Norwich’s most esteemed pubs. No trip to Norwich is complete without a trip to the marvellous Fat Cat so we called in there before making our way to the Plasterers Arms, which has a picture of Bill Murray dressed as an admiral, a bar billiards table, excellent beers and a tempting selection of pizzas that were tricky to ignore based on their scent. With our appetite duly whetted we took a stroll across to our dinner venue.
The Iron House building has offered food to the people of Norwich for hundreds of years as a bakery and pub before being restored to its current form as a restaurant in 2011. The sympathetic restoration has shot it through with interesting features and made it a quiet, relaxing place to eat.
For starters we chose roasted celeriac and smoked salmon with cream cheese paupiette while for larger plates went for sea bream with hot tartare sauce and buttermilk tempura halloumi along with a couple of sides to flesh things out.
Service was friendly and efficient, with our wine arriving quickly enough, while the room filled up with a large party that didn’t distract from our service. The smoked salmon starter was superb with the classic beetroot and salmon combination given body through varying textures and well judged garnish. The roast celeriac delivered a similar variety of textures, offering crunch, velvet and roast morsels alongside a few mushrooms that very successfully tempered the celeriac sweetness.
Main courses hit the spot too with the sea bream in particular living up to its full potential atop a bed of new potatoes in a well judged tartare sauce that didn’t let capers steal the show. The halloumi was billed as a medium plate so not overwhelmingly portioned, but well matched with fresh lemon and crushed peas.
With our appetites challenged by a slightly misjudged ordering of extra sides, only one dessert came to the table. A selection of chocolate morsels including a spectacular piece of brownie surrounded a pannacotta (wobble intact) perched on a lovely chocolate crumb. With the bad news only coming to around £30 a head including drinks, I’ve no hesitation in recommending the Iron House if you find yourself in Norwich, a thoroughly lovely place to eat.