As a self-confessed ‘foodie’ I am so grateful to live in a city like Norwich. Norwich has an amazing food scene, one that is constantly changing and evolving. Sure, we have had a few casualties in the last year, most notably for me was Jamie’s Italian. But we have also had a huge surge of new and exciting restaurants, including The Ivy and The Cosy Club.
Norwich hosts many top-notch chain restaurants but we are also lucky enough to have a wide array of independent and local restaurants too. Restaurants like The Last Wine Bar and The Waffle House have stood the test of time and are quintessentially ‘Norwich’. Norwich is a foodie’s city, and that speaks to the amount of eateries in the City Centre that not only do amazing business but have been stood proud for so many years.
Even as vegans it can be a hard to decide where to take ourselves come a date night or night out. More often than not, I find myself gravitating towards St Benedicts Street. I used to joke that if Prince of Wales was the destination for your twenties, then St Benedicts is certainly the place to be for your thirties (and beyond)! It is lined with amazing restaurants and bars and has a wonderful atmosphere – particularly on a Friday or Saturday night
Over the last couple of weeks Bear and I have made a couple of visits to St Benedicts Street for dinner. Firstly to The Tipsy Vegan – a relatively new but ever popular restaurant and cocktail bar, and secondly, a visit to a chain- favourite Pizza Express.
The Tipsy Vegan
It was our third visit to The Tipsy Vegan; both of our first two visits were in the restaurants infancy and I remember enjoying the food but not being blown away by it. So when my husband suggested it for a date night, I was a little hesitant- but we booked a table for a Friday night.
We arrived at 8pm and were shown to a table by the window. The restaurant itself has had some improvements since our last visit. The rickety round wooden tables and little wooden chairs, have thankfully been replaced and they have some lovely booths on their mezzanine level. Round the corner, opposite the bar the rest of the restaurant was full. As far as décor goes it is relatively simple but it’s warm and inviting and I was pleasantly surprised by the overall improvements.
The menu looked fantastic… and we had a job deciding what to order. The Tipsy Vegan offers many tapas style small plates and main dishes, so you can either share or go big! As we were struggling so much, we decided to choose three small dishes to share for our starter and then to have our own main. We don’t have much of a sweet tooth but couldn’t resist a dessert to share to finish the meal.
Bite Sized Smoked Tofu in Beer Batter on a bed of Wakame & Pickled Ginger Salad with Miso Dressing
Saffron Risotto Balls coated in Crispy Pumpkin Seed Breadcrumbs with House Pesto
Polenta & Pear Salad
Roasted Polenta & Caramelised Pear with Mixed Leaves, Pomegranate Seeds & Vegan Honey Drizzle
Seitan Steak Sandwich
Sliced Pepper Seitan Steak, Bearnaise Sauce & Sautéed Kale. Served with Parmesan & Herb Chips & Sweet Chilli Mayo
Crispy Breaded Seitan Escalope served with Hasselback Potatoes, Sautéed Green Beans & Sauerkraut Slaw
Banoffee Julep Cup
With Bourbon Caramel & Coconut Cream
The food was absolutely delicious, after being underwhelmed on our first two visits I was so impressed with the improvements to the restaurant, the menu and the food. The dishes have been honed and honestly The Tipsy Vegan is now offering something you really can’t get anywhere else in the city. In short- inventive vegan food that champions plant-based recipes in a hearty yet sophisticated way.
The following week we were out again and once more heading to St Benedicts Street – this time to visit an established chain restaurant, Pizza Express. The restaurant has a modern and sharp atmosphere, the familiar Pizza Express tables and crockery sit against an industrial bare brick aesthetic. This makes it really stand out, certainly in comparison to its Forum based sister restaurant.
Of course, this Pizza Express is benefiting from that St Benedicts’ magic…
The restaurant was busy but not bursting which was a welcome sight, we were shown to our table and started to look over their extensive vegan menu. A specific vegan menu is always appreciated and can make such a difference as a diner- not having to hunt and sift through all the ‘what you could have won’ options to find what you can eat.
Pizza Express has been growing their vegan menu steadily since last year, and it is brimming with choices. Even better, are lots of ‘new’ additions- which to me demonstrates how committed Pizza Express is in providing an innovative and varying vegan menu and I am all in for it!
Vegan Dough Balls
A Pizza Express Classic. Served with houmous and pestorissa- a harissa spiced tomato dip
(two rounds as someone didn’t want to share with me!)
Classic Base. Pine kernels, red onion, baby capers, black olives, sultanas, vegan mozzarella alternative and tomato
NEW Vegan Mezze
Romana Base. Smoked chilli, chargrilled aubergine, tomato, sundried tomato harissa, garlic oil, spicy jalapeno and roquito peppers finished with rocket and creamy houmous
I love supporting local and independent restaurants like The Tipsy Vegan, but of the many chain options out there, Pizza Express has something special. It really does stands up to some of its, arguably more dynamic independent counterparts. It is so reasonably priced but delivers quality every time, I can honestly say I have never been disappointed. The service was friendly too and it can’t be underestimated what a difference that can make to an evening.
So next time you are heading out for dinner or wondering where to go, do yourself a favour and go to St Benedicts Street- you will be spoilt for choice and I am sure not disappointed with what is on offer…