Shopping makes me hungry, it really does. It must be all the strolling, searching, wishing, picking, trying, buying… Not that this would ever stop me from indulging in a little retail therapy of course. I like my shopping sprees way too much, however after rummaging around countless racks, rails and coat hooks my tummy usually tells me it’s time to have a sit down and fuel up before part II. If you’ve come with friends it’s probably a good idea to have a sit down and actually chat and catch up on things.
Do you know what’s even better than a simple pit stop to refuel during your shopping adventure? A very stylish yet affordable restaurant serving delicious food and with a very pretty view on the city.
That my friends, is exactly what you need.
And where’s good you may ask? Well, I actually know just the place! Benji’s. At Jarrold’s. You know that family-owned department store in the city centre of Norwich? The one with the pillars at the front and the gorgeous floor to ceiling windows. That one. Get in there, take the escalator to the 1st floor (which so happens to be womenswear by the way. Another place you want to make sure you fully explore) and then you’ll see it… Benji’s restaurant!
It’s been recently refurbished and I really like the new look. The colour palette is all white, taupe and wood. It looks very sophisticated but very warm and welcoming at the same time. Grab one of the tables by the window to check out the lovely view I was telling you about.
The menu has been given a spruce up by Chef Nick Harris, whom I was lucky enough to meet thanks to Jarrold‘s who invited me and a handful of other bloggers to sample food from the new menu. Nick used to work in the West End of London prior to joining Jarrolds and he’s cooked for the Queen and the Prime Minister as well! Needless to say I was jumping up and down with excitement – my home country of France, recognise Chefs as gods!
We started the evening by tasting a series of canapés served with bubbles. Look how pretty they are! The first ones were my favourites.
Nick very kindly did a cooking demonstration to show us how he makes the main that we were going to taste later in the evening. He explained how he only uses local produces and producers to create all of the dishes on the menu and of course this means that the menu changes regularly due to products going out of season. So if you like any of the dishes in the photos below, make sure to stop by within the next few weeks!
While our 3-course meal was being prepared, we all had a wander around the then-empty Jarrold
, marvelling at clothes, homeware and their wonderful deli on the ground floor. Do you ever wonder what it’s like to be let loose in an empty department store at night? Well, I have the answer. It’s as awesome as it sounds!
But let’s not lose our focus here, after a saunter round the kitchenware department we came back upstairs, the starters had been lined up and it looked a.m.a.z.i.n.g! Picture this; seafood platters with crayfish, peppered mackerel, scallops, avocado, pickled vegetables, and seaweed crackers. There were also impressive meat boards with mini glazed pork sausages, apple sauce, ham hock, warm Satay chicken, chorizo and red pepper dip and last but not least, we were also served vegetarian garden boxes with hummus, sweet and sour aubergine, radishes, cherry tomatoes, chargrilled vegetables and flat breads. We all came back for more at least twice!
We were there presented with our main: pan fried sea bass with samphire salsa verdi and slow roasted tomatoes, which Chef Nick had whipped up in front of us earlier in the evening. For me the whole dish really came together thanks to the salsa verdi, which is the best thing I’ve been given to taste in a really long time! It accompanied the sea bass beautifully, which was seasoned to perfection. I’m salivating just thinking about it!
By that point, I was full but let’s face it I still had room for the goats cheese and chocolate tasting we had been promised. The goats cheese was by Fielding Cottage
, a Norfolk based family business, I very much enjoyed the Wensum White in particular. I asked Chef Nick for a cheeky tip as to how to serve a cheese like this one and he recommended an olive paste like tapenade or simply some olives on the side.
The chocolates were by Dolce Momento
, which was created by a Norwich-based Brazilian and Englishman. I tried the milk chocolate and it was buttery smooth and soft. A mouthful of heaven! Dropping Christmas gift ideas here… [hint…hint]. All products are of course available for purchase from Jarrold
We all left content, full and happy, delighted by the amazing food we had sampled that night, goodie bag in hand and ready to blog about it all.
Thanks ever so much to the lovely Jarrold team for inviting Weekend Wonders to this great evening! We had a fantastic time.