Last September when Norwich-based restaurant Roots first opened it’s enchanting doors, I was like a big kid at Christmas. Not just because we shared the same name – Roots – one of the options I had been considering calling the food section of my blog, but mainly because we share similar food values – a love of all things made in Norfolk and high quality, unfussy food. And perhaps it was partly a subconscious decision on my part when I finally decided on the name Roots and Toots, because of my love of this local eatery, one which also champions local producers and independent suppliers.
Roots is a celebration of Norfolk produce and its menu uses fresh, local ingredients wherever possible. Within its Grade II listed building, located on Pottergate in the historic Norwich Lanes, Roots offers casual breakfast, brunch and rustic dining downstairs, as well as an upstairs bistro setting for lunch and dinner. As of this week, there’s also a new take-away counter, which offers a delicious selection of reasonably-priced homemade sandwiches, sausage rolls and cakes.
I’ve never had an average meal at Roots. Everything has always been exceptional – this week was no different. This time I took my roots (Mum and Dad), to Roots for lunch. Mum’s actually eaten here before, and this time it was just a flying visit for her, but this was the first time for Dad – Norfolk boy through and through and possibly the region’s biggest sweet tooth.
Between us we had:
North Norfolk Crab Salad, Horseradish and Celeriac, Pink Grapefruit, Quails Eggs and Pea Shoots £10.25. A more than generous portion of fresh, flavoursome crab (most of which is hidden under some pea shoots in the below shot) and served with a beautiful dressing containing a hint of horseradish; the sharp-sweetness of the pink grapefruit offsets the rich flavours perfectly and the quails eggs were the ideal sized accompaniment to this hearty salad.
Tempura Style Courgette Flowers, Stuffed with Blue Cheese & Basil Mousse, Beetroot, Rocket Salad (V) £8.25. Deep-fried courgette flowers are a very popular thing to eat where my mother is from in Malta and Sicily. At Roots, the baby courgettes were served whole, with flower still intact which were stuffed with a delicious filling before being fried in a light batter.
When I cut through the flower, a delicate soft blue cheese and moussey basil filling oozed onto my plate. What a treat.
We shared some of their delicious triple-cooked chips on the side £2.50. Oh my.
For pudding. Brace yourself. We had the Dark Chocolate Strudel, Chilled Vanilla Custard, English Raspberries £6.95. Served with two coffees. This was by far one of the best desserts I’ve eaten all summer. The homemade vanilla custard was light, cool and creamy next to the hot flaky strudel filled with a warm thick chocolate mousse-like filling. (It received a big thumbs up from Dad too, who had finished his half before I was even on my third bite.)
To drink, Dad had the Elderflower Cordial and I had some sparkling Pink Lemonade.
But the dish which took every ounce of willpower for me not to order, was their famous burger, which I first tried earlier this Spring. It came off their menu for a short while but I’m pleased to announce that it’s now back on. (The below picture was taken in March. Yes, I actually archive photography of my favourite meals.)
Chargrilled Rump Burger, Suffolk Brie, Treacle Cured Bacon, Brioche Bun, Baby Leaves £9.95. The creamy local brie with sweet shallots coat the tender, pink beef, which simply melts in your mouth and the sweet-saltiness of the bacon adds texture and smoky flavour. Even the soft brioche bun is produced within a stone’s thrown at a nearby artisan bakery. A must try!
Dishes on my Roots ‘to eat’ list include:
Smoked Salmon Scotch Egg, Pickled Cucumber, Caper, Lemon and Ruby Chard Salad £7.25
Roast Herb Crusted Monkfish, Local Shellfish Risotto, Butter Leeds £18.95
Seared Beef Fillet, 12 Hour Brisket and Horseradish Potato Rosti, Spinach, Port Jus £22.50
And the Rump Burger. I must have that Rump Burger again.
As far as I know, Roots is the only restaurant in Norwich to overtly stay so close to its ‘roots’ in this way. The restaurant takes pride in educating diners on the menu’s food origins. I think that’s such an important part of the dining experience – if you know you’ve ordered an artisan wine produced locally, fish caught in the county or handmade cheese from a nearby village, then you can’t help but feel that added level of anticipation before you take your first bite. It’s certainly food that’s good for the soul.
For two generous mains, a side of chips, two drinks, a desert to share and two coffees, cost around £36. We were absolutely stuffed. Open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner Tuesday – Sunday. For more info go to www.RootsNorwich.co.uk