When I was a kid the main reason you headed to Norwich Market was to buy a cone of chips, a bunch of grapes or a piece of fresh fish. These days the Market has become a bit of a food-lover’s paradise, especially if you take a stroll down Row B which I think should be renamed, Foodie Row: Here you’ll find the tastiest artisan bread, the best vegan take-away food, an impressive selection of herbs and spices, freshly brewed coffee and gourmet condiments. Of course, there’s nothing quite like an egg bap from Reggie’s with a strong cup of tea on a Saturday morning or some timeless comfort food from the third-generation Mushy Pea Stall.
The rest of the market is equally as tempting, offering a wide selection of goodies including (probably) the county’s widest selection of locally-made and European cheeses not to mention the best fish and chips, open not wrapped, this side of the coast. You won’t need to hunt down this little lot from the four corners of the City. Nope. There’s only one place you need to head to in Norwich.
It was really difficult to pick just 10 but here we go, in no particular order:
1) For the Best Free-From Produce?
Head to….Norwich Market: Norfolk Kind Foods Gluten-Free Bakers: Row F
A relatively new spot offering dairy and gluten-free baked goods, all handmade within 4 miles of the stall. Norfolk Kind Foods is run by a life-long vegetarian and his coeliac wife, who offer a wide selection of gluten and dairy-free pastries, cakes, breads and other baked produce. The company has plans to open a larger-scale bakery based in Hellesdon over the coming weeks. Even if you don’t have to eat gluten-free, you’ll want to swing by here for some treats. Vegan options available.
2) For the Best “Chip Shop” Chips in the City?
Head to….Norwich Market: Ron’s: Row D
All the traditional chippies on Norwich Market serve up a fantastic chip to grease your lips, made from local spuds and frying fresh fish from our famous shores, you can’t go very wrong. If I was held at gunpoint with a chip fork and I had to pick one, my favourite chippie on the market would have to be Ron’s located towards the top-end of Row D. As teenagers, we’d often head here during our lunch break and pay something ridiculous like 30p for a tray of chips. The prices still seem to date back to the 1990s and in my humble opinion, Ron’s, established in 1953, serve the best you’ll find in the city centre. Especially when consumed at the top of the market, perched by the war memorial and overlooking the candy-coloured stall rooftops, feeding the seagulls and pigeons. Not that you’ll want to part with these chips, mind.
3) For the Best Bread in the City Centre?
Head to…Norwich Market: Norwich Providore: Row B
Baked locally, I love the artisan bread and baked goods from this stall. There aren’t many, if any, artisan bakeries in Norwich city centre, although a great one on the outskirts, making Norwich Providore Norwich’s only artisan bakery. Their baguette, ciabatta and (vegetarian) sausage rolls are all firm favourites. They also do a mean focaccia. I blogged about these talented bakers a while back – here’s the full blog post for more.
4) For the Best Vegan Take-Away Food in Norwich?
Head to…Norwich Market: Bia Kitchen: Row B
Opened very recently, this diner run by a pair of very clever vegan cooks, serves “on the go” breakfast, brunch and lunch as well as cold brew bottled coffee and authentic State-side sodas such as root beer. Their menu changes weekly and dishes have included their already-famous Pulled Jack Bap consisting of BBQ pulled Jack, red cabbage slaw on a grilled toasted bun; Katsu Curry with tofu; and Kofte Kebab with homemade flatbread and a harissa sauce. The other morning I also tried their breakfast ciabatta bap with vegan baconaise, scrambled tofu and a veggie sausage pattie. Incredible! Everything is homemade, healthy, creatively concocted – and vegan! – although you wouldn’t know it. They’re magicians these two. Head here for healthy and hearty vegan fare at its very best.
5) For the Best Coffee in the Quirkiest Setting?
Head to…Norwich Market: Little Red Roaster: Row B
Escape the hustle and bustle and head for the epicentre of the market for a top-notch coffee or brew. Little Red Roaster’s pop-up coffee shop here on Norwich Market is the smallest of Little Red Roaster’s three coffee houses in Norwich but perhaps the quirkiest for its location. I love it here – you can perch yourself on one of the bar stools and enjoy some terrific people watching.
6) For the Best Local and Seasonal Fruit and Veg?
Well, there’s two for this category…
Head to…Norwich Market: Green Grocers Mike, Debs and Sons: Row B
My favourite fruit and veg stall is at the entrance of row B. Run by a lovely family: Mike, Debs and their two sons, not only does this stall always have a great selection of seasonal produce, local varieties and specialty ingredients but the family are a lovely, chatty bunch. Great veg, great chat – two crucial ingredients every market needs!
And for some super organic veg and some great specialist groceries, head to Folland Organics up Row A:
7) For the Best Oriental Produce?
Head to…Norwich Market: The Oriental Express Shop: Row H
For any mutual Asian food fanatics out there, this is where you will find everything and anything you could ever wish for! I love this particular Asian food outlet in Norwich which spans over three different market stalls because they stock Morning Glory, a delicious green stir-fry vegetable used in Vietnamese cooking – great simply stir-fried with garlic, chilli, soy sauce and veg oil – and which I became addicted to on my travels a couple of years ago. They also sell a great brand of panko breadcrumbs, katsu curry sauce, various gyoza dumplings, char siu buns and a wide range of Japanese noodles.
8) For the Best Cheese in Norwich?
Head to…Norwich Market: The Cheese Man: Row C
You’ll find the widest selection of chesses, locally produced, regional and European, here at The Cheese Man. They also sell a great selection of chutneys too. My favourite local cheese you’ll find here is produced by Fielding Cottage, their soft goats’ cheese is pure poetry spread on baguette, a dollop dropped into hot soup or married with caramelised onions on pizzas. It’s by far the creamiest and smoothest goats’ cheese I’ve tasted. The French aint got anything on these guys.
9) For the Best Pizza in Norwich?
Norwich Market (well, on the outskirts of the market! Top left, next door to the Sir Garnet Pub).
The new wood-fired pizza bar “Brick”, on the edge of Norwich Market serves the BEST porcini pizza. I can’t actually think of a better version I’ve had, not even in the Old Country. The interior is urban-chic, simple and unfussy and although the pizza menu is fairly straightforward, each pizza is topped with perfection. The mushroom pizza we had was bursting with flavour: the perfect thin smoky base straight from the wood fire, fresh plump porcini mushrooms and wild rocket for a crisp and peppery contrast. We always ask for extra mozzarella too. Err, so much yum! They do take away too.
10) For the Best Herbs and Spices in Norwich?
Head to…Norwich Market: Herbs & Spices: Row B
This place is an institution and has been for four decades. A family-run business, you’ll find a plethora of herbs, spices and other specialist ingredients here including many spices which are hard to track down on the high-street, including amchur (dried mango powder) used in Indian cooking, sumac (ground fruit) used in North African fare and ammatto seeds for South American dishes.