Restaurant Review of Warwick Street Social
Terrace: a lovely outdoor space, one of the biggest in Norwich. This picture taken at twilight only really shows you half the story.
Roots and Toots was invited to dine at Warwick St Social this week, a bright new shooting star in the heart of the Golden Triangle in Norwich. We had a really lovely night and agreed that this place could very easily become a new favourite date night spot for us. However, there was something about our meal I couldn’t quite put my finger. This feeling started around the time I took a sip of my Garden Mojito.
Garden Mojito – smooth and sweetly scented with home-grown mint, thyme, rosemary and muddled with lime and sugar. Topped with Havana 3 year old rum. £7.50
As I lazily sipped my drink, my eyes hungrily scanned the menu. A creatively put together menu with lots of small plates designed for sharing. If you’re after a tradition three-course meal you can also choose from a selection of main dishes with some very contemporary twists including the Modern Fish and Chips: Pan Roast Longshore Cod with Crispy Spiral Potato, Pea Puree and Carrot Ketchup and Tomato Salt. The tempting-looking sides include Cauliflower Cheese with Norfolk Dapple Cheese and Crushed Sweet Potatoes with Coriander and Harissa.
It was food that catered to various tastes without compromising on quality or thought. I took another sip of my mojito. I could list all of the ingredients in my drink but I still felt curious, there was something about this cocktail they weren’t telling me about.
What we ate
Courgette Rosti – Fried courgette & Parmesan, Wigmore cheese snow and shallot “ash” and tazatziki. The fine strips of courgettes woven into a rosti had a really nice bite. Not soggy or greasy as sometimes rostis can be, it had a very soft crunch and was seasoned beautifully – £6
Cod cheeks – Sautéed cod cheeks with wild garlic aioli and roasted lemon. These were incredibly meaty pieces of fish. Very similar to monkfish, without the chewiness. Much more flavoursome than usual cod, which can sometimes have a mildly bitter aftertaste. The soft sautéed spring onions tasted of a green summer on a plate – £6
The crab welsh rarebit – This reminded me of my childhood. My mother used to make things like this at dinner parties, only this portion was enough to fill a decent-sized hole. The brown crab-meat mixed with a rich cheese sauce had a really rich and smoky flavour – £6
Portobello Mushroom WSS Burger – My other half had this. Wild garlic pesto grilled Portobello mushroom with halloumi, hummus, deep-fried giant onion ring, brioche bun and French fries. And the winner of the best veggie option for foodies in Norwich, goes to…
Seriously guys. This was GOOD. I had to restrain myself with cocktail consumption, otherwise I would have asked for a third bite. Every aspect is homemade as you’d expect and bursting with flavour – the pesto was the cherry, the brioche bun just the right squissness and the halloumi not too salty. Veggie win! – £11.50
Eaton Mess – Strawberries and raspberries from the Tacons farm, dehydrated raspberries, mint oil and whipped cream with slate meringue. This was a designer mess! We shared one dessert between two because we were pretty full and I was accused by my other half for being a hogger not a blogger – £6
Every dish had depth of flavour. We made those irritating noises people do when they really enjoy something. Well, I did.
At the end of the meal the Head Chef (Nick) came over to our table and I quizzed him about various ingredients. The spring onions were bugging me. What kind of spring onions are they? What did you cook them in? Just in butter? What kind of butter? I just added them to the end of cooking time with the fish and sautéed them in some butter. Right. They were the best spring onions I’ve ever tasted. Why don’t mine taste anything close to that?
And the courgette fritters, they had a great bite too them – cooked perfectly – but what did you add to them, was it a small amount of harissa I could taste? No, just fresh shredded courgettes with parmesan cheese, lightly fried. Oh I see. How about the yoghurt and cucumber dressing? Just, yoghurt, cucumber and mint.
And so, this pattern kept repeating itself. We spoke for a little while about the produce. Warrick Street Social use the best ingredients and wherever possible they actually grow the vegetables on their farm at the Tacons in Norfolk. Fresh and local produce always makes a noticeable difference in the delivery of taste in any dish. But there was something else much more than this that made the flavour that good. My interrogation of Nick revealed that there weren’t any secret ingredients I was missing. It was only when we arrived home that the penny dropped.
The talent and pedigree of the chefs at WSS was obviously very high, the techniques used, the instinct, knowing when something is good enough and how to improve the quality of taste by using the perfect balance and quantity of ingredients is of course a massive skill. All of this I knew already. But I think it was more than that. I think you can taste the energy that goes into something too.
What was crystal clear from my conversation with Nick was how much he loves his work. He has been working under Daniel Smith, proprietor head chef at the Ingham Swan, The Wilderbeest and Warrick St Social. Daniel incidentally is representing the East of England in the next series of the Great British Menu which starts this autumn. From having worked with and eaten food cooked by Daniel in the past, I could see his influence shine through in Nick too. Nick also shared a very similar passion and straight forwardness that Daniel has. Daniel is one of Norfolk’s best chefs, if not Norfolk’s best chef and he’s such a down to earth guy, when you speak to him it’s clear that there’s no pretentiousness, just raw and simple passion and love for what he does.
Warwick Street Social clearly attracts a cosmopolitan crowd, tipped as an urban meeting place for breakfast, casual daytime dining, diner time get-togethers and much more. If you enjoy the Ingham Swan then you’ll enjoy casual dining at Norwich’s answer of this famous eatery – the influence is unmistakable.
2 Warwick St, Norwich NR2 3LD
Phone: 01603 627687
Thank you again for having us guys! As you can see, we enjoyed ourselves immensely.
If you liked this blog post you might also like to read about the Ingham Swan which features in a piece I wrote recently for Sainsbury’s Magazine – their stay cation issue which reviews local produce and places to eat out in the region.