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The Dining Rooms, Norwich, restaurant review: ‘The new menu is heaven’

Mussels in spicy tomato sauce with ginger, garlic, coriander and lime at the Dining Rooms at Cinema City. Photo by Emily Revell.

Mussels in spicy tomato sauce with ginger, garlic, coriander and lime at the Dining Rooms at Cinema City. Photo by Emily Revell.

Emily Revell.

Will The Dining Rooms’ new menu live up to expectation?

Marinated courgette, beetroot, feta, mint and lemon salad at The Dining Rooms at Cinema City. Photo by Emily Revell. Marinated courgette, beetroot, feta, mint and lemon salad at The Dining Rooms at Cinema City. Photo by Emily Revell.

Food

The Dining Rooms at Cinema City has a new chef and a new menu. With the previous selection having become somewhat stale and a culinary miracle worker promised, I was excited for a change.

At first I can’t say I was overly impressed with the new offerings. Apart from the final removal of the ‘whole baked Camembert with bread’ that had been masquerading as the vegetarian main for the last few months, it all seemed of the same ilk as before.

MORE: The Golden Fleece, Wells-next-the-Sea, restaurant review: “More than worth the wait”

Nonetheless I went along to try, and boy, have they cracked it.

To start I enjoyed the marinated courgette, beetroot and feta salad with a mint and lemon dressing. I always think doing salad well can be difficult but this was balanced to perfection, it was light and tasted subtle and soft. The delicateness of all the flavours came together to create something simple but effective. My other half started with the mussels served in a spicy tomato sauce with ginger, garlic, coriander and lime. The sauce smelt divine, it had a nice kick, although perhaps too much for some. Unfortunately with no extra bowl to remove the shells, most of the sauce was lost until a mountain of waste. Slight room for improvement in execution but the taste was faultless.

Grilled goats cheese with gnoochi, purple sprouting broccoli, celeriac, sorrel and tarragon sauce with toasted pine nuts at The Dining Rooms at Cinema City. Photo by Emily Revell. Grilled goats cheese with gnoochi, purple sprouting broccoli, celeriac, sorrel and tarragon sauce with toasted pine nuts at The Dining Rooms at Cinema City. Photo by Emily Revell.

To follow we enjoyed grilled goat’s cheese with gnocchi, trimmed with purple sprouting broccoli and celeriac drizzled with sorrel and tarragon sauce with toasted pine nuts. This dish combines my favourite things, yet I was apprehensive about the sorrel and tarragon sauce – I’m not to keen on tarragon, but luckily it was not detectable at all. Instead the sauce was light and creamy.

I felt there’s was too much goat’s cheese served, it was overpowering and we ended up putting it to one side. The gnocchi itself was heaven, the broccoli cooked just-right and overall the dish was a delight.

This week my unenthusiastic boyfriend scored the food an eight point five, the same as Farmyard, although he did add it was pushing a nine (which may or may not have had something to do with the two large glasses of wine he consumed).

MORE: Farmyard, Norwich, restaurant review: “I wasn’t overly convinced this contemporary bistro would be all it’s cracked up to be”

To finish up we indulged in a cheese board. The cheeses complemented both each other and the selection of crackers, the chutney was chilli flavoured and it was truly gorgeous. The addition of quince jelly was slightly lost on me, while enjoyable, the taste reminded me of Christmas not spring.

Drink

The Dining Rooms, Norwich Photo: Bill Smith © 2010 The Dining Rooms, Norwich Photo: Bill Smith © 2010

We had a glass of the Pecorino and the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Both were so palatable we had a second glass! There’s an extensive selection of wines, including a choice of three different rosés.

MORE: The Wallow, Norwich, restaurant review: ‘With cheese boards and wine machines I couldn’t have dreamt up a more perfect place’

Interior/Atmosphere

For many years I have loved The Dining Rooms’ courtyard. It’s ideal in summer for a light dinner and thanks to the weather of late we were able to enjoy our meal outside under the fairylights and trees. It always makes me feel like I’m on holiday. Inside, there are dome-like archways and the bar area is complete with impressive old beams. While the interior is perfectly pleasant, my heart lies with alfresco dining. The atmosphere is elegant and classy and guaranteed to make you feel happy.

Service

You'll feel like you're sitting abroad in the courtyard at The Dining Rooms at Cinema City. Photo by Emily Revell. You'll feel like you're sitting abroad in the courtyard at The Dining Rooms at Cinema City. Photo by Emily Revell.

Always friendly faces. Our waitress was delightful and very efficient, we didn’t wait long for food but it was nicely paced. We felt relaxed and took our time. For most of the night we had the courtyard to ourselves, but inside was sufficiently busy, interestingly not really picking up until gone 9pm on a Wednesday.If you are eating outside you have to pay upfront.

Loos

Sharing toilets with Cinema City, they’re clean with lots of cubicles, although if you hit them at the wrong time ladies would get lost in cinema queues!

MORE: Lust & Liquor, Norwich, restaurant review: ‘The place itself is inviting but the experience was subpar’

Parking

Inside the restaurant at The Dining Rooms at Cinema City. Photo by Emily Revell. Inside the restaurant at The Dining Rooms at Cinema City. Photo by Emily Revell.

St Andrew’s multistorey is just down the road, as is Duke Street and Elm Hill. It’s also not a long walk from Castle Mall or even Chapelfield.

Location

Right on the edge of Tombland and just down the road from St Benedict’s Street, The Dining Rooms is placed in the hubbub of Norwich nightlife.

Price

European cheese board, chutney, crackers and quince jelly at The Dining Rooms at Cinema City. Photo by Emily Revell. European cheese board, chutney, crackers and quince jelly at The Dining Rooms at Cinema City. Photo by Emily Revell.

Definitely a more expensive eatery, starters are no less than £8, mains range from £14 to £18 and desserts begin at £7. As a serious bar the wine also boasts a hefty pricetag, some large glasses are as much as £10 but the average is between £7 and £8.

Highlight

Has to be enjoying delicious food in the beautiful courtyard. The portions are justt right, I endedup feeling satisfied but not over-full.

In Summary

The Dining Rooms is a rare find, it’s casual yet luxurious and with the new and improved menu, it’s definitely worth a re-visit.

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