Norwich: Appleyard & Co
Global dishes and the best of local ingredients — the humble sandwich, soup and salad have never been so exciting. SIMON PARKIN is impressed at Appleyard and Co.
It's always a cause for celebration when a new culinary venture opens in Norwich, particularly if it's offering something new. And when it's the brainchild of young entrepreneurs with bags of enthusiasm and passion of good food it is particularly welcome.
Appleyard and Co, an alternative caf�, restaurant, wine bar and art gallery, which also happens to sells real ales, which has recently opened in Exchange Street, fits both categories.
As that long-winded description suggests it's a venture that wears several hats and as such plans to be more than just another trendy caf�.
Behind the venture are budding entrepreneurs Daniel Swift Gibbs and Josh Cadwallader, both 26, who have returned to the city where they went to university after spending the years since graduation travelling the globe and sampling some of the world's cuisines.
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The idea is to use some of their culinary experiences to carve out a niche that they hope will attract others who shares their passion.
'We hope there's a market for something a little bit different,' said Daniel. 'This is the type of place we would like to go to. There are a lot of places directly aimed at students but maybe not so many places for people our age. It's a place where we would like to go to, and hopefully other people will as well.'
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They've certainly chosen a great venue, a bright, spacious city centre location with huge windows that are perfect to watch the world go by — or have the world watch you.
The d�cor is minimal, but relaxed. Downstairs is the informal caf� dominated by the huge wooden counter used to display dishes, including on occasion a whole cured leg of ham. Upstairs is more like a restaurant with more tables. The walls of both double as a gallery and there are plans for exhibitions showcasing collections of local and national art and design.
The menu rotates daily and monthly. It's small and select, limited to just a handful of different gourmet sandwiches, a choice between a meaty or vegetarian homemade soups and some really interesting salads.
In my experience it is always a good sign when the menu fits easily on a small card. What you lose in choice you usually more than gain in freshly made food making the most of seasonal ingredients.
That is certainly the case here.
Everything is made on the premises and there is some innovative cooking going on — to say they're just producing sandwiches, soups and salads they put many full blown restaurants to shame.
How about Vietamese Tofu Banh Mi on tiger bread, Pastrami Reuben on home-made caraway bread or the Scuttlebutt, a selection of beets, radishes, capers, feta and garlic aioli on ciabatta; or salads of artichoke, grapefruit and frisee, Ghanaian groundnut or American Chop salad?
The soups take in everything from Szechuan shredded pork to Cromer Crab Bisque to Lamb Tagine and Italian Sausage.
Josh spent time in Spain and his business partner visited New York and both influences are present, but there are plenty of local delicacies too. 'Quite a lot of our menu is based on a fusion of New York deli-style sandwiches and Spanish-style tapas, but we are doing it with local food,' he said.
The Lamb Kofta ciabatta sandwich we tried was excellent, spicy but with cooling fragrant fresh mint and yoghurt on top and a sprinkling of pistachio nuts.
The best thing is that almost all the dishes are under �4, which is pretty impressive, whether you're eating in or taking away.
Add to that the fact that Josh is a coffee expert and a good selection of wines and Norfolk real ales — served from the barrel in front of you, and I think we've found a new favourite haunt.
APPLEYARD & CO
t Prices: Sandwiches from about �3.80, soups �3.60, salads �4
t Vegetarian options: Good selection considering it's a small menu, plus vegan options
t Wheelchair access: Yes downstairs, no toilet