Norwich: Cinema City Dining Rooms

It was a meal that failed to live up to its surroundings. Mind you, the surroundings at Cinema City are magnificent and quite unique.

Derek James

It was a meal that failed to live up to its surroundings.

Mind you, the surroundings are magnificent and quite unique.

This is no run-of-the-mill restaurant chain, it is the much-talked about new-look Cinema City, a place that is buzzing in one of the most attractive and ancient quarters of Norwich.

It has been given a new lease of life but my wife and I left the restaurant slightly disappointed by the three course meal that we had paid more than £65 for.

This place should not just be good in today's highly competitive market with so many restaurants now tempting us to sample their delights.

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It needs to a special but in our opinion it didn't quite come up to scratch when we visited.

I had wanted to book a table for 7.30pm on a Saturday but was told this was not possible as the second sitting was at 8.30pm so we booked for 6.30pm.

This was the first time I had been in Cinema City since the major refurbishment and the place is looking really good.

There is something that money can't buy when it comes to “modernisation” schemes and that is atmosphere.

Cinema City has plenty of that. It is a welcoming, friendly and popular spot with a good-sized bar, a courtyard and a restaurant.

The oldest independent art house cinema now has the splendid Dining Rooms, complete with vaulted ceilings in the old buttery, pantry and kitchen when it was home to the Suckling family.

The whole place just oozes history and the bar - the old Great Hall - is a popular meeting place.

So we were both looking forward to our first visit to the Dining rooms.

A glass of reasonable red wine came in at £4.65 each.

For starters I had crispy duck pancake with cucumber, sesame and hoisin sauce at £5.75. I enjoyed it. It turned out to be the highlight of the meal as far I was concerned.

My wife started with Cley smoked salmon with capers, lemon and brown bread priced at £5.50. They had forgotten to bring the bread so we had to ask for it. The salmon was good.

I picked the Woodforde's braised pork shank, bacon, mushroom jus, mash and spinach at £13.50. For me it was ruined by too much jus - it was almost a bowl of rich soup.

My wife's whole lemon sole came with samphire and new potatoes. We know samphire is salty, it would be, but she is a Norfolk girl who has eaten it all her life - and this was just too salty.

Her first choice pudding, strawberry sorbet was not available but the chocolate tarte, was delicious.

My ice creams were a let down.

I asked for a selection. The vanilla was okay but I had no idea what the other flavours were. They turned out to be ginger and cinnamon, not my favourite flavours and they all seemed to have ice particles in them.

The staff were helpful and friendly. We both thought the place was delightful with a good atmosphere and it was a shame we were disappointed with the food.

As we were leaving we spotted some crab and seafood fish cakes from the Pre & Post-Theatre menu arriving at another table.

“That looks lovely,” said my wife - and it did.

Perhaps we were unlucky with our choices.

t The Dining Rooms, Cinema City, St Andrew's Street, Norwich, 07504 356378

t Prices: Starters from £5.25, mains from £11.50, desserts £5.50.

t Wheelchair access: Yes


Food: **

Service: ***

Atmosphere: ***

Family: ***