Norwich: The Dining Rooms
A few years ago DEREK JAMES went for a meal at Cinema City in Norwich and came away rather disappointed. Last Sunday he returned and discovered times had changed.
Wandering around Norwich on a Sunday can be a frustrating experience. Some places are open while others remain shut.
It must be a tough decision for local traders - shops or restaurants - to take a gamble and open or not. Who knows how many people will be about?
We were looking for somewhere to have lunch last Sunday and several places we thought of were either shut or packed to the brim,
We ended up outside Cinema City and decided to take a look.
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I have always had a soft spot for this wonderful old building but the last meal we had there, a while ago now, wasn't up to much. The food and the service was poor.
This time around it was very different. I loved it - and so did my wife and daughter.
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The bar and dining rooms at Cinema City offer something for everyone. You can sit in the restaurant, be more casual in the bar or use the attractive courtyard.
Wherever you sit you get a real sense of history in Suckling House and Stuart Hall which have been part of the fabric of city life for so long.
They say that the oldest parts of Suckling House which survive today, the Great Hall and the vaulted bays, were built between 1325 and 1348.
Two members of the mustard family, Ethel and Helen Colman, bought it in the 1920s, with the intention of restoring it and opening it to the public.
Stuart Hall, designed by the brilliant architect Edward Boardman, was built and then opened by the Duke of York in 1925.
We have a lot to thank those Colman Sisters for.
Cinema City came along in the late 1970s and major renovations have resulted in the building we have today - a Norwich gem offering a feast of entertainment.
The welcome we received when we walked into the bar was a warm one. It was a little chilly in the courtroom so we decided to sit in the bar to have our lunch.
The lunch menu comprises of a tempting selection of starters, sandwiches and light bites and it is good to see local produce such as Hevingham chicken, Norfolk Smoked smoked dapple cheese and how about a Norfolk reared steak sandwich with, what else, Colman's mustard and skinny fries.
My roast pork, was excellent. The vegetables were fresh and tasty. It was a delicious meal which looked good and tasted better.
My wife said her dressed Cromer crab with Elvedon new potato salad was one of the best she had eaten in recent times. A real taste of Norfolk.
I think it fair to say my daughter was almost speechless when her seafood cocktail arrived. This was a Kilner jar stuffed with mouthwatering treats including king prawns, shrimps, salmon, langoustine and crayfish.
The food was top class. The two fish courses were �11.95 each while my roast was �9.95. Good value for dishes which had been prepared with some style.
We were so full we were not going to have a dessert until I spotted ice-cream from the dear old Lakenham Creamery on the menu. The Rolls-Royce of ice cream
How could I resist? It tasted better than ever.
Our Sunday lunch in the bar came to �45.30, with drinks, and was excellent value, Our compliments to the chef and to the staff who made us welcome. A talented young man playing the guitar added to the atmosphere.
Cinema City is a great advertisement for Norwich. An ancient building at the heart of the 21st century entertainment scene.
I think Ethel and Helen Colman would approve - and they would be delighted to see the family mustard on the menu.
THE BAR AND DINING ROOMS
St Andrew's Street
<t> Open: Daily from 12pm-9pm (bar snacks 4pm-5pm)
Prices: From �5 for a sandwich to �20 for a main course. A three course meal from �20 is available Monday to Thursday after 5pm.
<t> Vegetarian options: Yes
<t> Wheelchair access: Yes