Norwich: The Waffle House
If you've never visited The Waffle House because you're not sure if you like waffles, it's time to pay a visit, because you will. STACIA BRIGGS celebrates a restaurant that treats and meat-eaters as equals.
I'm not a militant vegetarian – I don't froth with fury if the person I'm eating with wants to indulge in pleasures of the flesh, but it is really nice when they don't.
Of course it helps if the restaurant you're visiting has vegetarian options which could tempt even the most ardent meat-eater: The Waffle House is a case in point.
Yes, there's meat on the menu – the ham with cheese sauce and mushrooms, from �7.30, seems to be everyone's favourite – and there's fish (but anyone that knows me knows better than to ever choose tuna if I'm within 100 feet of them – as far as I'm concerned, it's a direct nasal assault).
Vegetarians, however, will rejoice at the choice, from garlic mushrooms and cheese sauce, from �7.25, to hummous and avocado with wild rocket, sun-blushed tomatoe and olives on a poppy seed waffle with sweet chilli dressing, from �6.70, or vegetarian curry, from �7.10, there's a world of flavourful options.
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Having eschewed a starter in fear of not being able to eat The Best Chocolate Mousse In the World after my main course, I chose the oriental vegetable cashew stir fry, from �6.80, a seasonal vegetable stir fry with lemongrass, ginger and chilli and served with toasted cashew nuts and sesame seeds.
I used to have a regular debate with a colleague about the king of the nut world where I argued that cashews beat Brazil nuts into an insipid paste and he argued the latter – he should eat this dish and admit defeat once and for all.
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My friend decided to try the authentic Greek salad, from �7.05, with kalamata olives, crumbly feta cheese, vine-ripened tomatoes, cucumber and caramelised red onion chutney drizzled with herb-infused extra virgin olive oil.
A strange choice for someone who is a self-confessed salad hater, perhaps, but salads at The Waffle House do have a habit of being far preferable to those you find at many other restaurants. For a start, the dressings are always superb.
The salad hater ate all his salad, with relish (or chutney, to be precise).
Although I do love the main courses at The Waffle House - a lot - I have to confess that my heart will always belong to the dessert menu.
I wish I could say that, in the interests of a thorough review, I chose a different dessert to the one that I have always chosen, without fail, for the past 20 or so years.
If I did, I would be lying. I had chocolate mousse, waffle-free and in a bowl, with ice-cream and chopped nuts, �5.90 – of course I did.
My friend had a banoffee waffle with sliced bananas, toffee sauce and sprinkled with flaked chocolate, �4.25. I did make him taste some of the mousse, though, and I saw a flash of envy in his eyes – he's only human.
Everything at The Waffle House tastes market-fresh: the menu isn't huge, although it's supplemented with a regularly changing specials board, but I always worry when I see a huge menu. I'd prefer a restaurant to do fewer dishes brilliantly than a plethora of dishes half-heartedly.
Another lovely meal in this small, but perfectly formed, restaurant. Any chance of offering a takeaway service on the chocolate mousse?
THE WAFFLE HOUSE
St Giles Street
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-10pm, Sun 11am-10pm
Prices: Starters from �5.35, desserts from �2.55
Vegetarian options: Really good ones. So speaks a vegetarian.
Wheelchair access: Yes