Review: Bishop’s Dining Room

Bishop's Dining Room and Wine Bar was praised by notoriously picky food critic Jay Rayner. COLIN WILSON says he's a good judge as he enjoys his visit.

Located on St Andrew's Hill in Norwich, Bishop's Dining Room and Wine Bar is a treasure waiting to be discovered.

Despite walking past during the day and having friends regale us of their positive experiences, we had yet to visit until a Friday night just a few weeks ago.

Upon entering the bar, we were warmly greeted by owner Alex Tranquillo – originally from Lake Como in Italy, Alex has worked in establishments such as the Savoy Grill in London (in the pre-Gordon Ramsay days) and here at Bishop's, before becoming its current owner.

The restaurant is small and intimate – it feels like you are actually in someone's dining room – with precise and detailed table settings and a friendly, welcoming and relaxing atmosphere. With the selected starters of Cromer Crab, with fennel and courgette ribbons, pea and lemon dressing and Twice Baked Binham Blue and Thyme Souf-fl� with a surprisingly good accompaniment of frozen grape and poppy seed relish. Both were accompanied by warm bread rolls and all polished off with aplomb, although the souffl� would have been further enhanced with a touch more of the Binham Blue.

For main courses we opted for a pan-seared Fillet of Sea Bass, served with wild mushrooms, broad beans and Jer-sey Royals in a saffron and cockle broth and the seasonal Vegetable and Norfolk Dapple Strudel with roasted pi-mento – both were beautifully presented and tasted just as good. The only disappointment was the side order of seasonal vegetables (an extra �4.50), which on this occasion consisted of more new potatoes and curly kale – not particularly inspiring and with our main selections probably not really needed.

Dessert is never to be missed – I believe all good menus should actually entice you to the final course before you've even selected your starter. At Bishop's it wasn't 'whether' but 'which' – as they all sounded so good. Finally we plumped for Chocolate and Praline Torte with cherry and basil compote and a Baked Norfolk Lavender Custard Tart with Norfolk berry sauce, which should have just gone on and on, it was so scrumptious.

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At Bishop's a set evening menu is �26.95 for two courses and �29.95 for three courses and while there is a very extensive wine list to choose from, on our visit Alex expertly recommended choices by the glass to accompany each course. If you're after a lunchtime treat then at �12.50 for two courses and �15.50 for three, Bishop's also offers another outstanding set menu. Most definitely a place not to be missed.

Bishop's Dining Room and Wine Bar

St Andrew's Hill


01603 767321

t Open: Tues-Sat 12pm- 2.30pm, 6pm-9.45pm

t Prices: Lunch �12.50 two courses, �15.50 three courses/evening �26.95 two courses, �29.95 three courses

t Vegetarian options: At least one starter and main.

t Wheelchair access: Yes, though St Andrew's Hill is steep and cobbled.


Observer restaurant critic and sometime Masterchef contributor Jay Rayner recently visited. Never known to mince his words, it must have been a relief for the restaurant, that he was generally impressed.

Indeed he went so far as to suggest the restaurant is a model for the type of local eatery we should be proud of. He concluded: 'For a long time when people talked about restaurants in Norwich, they discussed a place called Adlard's, a local landmark where chef David Adlard fought the good fight. I am willing to bet that those of you outside of Norwich will not have heard of Bishop's. This, it seems to me, is a healthy thing. Britain can only properly lay claim to having a blossoming food culture when it is full of good restaurants you haven't heard of rather than scattered with a few good restaurants you have.'