'More proud than ever': First look inside Benedicts after refurbishment

The Benedicts restaurant team.

Louis Bailey, assistant restaurant manager, Katja Bainbridge, owner, Richard Bainbridge, owner, and Luara Santos, restaurant manager, at Benedicts on St Benedicts Street in Norwich. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Benedicts has won stacks of awards for its top notch food but now the restaurant is looking to wow customers with its brand new look.

The St Benedicts Street restaurant collaborated with a handful of local businesses as part of the transformation.

Richard and Katja Bainbridge opened Benedicts in July 2015 and it is a modern British restaurant that aims to make fine dining accessible.

Richard Bainbridge, chef patron of Benedicts on St Benedicts Street in Norwich.

Richard Bainbridge, chef patron of Benedicts on St Benedicts Street in Norwich. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Chef Mr Bainbridge won BBC2's Great British Menu the same year and he has worked in the industry since he was 16, starting at Morston Hall under Galton Blackiston.

But when the couple first opened Benedicts they had to borrow money from family and re-mortgage their house, so could only afford a lick of paint.

As the bookings began to flood in, they did minor changes and then three years ago they gutted and transformed the kitchen.

The main dining area in Benedicts. 

The main dining area in Benedicts. - Credit: Danielle Booden

But their dream was to make the dining areas their own too.

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Mr Bainbridge, 39, said: "Even before the pandemic we planned the refurbishment for 2022.

"We thought about whether to still do it as it is a difficult time but we have worked so hard so we should have a restaurant we are proud of with our identity. 

Richard Bainbridge, chef patron of Benedicts, won BBC2's Great British Menu in 2015.

Richard Bainbridge, chef patron of Benedicts, won BBC2's Great British Menu in 2015. - Credit: Danielle Booden

"It was paramount that we used local companies and the main goal was to create a unique and timeless space."

This has included a new bar created by The Annex in Norwich using East Anglian bog oak wood, which was also turned into knife handles by Braydeston Knives.

Other changes include new flooring, renovated toilets and the upstairs private dining room revamped.

The private upstairs dining room in Benedicts. 

The private upstairs dining room in Benedicts. - Credit: Danielle Booden

The restaurant reopened on February 15 after being closed since the start of January.

Mr Bainbridge added: "Before the pandemic I was on the verge of burning out and had almost fallen out of love with it, but when lockdown happened I turned it into a positive and it has brought the love back.

The private upstairs dining room in Benedicts. 

The private upstairs dining room in Benedicts. - Credit: Danielle Booden

"I am more proud of Benedicts than I have ever been."

Benedicts is open Tuesday to Saturday 5pm to 9pm (also lunch 12pm to 2pm on Fridays and Saturdays) - book at restaurantbenedicts.com

The refurbished ladies toilets in Benedicts. 

The refurbished ladies toilets in Benedicts. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Fancy trying one of Richard's dishes at home?

Although many of Mr Bainbridge's dishes are not to be attempted by the faint-hearted, others are a bit simpler. 

One is a salted plum conserve and all you need is 500g of plums and 40g of sea salt.

To create the Japanese-inspired dish simply halve the plums and put them in a jar.

Leave the plums in a dark place and flip them every other day or so.

After two weeks they will be ready to serve. 

You can either eat them as is or run them under a cold tap to wash the harshest of the salt off. 

They will be preserved in the fridge for up to a month after being opened.

The main dining area, featuring the new bar created by The Annex, at Benedicts. 

The main dining area, featuring the new bar created by The Annex, at Benedicts. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Window seating at Benedicts restaurant. 

Window seating at Benedicts restaurant. - Credit: Danielle Booden