Food review, L'Hexagone: 'It's like being transported to France'

The Entrecote Steak Frites (£22) at L'Hexagone in Norwich. 

The entrecote steak frites (£22) at L'Hexagone in Norwich. - Credit: Stuart Anderson

We asked the hostess about the intriguing name of this relatively new bistro in Norwich's Lower Goat Lane. 

The answer was something that would be obvious to any Francophile and perhaps also anyone with enough sense to take down the atlas. 

France itself does, of course, resemble a hexagon, its points marked roughly by Nice in the south-east, the Med and Atlantic extremes of the Spanish border, the Brittany peninsula and Dunkirk right up there in the top left. 

L'Hexagone French bistro in Lower Goat Lane, Norwich. 

L'Hexagone French bistro in Lower Goat Lane, Norwich. - Credit: Stuart Anderson

Wondering what shape the meal itself would take we took our seats in a little nook by the window. 

Cooking smells filled the entire space as the chef bustled about in a kitchen that's open to view and curiously split into two sections to either side of the stairs.  

There were candles on tables and French music playing in the background - everything made us feel like we'd stepped beyond the Channel itself.  

The hostess introduced the menu, which was limited to just a couple of choices for each course and entirely in French. 

The soupe de carotte aux lentilles corail (£9) at L'Hexagone in Norwich. 

The soupe de carotte aux lentilles corail (£9) at L'Hexagone in Norwich. - Credit: Stuart Anderson

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For a starter I had the soupe de carotte aux lentilles corail (£9) - carrot and lentil soup. It was wonderfully warm and bursting with flavour. There was no bread to go with it - perhaps this is done so you are forced to focus on the taste of soup itself - if so, it worked.

My wife Bec went for the brochettes de crevettes en persillade (£10). This dish looked and smelled beautiful.

The  brochettes de crevettes (£10) at L'Hexagone in Norwich. 

The brochettes de crevettes en persillade, pastis (£10) at L'Hexagone in Norwich. - Credit: Stuart Anderson

There were two skewers each with three lightly fried prawns, seasoned with parsley, served on a bed of salad and slices of grilled bread. The prawns were delicious and juicy and the bread was crunchy.

Hungry for more, we eagerly awaited our mains. I went for steak frites - steak and chips - of which there were three variations - the bavette (flank steak), entrecôte (which is cut from between the ribs) and filet, which comes from the lower middle of the back. 

The entrecote steak frites (£22) and a large glass of Cotes du Rhone red wine at L'Hexagone in Norwich. 

The entrecote steak frites (£22) and a large glass of Cotes du Rhone red wine at L'Hexagone in Norwich. - Credit: Stuart Anderson

I chose entrecôte (£22), which was exceptional. This was the kind of steak that lingers in your mind long after the plate is empty. The medium-rare meat was perfectly cooked, red on the inside and well tender, and not too salty. Steak is not my usual choice when dining out but I'd glad I didn't miss out this time, and it's a dish I would gladly order again. 

The chips - and there were a lot of them - were equally moreish - golden brown - they must take ages to prepare. 

The fillet de cabillaud, pommes de terre nouvelles, tomates cerises, olives, basilic (£22) at L'Hexagone in Norwich. 

The fillet de cabillaud, pommes de terre nouvelles, tomates cerises, olives, basilic (£22) at L'Hexagone in Norwich. - Credit: Stuart Anderson

For her main Bec chose the fillet de cabillaud (£22). This fillet of cod arrived on a plate loaded with new potatoes, tomatoes, fresh, black olives and a slice of lemon. 

Wafers of succulent cod fell away as she picked it up, and luckily, as she doesn't like olives, I got to pick those off at the end. She said she would have preferred the fish to have been served a bit warmer, but that was about the only criticism either of us could come up for the whole evening. 

We both went ahead and ordered dessert - I picked the mousse au chocolat (£7) - a chocolate mousse served in a little glass. 

The mousse au chocolat at L'Hexagone in Norwich. 

The mousse au chocolat (£7)at L'Hexagone in Norwich. - Credit: Stuart Anderson

There were flakes of fine chocolate decorating the top the mousse, which was smooth and incredibly satisfying. 

Bec chose the crème brûlée (£7) which was so good, she said she wanted to have a funeral for it once it was all gone. The top layer of hardened caramelised sugar was crispy and the custard underneath was melt-in-the-mouth and had the taste of vanilla. 

The creme brulee (£7) at L'Hexagone in Norwich. 

The creme brulee (£7) at L'Hexagone in Norwich. - Credit: Stuart Anderson

The idea of this bistro seems to be: top-quality ingredients used to make simple dishes very well and very French.

The couple behind L'Hexagone do a great job and the passion and talent they have for their craft is obvious - their restaurant is clearly shaping up to be a winner. 

The upstairs dining room at L'Hexagone in Norwich. 

The upstairs dining room at L'Hexagone in Norwich. - Credit: Stuart Anderson

Prepare to be transported to the continent! The hosts do an wonderful job of evoking the mood, character and flavours of a typical French bistro, and what could be a better spot for it in Norwich than the 'Old World' surroundings of Lower Goat Lane? 

A rack on the wall just as you step inside is filled with wine, and the darkly-painted walls give the venue a cosy but modern feel. 

There are just a couple of places to sit on the ground floor and a modest dining room filled with candle-lit tables upstairs.

There's beer, soft drinks and coffee on the menu, but we opted for wine to go with our meals. I had a large glass of red from Côtes du Rhône called Les Galets (£9) which was delicious, and Bec went for a Caze Blanque Savignon Blanco (large glass for £8).

Our total bill for food came to £77 and the wines pushed our total bill over £100. That's a lot more than I'm used to spending, but for great-quality food I'd still say it's good value - £22 each for mains, starters and desserts all under £10. 

There is a single toilet on the first floor which is clean and tidy. It's fully functional and as you would expect. 

This is an old building in the Norwich Lanes, so there is not loads of space and as stated, the toilet is upstairs. But there are no steps as you enter the ground floor and I'm sure the hosts would do their best to accommodate anyone with special needs. 

Our hostess was lovely and attentive and answered all our questions excellently. We didn't feel at all inadequate due our lack of French. We did not have to wait too long between courses - perfect service. 

It seems unfair to pick out one single element, the whole experience of dining at L'Hexagone and enjoying the food, wine and ambiance was a delight.  

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Our food reviews are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on their experience of the venue when they visited. The establishment is not aware of our visit, is not informed we intend to write a review and bills are paid by the reviewer. The choice of places reviewed is also independent and is not based on venues which do or do not advertise in our publications.