Food review: Perowne Room, Norwich - 'Shockingly good value'
- Credit: Contributed
I visited The Stables at the Royal Norwich golf club almost exactly two years ago – a month before Covid would put paid to dining outside our own kitchens.
I was impressed. Set in the beautifully manicured, undulating grounds of the golf course in Weston Longville, just across the way from Roarr Dinosaur Adventure where we spent loads of time with our kids when they were younger, it was dishing up seriously good food.
And it’s stunning. The contemporary, glass-fronted Stables dining room can rival any of the other ‘big boys’ in the city.
So it didn’t take too much persuasion to lure me back, this time to sample the Perowne Room – Royal Norwich’s new fine dining experience.
If The Stables is Grand Designs-esque with its bright, modern clean lines, the Perowne Room can be more likened to Downton Abbey – a nod to the history of the club.
Depositing our coats with a member of staff, we swished through the grand doors into an anteroom, where giant dominos lay on a coffee table, ready to entertain guests post-dinner. Our eyes drawn to the sweeping staircase and, beyond, the dining hall.
It was rather quiet when we arrived just after 7pm, but the space, with its pastel shades, heavy drapes, attractive mouldings and roaring fire, was soon filled with revellers. Couples on ‘date night’. A 50th birthday party (they were having a very good time). Groups of friends.
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Looking down the succinct menu it was clear the kitchen were wanting to flex their culinary muscles – while also paying homage to the seasons. Hare, Jerusalem artichokes, partridge and citrus fruits all took starring roles.
Which makes the price point, £29 for three courses with an amuse bouche and bread, all the more surprising. A snip.
To begin, the kitchen sent out a croquette of salt cold, bound with tarragon and grain mustard, topped with a garlicky aioli. It was perfectly crisp, without a hint of grease, and packed a real punch, firing up our tastebuds.
It was swiftly followed by a wedge each of crusty-edged, plump warm sourdough and whipped butter. Now we were really hungry!
Alongside a cracking Adnams white Burgandy, I started my ‘meal proper’ with partridge breast, its skin gilded, served with a smooth Jerusalem artichoke puree, parsnip crisps and crushed hazelnuts. The flavour was rich, yet subtle. Each ingredient allowed to shine. My only criticism of this dish, and the whole meal, was the partridge was overcooked.
Mr J’s starter got a big thumbs up. Slivers of Staith Smokehouse’s salmon, with dots of sour cream, cucumber pickles and large bread crackers to scoop everything up with. Really fresh.
I was blown away by my main course, which had a £5 surcharge. Beef fillet is, let’s face it, the least interesting cut. It doesn’t have those delicious fatty ribbons running through it to give it a ‘pow’ of beefiness. So chefs have to be clever. Bringing flavour to the meat, while not detracting from it in its own right.
And the kitchen had truly done this fillet justice. The cut itself was buttery and blushed with pink, with a well-seasoned exterior (I suspect it was cooked sous vide and finished over the burners). Now, let’s talk about the garnishes. A sticky rectangle of pankoed, fried ox cheek. A pickled carrot for acidity. A deeply dark barbecued carrot topped with fragrant, seedy dukkah. And the most incredible salsa macha. Hailing from South America, this particular condiment is rarely found outside the home. It combines a mix of dried peppers/chillies (most notably smoky chipotle) with all kinds of goodies – seeds, peanuts, garlic. Here, the salsa was bang on, being subtly smoky and fragrant, but with a creeping, lingering heat. Not a shy dish at all.
On the other side of the table was tender monkfish, served over baby potatoes with a slick chicken jus cut with leek oil, and shredded, fried leeks. No complaints here either.
We finished with an orange and passionfruit tart, and the Perowne Room’s take on affogato.
I’d plumped for the tart. Often, passionfruit’s zesty, sherbetty nature is missed in puddings.
Here, the fruit was going full pelt. The tart was layered with a sweet orange custard, topped with a delicate, juicy, bursting passionfruit jelly. As for the passionfruit sorbet? It made my lips pucker like I’d been plunging into a Sherbet Dib Dab. I loved it.
The affogato was accomplished too and consisted of a chocolate mousse topped with sweet crumbs and a silky coffee ice cream.
A footnote of the meal with coffee and hot chocolate, was a couple pieces of chocolate fudge (it ate like chocolate caramel to me).
This is food worth travelling out of Norwich city centre for. Bold flavours put on plates by chefs who clearly know what they’re doing. Service was attentive too – they soon swept away the mess I’d made of the butter!
Again, at less than £30 per person, it’s shockingly good value. Booking is essential at royalnorwich.co.uk