Review: Bishop's Dining Room
PUBLISHED: 08:55 28 October 2011
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-flé 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 soufflé 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.
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
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.
‘A MODEL RESTAURANT’
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.”