Having not worked in Norwich for well over two months now, it’s fair to say that things seem to have changed very quickly, not least because Irish bar and Norfolk institution Delaney’s is no longer a thing. You’d have thought I’d heard about its closure, but no, I was blissfully unaware of it until last week – when I saw that it had become St Andrew’s Brewhouse.
While the bar now looks very different from outside, the biggest changes have been made inside. A huge amount of money must have been spent on the redevelopment, because even the layout has changed, right down to the stairs being moved to the other side of the bar. It goes without saying that the decor has changed dramatically too.
It now has an air of hipster chic, with exposed brick walls, mismatched furniture and a hotpotch of crockery and cutlery. It is also a lot brighter in there. The way the floorplan has changed means that a lot more light is let in by the big windows, which had previously been blocked by stairs or the bar. There is also the added advantage that it’s pretty good spot for an hour or two of people watching (and who doesn’t enjoy that?).
The atmosphere on early Saturday evening was most pleasant, with a low hum of chatter and the clink of cutlery, while Norah Jones played softly over the sound system (and yes, I am going to use that to judge a restaurant – sorry if you don’t like her!).
In spite of my initial optimism, we unfortunately hit a snag when we first arrived: a table hadn’t been reserved for us, in spite of The Chap receiving a call back to confirm our reservation earlier in the week. Odd. Thankfully, in spite of the confusion, the waiting staff were very efficient and quickly found us a table with minimum fuss. It was actually reassuring how calmly they dealt with the problem and didn’t make us wait.
In fact, it seems like a pretty good opportunity for me to say that the waiting staff were brilliant. They regularly checked that we were happy with the food and whether we needed drinks with good cheer through the proceedings (when did I start talking like someone from a Jane Austen novel? Weird). They really helped to make the evening a pleasant one.
On the menu
Obviously, as a brewhouse, there is a HUGE drinks menu. Unfortunately, as beer isn’t my particular penchant, it was sort of lost on me and I ended up ordering a glass of wine. Apologies to any readers who were expecting a review of the beers – I’m not the blogger for you. That said, if you have tried the beers and want to leave a comment below, please do.
What I was really there for was the food.
Although the dining menu isn’t huge, it was surprisingly difficult for us to make a choice, with the starters and sides sounding as good as the mains. With salad and fish alongside burgers and pork belly, the Brewhouse had everything I could possibly want for a 30 minute indecision session. After a substantial amount of dithering about, we spotted the Boards at the bottom of the menu, which were the answer to our very prayers.
Although there are only two on the menu, they both sounded tempting. I will confess that the choice was made significantly easier by the fact that there were chicken wings on the Brewers Board (£19), otherwise we might have been there for quite a bit longer.
When the board arrived we were very happy with our choice – and there was definitely enough food for two. You can get an idea of the scale of the dish by looking at the size of the pint glass in the back of the shot (right).
The centrepiece, by the way, is braised beef with mash and gravy, surrounded by very yummy things like flatbread and olives. The four sweet, tangy and tender buffalo chicken wings took The Chap’s fancy (“They are possibly the best wings I’ve ever had in the UK” – high praise indeed), while I was taken by the chorizo scotch egg – which was crispy on the outside with a just-hard-boiled egg at the centre. There is something about the combination of pork, paprika and egg that I find utterly irresistible. And in case my arteries weren’t hardening enough, it was particularly good with the smoked cheese sauce in the foreground.
The aforementioned brisket was delicious and rich, with a thick, intense gravy and creamy mash. The Chap wasn’t as fond of it as I was – saying it was a bit too basic, but I loved it. It would be absolutely lovely on a cold winter’s evening.
The beans, which weren’t mentioned on the menu, were a nutritious addition to the proceedings, with a tangy tomato sauce, which cut through the decadence of the rest of the meal. The slaw was a real revelation though, because I am ordinarily not a fan. Often it’s just an excuse for eateries to serve up cheap veg in a heavy mayo as an excuse for a side. This, however, was something else. In with the standard cabbage and onion was a hint of fennel and lemon, which was a tangy and bright in contrast to the meat. I was very pleasantly surprised and will look at slaw in a slightly different way in future!
The only part of the board that was slightly disappointing was the popcorn shrimp. While it was indeed crispy and shrimpy, it wasn’t as spicy as the menu would have had us believe, with the paprika unidentifiable. I would be interested to see if they are always like that, or whether we were just unlucky.
Although the board was enough for two, that didn’t stop us from ordering desserts. How could I miss out on a potentially incredible pudding?!
The dessert menu is only short, but with was something for every taste.
Alas, I will admit to suffering from almost instant food envy though. I opted for the raspberry semifreddo (£6) but wished I’d ordered the gluten-free brownie (it looked so gooey!). Although the semifreddo tasted sharp and refreshing, there were, unfortunately, large ice crystals throughout. Instead of the soft, slightly melted ice cream that I was expecting, it was hard to break into without it shattering all over the place. I am saddened to say it was the only thing that really let the meal down.
That said, it was a most pleasant evening overall. The food, drink and staff were all great, so there is little doubt about us returning very soon.
Check out the menu here.