Once upon a time (way back in early 2014) there was a young lady who took a journey to Dray Yard Smokehouse in Norwich. She had been told tales of perfectly cooked pork and delicious desserts – how could she resist?
But why did she not blog about it? Alas, it was because she was not all that keen. Perhaps she was unfairly comparing it to the food she’d recently eaten at Harbercue, but she didn’t feel she could rave about.
So when it was recommended to her again, 18 months down the line, she was keen to see if all the recent rumours were true.
Grabbing The Chap and a couple of friends, she set off for another adventure at Dray Yard.
(She is now going to stop with the fairytale metaphor and speaking about herself in the third person. It’s getting weird.)
So much food
We made plans to meet at the Smokehouse at 6.30 on a Friday to celebrate the coming weekend and while the restaurant was quiet at first, it was buzzing by the time we departed.
After our experience at St Andrews Brewhouse a couple of weeks ago, I feel I should warn you in advance that the drinks list isn’t extensive. There were just two beers on draught and a handful of white wines. While that’s not a problem for me, it might be for some of you, so thought I should mention it before I get on to the star attraction…
The food menu more than made up for the small number of drinks on offer, crammed with different cuts of meat, burgers and wings. The light bites menu in particular (which is only served until 6.30) was crammed with delicious sounding dishes too, including loaded sweet potato fries (topped with pork, beef, cheese and jalapenos) and Reuben sandwiches, the thought of which made my mouth water.
Don’t like change
Having ordered the pulled pork plate last time I visited, I was keen to try it again to see if it had changed (£11, with fries and a side). Oh, and I also ordered a portion of fried jalapenos (£4.25) for me and The Chap because I can’t resist them!
I’m pleased to say that I loved every mouthful. And the portions were enormous. I don’t know if I have ever seen so much meat on one plate. I actually thought that I wouldn’t be able to finish it (but I did). The meat was tender and succulent, with a good bark (where the smoke has penetrated the skin), while it tasted smoky and sweet and melted in the mouth.
The flavours were enhanced by the homemade Kansas BBQ sauce too. When I first tried it, straight from the bottle, it had seemed vinegary and not much like BBQ sauce, but on the meat it was amazing, adding a sharp contrast to the otherwise rich flavours. I was surprised at how much both the meat and the sauce were transformed when combined.
The fries were great too, but the beans I’d chosen as a side let the dish down a little. They were supposed to have smoky sauce on them, containing pork and beef, but they were a little dry and there wasn’t any hint of meat. It wasn’t that they were awful, but they were a little disappointing in contrast to the BBQ meat.
The fried jalapenos were awesome, I will say before I forget. While I would have liked to have more than four between us, it was probably for the best, because I could have made myself quite sick. They were filled with creamy soft cheese and coated with a crispy, breadcrumb coating. I could eat some right now, if I’m being totally honest with you!
Defeated by cheesecake
You’d think, with all of that food, there would be no room for dessert, but you would be wrong.
Although the list of puddings on offer was minimal, with just five options and a special (key lime pie that day), there was enough to pique my interest.
Because I am a massive fan of Waitrose’s baked New York cheesecake, I opted for that to see how it matched up (£5.25).
And it was enormous. I will admit to you now, I was defeated. It was bespeckled with chocolate chips and came with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, and a drizzle of coulis to cut through the dairy.
My tip to you is, unless you have a huge appetite, share a pudding with a friend. While it was rich, dense and generally brilliant, I don’t think anyone could eat that on top of the pulled pork plate, even if they wanted to (and I really wanted to).
I’m so glad that I came back for a return visit, because it was actually really good and for the amount of food that I ate, really good value for money.