With a thriving open air market at its heart, Norwich is becoming a key player on the country’s foodie stage – Sarah Hardy
Norwich Market, right in the centre of the city, has been going strong since the 11th century and now boasts about 200 stalls, with food and drink becoming increasingly popular. It opens six days a week, with some stalls also opening on Sunday, and is said to be the largest open air market in the country.
You can seemingly find everything on sale here, from household goods to children’s toys, clothes and flowers. Yet what does excite, says Mel Cook of VisitNorwich, are the foodie options available which range from fresh sourdough loaves to the best chips around. You might want to pick up a spot of lunch from, say, Cocina Mia (a taste of Chile with enormous empanadas) or some amazing seafood for an upmarket dinner party from City Fish, or a post work pick-up calzone from Italian Street Food.
Mel says: ‘Food is such an important part of any holiday or day trip somewhere – people like to plan where they are going to eat and Norwich is lucky to have so many independent offerings, sitting beside the well known national chains.
‘Here in Norwich, the market and Norwich Lanes are real food destinations and have really helped to expand what Norwich has to offer to people visiting the city; the pedestrianisation of St Benedict’s has created a lovely coffee society feel – it is so joyous to see people sitting outside and enjoying lovely lunches in the sun!’
She adds: ‘Norwich now appeals as a great option for those interested in food, local producers, fine dining and more – and is a key platform for us and one that we use to attract holiday makers and day trippers to the city.’
Five Norwich Market stands to try:
Walsingham Farms Shop
With its HQ in Little Walsingham in north Norfolk, this stall sells great pies, cakes, cheeses, chutneys and more. The stall has a small sitting area where you can enjoy pie, mash and gravy for £7.95. Yes please!
Churros for the People
This exciting stall sells all things Spanish – think chorizo, cheeses, olives, oils and more. There’s a great little seating area where you can tuck into a wide range of tapas, from tortillas to croquetas, padron peppers and, of course, churros. The sangria is fab, too.
Lucy’s Fish & Chips
This stall has been going strong since 1971 and sells everything you’d expect from a chippie as well as little treats such as calamari and vegan options. There’s a seating area, too.
And eat it
Described as a micro cookie bakery, the stall is packed with sweet treats, including the house speciality – brookies, which are a decadent cross between a brownie and a cookie. They are a chocoholic’s idea of heaven with flavours ranging from chocolate orange to salted caramel, and all things in between – look out for the slutty brownie! The bakes are huge and the cookies are good, too. Not a stall for those watching their weight – you have been warned!
Sir Toby’s Beers
Now this is a craft beer enthusiast’s dream, with literally hundreds of different types of beer stocked, from local favourites to unusual finds from around the world. There is a small selection of beers offered on tap, and plenty more in the fridges! It’s the place to chill out after work.
Bread Source – breads, pastries, sausage rolls and more.
Cheeseman – local and national cheeses and chutneys.
The Italian Street Food – pizzas and more.
The Cuppie Hut – cakes, cakes and more cakes.
New Food Hall
A new £2 million food hall is set to open in the historic Royal Arcade, in the city centre, later this year. Called Yalm, after the Norfolk word to ‘eat hungrily’, the foodie hub will see a mixture of bars and kitchens from both the city and Norfolk chefs and artisan producers, all uniting to create a fab foodie destination. Yalm will be set in the two story former Jamie’s restaurant which closed in 2019 and will offer all day dining for up to 300 people. It is expected that there will be six kitchens, plus bars and space for pop ups and an event space – the inspiration comes from Seven Dials in London’s Covent Garden.
The idea is that you can buy whatever you fancy from individual venues and it will then be served to you at a communal dining area – so you can mix and match!
Dan Searle, already well known on the foodie scene as he ran Mysabar in Norwich, is the venue’s operations manager and says there will be everything from pizzas to a steak house, a ramen bar (complete with dumplings), a craft beer bar, a wine and spirit bar and plenty of cocktails. ‘It’s really exciting as we are bringing together local independent businesses who really want to work together to create something special,’ he says.
It is hoped Yalm will open at the end of October/beginning of November.
An ambitious flagship farm shop, with cafe, is being planned by The Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association at the Norfolk Showground, just on the outskirts of Norwich. The £2.3m development is set to include a deli, a butcher, a shop, a cafe and outdoor seating and is designed to showcase the county’s fabulous food and drink producers.
A two-acre market garden is also included in the designs which will be the base for a community growing project.
Mark Nicholas, managing director of the RNAA, says: ‘We are thrilled to unveil plans to build a Norfolk Food Hall and Market Garden project. The Food Hall will be a flagship destination, promoting the best of Norfolk produce at the Norfolk Showground site, the home of the Royal Norfolk Show. The Market Garden is an exciting scheme which will encourage people to get involved with growing and understanding the positive environmental impact of a local supply chain.’
All the plans are currently out for public consultation before formal planning permission is sought. It is hoped that work will start as soon as later this year. Watch this space!
What else: Look out for a new Cheese Room in Jarrold’s basement foodie emporium.