In the words of the great Sir Paul McCartney, the party’s on, and the feeling’s here. It is indeed very nearly wonderful Christmastime, which is a good reason to meet up with those friends you never see, get together with family, and wear those shoes that are simply too ridiculous to be acceptable at any other time of year. This is our list - arranged by outfit genre - of places to spend (or just begin…) an evening out, whether you’re in the mood for something quiet, or a bit more lavish.
Namaste India is right in the city centre, on Opie Street, and is a small, cosy Gujarati Indian Restaurant. They serve up the finest vegetarian and vegan foods from around India, using the very best ingredients, and the staff are exceptionally lovely too. A perfect place for couples or small groups to go for a relaxed evening of fantastic food, and a personal favourite.
Ribs of Beef
Here you’ll not only find a good selection of cask ale, ciders, draught lagers and pub food, but also exceptional hospitality. My favourite bit of this pub is their riverside terrace, where you can have a pint and eat chips basically on the river. It’s narrow and cosy – good for chatting and watching swans – with a beautiful view of one of the oldest parts of the city.
The Waffle House
Famous in Norwich, and for good reason. They do savoury waffles, sweet waffles, breakfast waffles and I can personally testify to the excellence of their mulled wine. A straight up, excellent and generous menu using fresh local ingredients, the Waffle House has been beloved by Norwich since 1978. Go and have a bolognaise waffle. You know you want to.
This is great for larger groups or families, and fussy eaters! For one set price (prices vary depending on days and time, but lunch is from around £7.99 and dinner from about £13.99), you can eat as much as you like from their Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Indian, Thai, Mexican and Continental menu. Plus, there’s a chocolate fountain…
Okay. It’s not food and it’s not drink but it’s a night out where you can wear jeans and a nice top. As this is an outdoor event though I also recommend sturdy shoes and a big coat. Norwich has a tragic and gruesome history of macabre goings on - join The Man in Black as he takes you on a tour of the city and tells you all about it. Tours last around 2 hours, and include a few ghoulish surprises along the way…
Popular French restaurant, in relaxed, elegant surroundings, and inspired by the brasseries of Paris. The food is simple, delicious and you’re always made to feel very welcome here by the excellent staff. An excellent choice for fans of French food as well as people who are looking to try it for the first time.
Bill’s started as a small greengrocers in Lewes, and since then has grown into a family of cosy restaurants serving modern classics all made with fresh ingredients. A place to relax in a laid back (and well designed) setting, Bills is a really lovely place to spend the evening, right in the heart of the city.
The Giggling Squid
The Giggling Squid is a beautiful, personable and welcoming Thai restaurant, serving small tapas-style plates as well as larger dishes. The building itself is fresh and charming, housed in Norwich’s historic heart – Tombland – and overlooked by the Cathedral. The food is relaxed and varied, and there’s something for everyone (whether they’re fans of spice or not!).
Grosvenor & Birdcage
I suppose this is of those ‘be as fancy as you like and no one will care’ kind of events. As a formula it’s flawless: Get your chips from the Grosvenor Fish Bar (and these aren’t just any chips; this is a top notch, award-winning modern chip shop, where you’ll find your standard fish-fayre along with more unusual offerings such as tuna, 5-quid squid, and sublime battered gherkins), and then head over to the Birdcage pub to eat your food in there. The Birdcage is one of Norwich’s most unusual, vibrant bars, and is the perfect relaxed environment to get a pint of Blue Moon to complement your Cod Goujon.
The Rooftop Gardens
With excellent cocktails, an exciting, newly launched food and wine menu, The Rooftop Gardens is a plush, contemporary restaurant, with a very special view of the city indeed. Situated at the top of Norwich’s Union building, The Rooftop Gardens is Norwich’s first rooftop restaurant, and is afforded views across the city like nowhere else. Their terrace (complete with heaters, worry not) is the perfect place to spend an entire evening, drinking wine and taking in the incredible views.
Small and intimate fine dining restaurant located in a beautifully historic area of Norwich. This elegant restaurant offers a range of enticing seasonal menus to choose from, to give you a taste of the real Norfolk! With a focus on wine and food, this is very romantic, and perfect for an atmospheric, candlelit dinner of real charm and quality.
An excellent place to spend the evening (but be sure to book in advance!). This award winning restaurant is owned and run by Great British Menu winner and judge Richard Bainbridge, who is very much the beating heart of Benedict’s. The food is delicious, creative, and a celebration of local produce; an experience altogether. Tasteful and contemporary, this is a treasure.
Roger Hickman’s Restaurant is Norwich’s fine dining destination, the only restaurant in Norwich to hold a prestigious AA 3 Rosette Award. Inside, the restaurant is classic yet understated, because the real draw here is the food. There are three menus – a Tasting Menu, a Lunch Menu and a multi-course Table d’Hôte Dinner Menu – all made with fresh and high-quality seasonal ingredients.
The Last Wine Bar
Housed in a former Victorian shoe factory, ‘The Last’ offers three distinct eating areas: the buzzy bar, the cosy downstairs, and the smarter restaurant; the same menu is available in all three.The food is modern and honest, and you can choose from bar and a la carte menus. There are more than 100 carefully-chosen wines available, with many offered by the glass or carafe, so this is great for a meal or just getting together for drinks.
The Walpole Arms
North of Norwich, in the picturesque countryside just past Aylsham, you’ll find this 18th century country pub. There’s a seasonal menu of tradition pub favourites, an expensive selection of real ale and wine, and a wood burner to welcome diners and non-diners alike.
The Old Rectory
Where you can have dinner AND stay the night, if you feel like making a real evening of it. The Old Rectory is just outside of the city, in charming Thorpe St Andrew, and housed in a Georgian Manor House. The restaurant here is Norwich’s only 4-star Gold 2 Rosette ‘Restaurant with Rooms’, where food is served in a candlelit dining room. After dinner, book to stay in one of the rooms (or perhaps the very special Dowager’s Cottage), for an extra special treat.
Best Western Annesley House
So not very far out the city at all, but Annesley House is another place where you can go for dinner and stay the night, for a short Christmas getaway with a significant other, or maybe friends you haven’t seen in ages. Their Conservatory restaurant has been awarded 2AA Rosettes, and head Chef Saul King makes every effort to ensure food is as local as possible. And as a hotel, it’s a short walk to bed after a drink or two.
The Loddon Swan
Towards the Broads, 15 minutes by car from Norwich, you'll find this charming 18th century inn with a welcoming atmosphere in the pretty South Norfolk market town of Loddon. This excellent freehouse serves a Modern British and unique grill menu using only the finest local produce, and has a fantastic and eclectic drinks menu. The rooms are very special too, and are all individually decorated for a more boutique experience.
Plus check out events at OPEN, Norwich Theatre Royal, and Norwich Philharmonic – with Christmas coming up there’s plenty going on here to entertain you for the evening, no matter what you fancy doing!
Title image: The Rooftop Garden
Greater Anglia has Advance fares from £10 one way between London Liverpool Street and Norwich. Trains run every 30 minutes. Greater Anglia also serves Colchester, Ipswich and Diss on the Norwich line. Direct trains also run from Cambridge.
East Midlands Trains runs services from Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham.
Flights into Norwich served from Edinburgh, Manchester, Exeter, Aberdeen, Jersey*, Guernsey* and Amsterdam.
To plan a trip to Norwich check out our website www.visitnorwich.co.uk