Food Review: City College Norwich
PUBLISHED: 10:43 31 October 2016
Students at City College Norwich have a head start learning their trade in this sophisticated atmosphere, writes Judith Palmer
Pulling through the gate and passed the sign labelled Student Parking, I was brought back to my days as a teenager, stomping the halls of City College Norwich. Now, several years later, I am filled with a sense of pride as I walk my dinner guest past my old classrooms on our way to the smartly decorated Debut Restaurant. It is here - at the restaurant on the site of the 125-year-old college - where students of the Hotel School learn to prepare, cook and serve food for the public under the watchful eye of their experienced chef lecturers.
We are greeted very politely by our waitress, who escorts us through the sophisticated set-up - it really wouldn’t look out of place in any city centre restaurant - and shows us to our seat. She talks us through the evening’s set menu, a mouthwatering selection across seven courses, with vegetarian and nut-free options available. After agreeing to alternate the vegetarian options in a bid to sample everything, our platter of bread, olives and goats cheese appetisers is brought out and quickly enjoyed. This is followed by a delicious cup of pea and mint soup, setting a high standard for our evening.
Before our next course arrives we notice that located on the wall behind us is a television screen showing us the students hard at work in the kitchen. It helps me cast aside any doubts as to whether it is actually students or qualified chefs preparing our meals as, without this aid, it would have been difficult to tell.
A starter of beautifully presented smoked chicken, Binham Blue cheese, walnut and pear appears before me, and my friend enjoys the tomato and mozzarealla terrine. My dish is quite an unusual concoction of flavours but works beautifully together, and my friend’s terrine disappears pretty quickly too. Between this and our main course appears a small dish of liquorice sorbet, a strong flavour to cleanse the palate.
My caramelised onion tart for mains is brought out soon afterwards, accompanied on the plate by a crispy basil potato and small bed of green veg. The crisp pastry base, with the sweet yet savoury filling, is delicious and sits wonderfully with the vegetables. My friend’s salmon is filled with flavour and comes with similar accompaniments - we both particularly favoured the breaded basil potato, delicious.
Our dessert for the evening is vanilla panacotta and chocolate mousse with berry compote. As expected, by now, it is excellent, sumptuously sweet with a slight tang from the berries. Somehow we manage to find room for the petit fours that bring the meal to a close - a perfect way to finish a delicious and classy evening, and all for a great price.
Expect to pay
£21.75 per person
(The lunchtime menu is £10 for two courses or £11 for three, Monday to Friday, at 12pm)
Evening menu - available Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; arrive prompt for 7.30pm start
City College Norwich, Ipswich Road, Norwich, NR2 2LJ; 01603 773227; www.debut.ccn.ac.uk