(food) Vegans... normal for Norfolk! The hottest plant-based plates in Norwich 2017

I swear that I had planned this post BEFORE Norwich was declared the new Notting Hill by The Sunday Times.

But now that nightclub boss Alex Proud has outed the East Anglian city as 'the new somewhere else' it's time to really shout about this pretty provincial place.

And particularly its new love affair with healthier eating.

As the wife of a Norfolk boy, I have history with Norwich. And as the wife of a Norfolk veggie boy I have history with sighs and a sad face as another lacklustre mushroom risotto is served when we head up the M11 for the weekend.

But... sad faces be gone! As the world goes gaga for vegan cuisine, Norwich, it seems, is living up to its rep as being 'custom-made to foster hipness' (right on, Alex!) and has gotten the plant-eating memo.

This summer the city welcomed its first full vegan restaurant, The Tipsy Vegan, and it can also boast the UK's first soya dairy, Tofurei.

And the Timber Hill area is awash with artisan eateries boasting gluten-free this and dairy-free that just made for West London's cleanest eaters.

I'm not a vegan, or even a proper vegetarian, I'm 'flexitarian' (if the cow/fish/chick has had a happy life then I may well eat it), but it's always good to have options, and GREAT to see some good vegan cooking outside of London.

So hooray for the herbivores. Here are five of my favourite spots in Norwich right now...

Burgers, ribs' 'slaw: Not your average plant-based plates at The Tipsy Vegan

Burgers, ribs' 'slaw: Not your average plant-based plates at The Tipsy Vegan

1. THE TIPSY VEGAN

68-70 St Benedicts Street

They say: Speak easy, play hard, eat well. The Tipsy Vegan is a hidden gem located in the historic Lanes, serving mouth-watering comfort food and social drinks. Everything in our restaurant is tastefully vegan. 

We say:  Norwich's first full vegan restaurant, this American-influenced speakeasy opened this summer to rave reviews, including several from our local, card-carrying carnivore friends.

Founders Cheryl and Michelle are hospitality and health and fitness gurus on a mission to serve up interesting food that just happens to be vegan. They promise you will never see a mushroom risotto (yay!) or a ratatouille on the menu, instead you can expect Korean Bao Buns, 'Steak' Sandwiches and Tempeh Ribs as well as tasting plates inspired by their travels and - of course - cocktails with a clean-eating twist.

D|R tip: For the Tipsy Vegan experience on the go swing by their street food vegan diner Bia Kitchen on Norwich Market (row B).

D|R recommended plate: The desserts are worth saving space for. And on the cocktail menu, we love the Black Gin Smash: an (almost) healthy combination of House-Infused Beetroot Gin, Activated Charcoal, Mint, Lemon and Ginger Beer.

thetipsyvegan.co.uk

Egg-free: Whisky Sour meets Mango Parfait at The Tipsy Vegan

Egg-free: Whisky Sour meets Mango Parfait at The Tipsy Vegan


2. TIMBERHILL BAKERY

27-29 Timber Hill

They say: Every morning hundreds of sourdough loaves are hand peeled out of a French artisan stone bread oven and sit crackling as they cool on a hand-crafted Elm bread table. This is no tough, dry supermarket sourdough; this is bread that feeds the soul, bread that comforts you in a way that nothing made in an hour by a machine ever could.

Customers talk about why this bread is the best in the country, why the owners persist in mega-slow fermentation, baking with difficult, low-gluten ancient grains, and why it all seems like a mission rather than a business to them.

None of this really matters; what counts is that this bread just makes you happy.

We say: A bakery to make you fall for bread again, ALL loaves here are handmade with love (seriously, we've never seen such happy bakers) suitable for vegans, and made with only organic ingredients including flour, seeds, fruit, nuts & extra virgin olive oil.

This bread does indeed make you happy. We were so happy after our first visit that we decided it might be time to move back (before the Sunday Times article put the house prices up).

D|R recommended plate: The All-Day Vegan Breakfast Toastie is so good we had it twice in two days... and not even at breakfast time (rebels).

timberhillbakery.com

Courgette/Sesame Muffin at the Timberhill Bakery

Courgette/Sesame Muffin at the Timberhill Bakery

Timberhill's AWESOME All-Day Vegan Breakfast Toastie

Timberhill's AWESOME All-Day Vegan Breakfast Toastie


3. Wild Thyme Vegetarian Cafe

The Old Fire Station Stables, Labour In Vain Yard

They say: Established in 2013, at Wild Thyme we are passionate about seasonal fresh food. Our food is made daily using only the finest ingredients to produce tasty, creative vegetarian, vegan, raw and gluten-free dishes. Our menu changes are a labour of love with the kitchen team creating new and exciting combinations of flavours and styles. 

We say: A stylish veggie destination that offers lots of vegan options, including wine. The pretty patio is a nice place for a cup of organic coffee and a slice of gluten-free cake.

And as the restaurant is atop Norwich's oldest health store (the husband remembers visiting for sacks of lentils in the Eighties) it's worth stopping in to stock up on healthy treats and vegan beauty products.

D|R recommended plate: The Raw Carrot Cake is vegan AND sugar-free. Basically a superfood.

wildthymenorwich.co.uk

Smart and sustainable: Wild Thyme is one of the city's original and best-loved veggie restaurants 

Smart and sustainable: Wild Thyme is one of the city's original and best-loved veggie restaurants 


4. BIDDY'S TEA ROOM

 15/15a Lower Goat Lane

They say: Biddy's is a small independent Tea Room opened in 2010 in the eclectic Norwich Lanes. Named after the owner's fox terrier Biddy it was intended to be a whimsical escape 'down the rabbit hole' and into Edwardian Britain Tea Society. We know our portions are generous and there's no shame in asking to take the rest home.

We say: Not completely vegan, but Biddy's is worth a shout out for being totally bonkers, as well as stocking a range of super-sized vegan cakes from local artisan bakers Deerly Beloved.

A great place to take non-vegan cake-loving friends and family.

D|R recommended plate: Options change daily, surprise yourself.

biddystearoom.com

Whimsical: Escape 'down the rabbit hole' and into Edwardian Britain Tea Society at Biddy's

Whimsical: Escape 'down the rabbit hole' and into Edwardian Britain Tea Society at Biddy's


5. TOFUREI

12 Pottergate

They say: A relaxing vegan coffee shop and ‘grab ‘n’ go’ showcasing products from the UK’s first shop-based micro soya dairy. Our unique vegan deli-counter serves soysages, burgers and tofua and you’ll also find our tofu and tofu products on the menu in a number of fine establishments in and around Norwich. We are East Anglia’s only stockist of the full range of Tyne Chease – award-winning cashew nut-based vegan cheese. 

We say: Get there early to make the most of the free samples and pick up an organic brew served with made-on-site soya milk.

D|R recommended plate: The One Planet pizzas (to takeaway) are pretty close to the real thing. Although we did add some truffle oil, more tomatoes and possibly some real cheese (!) to the 'Sheeze'-based Hawaiian.

tofurei.co.uk

I do not believe these donuts are vegan (sorry): Pretty puddings at Tofurei on Pottergate

I do not believe these donuts are vegan (sorry): Pretty puddings at Tofurei on Pottergate


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