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The best places we ate in Norfolk in 2018 - is your favourite on the list?

PUBLISHED: 20:00 31 December 2018 | UPDATED: 12:53 01 January 2019

We ate at some great pubs, restaurants and cafes in 2018 Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

We ate at some great pubs, restaurants and cafes in 2018 Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Where are the best places our reviewers ate in 2018 in Norfolk?

Frank’s, Norwich

Eleanor Pringle declared Frank’s Norwich’s worst kept secret, saying it’s where residents will only take their favourite guests – because they don’t want anyone else to know about it.

With a hip vibe, what Frank’s lacks in size it makes up for in personality and with a menu leaning towards the Middle East, as well as a stonking breakfast menu. The hummus platter was, she said, amazing, as were the filled bagels, served with home fries and proper beans.

“Frank’s is a cult favourite for a reason.”

The Ship Inn, South Walsham

Lauren Cope visited this pub on the edge of the Broads and just 15 minutes from Norwich, finding it cosy with a menu of hearty homemade food.

Trying calamari with mango salsa, sweet chilli beef (a 10/10 she said), and gorgeously tender pork belly with black pudding croquettes, pea and pancetta cassoulet and fondant potatoes, Lauren added: “It’s absolutely worth visiting. The food was lovely, the menu filled with a mix of pub classics - prawn cocktail and whitebait - and more creative options - coconut king prawns with glass noodles and a sweet chili Laksa broth. I’d love to try their Sunday roasts and return for dessert. A great spot if you’ve enjoyed a day out on the Broads, or fancy a special family meal out.”

Dhaba 15, Norwich

Despite being a relatively new kid on the block in the city, Dhaba 15 is already making waves and consistently is one of the highest rated eateries on Tripadvisor in Norwich. Louisa Baldwin found it minimalistic in style, but with a broad, innovative menu without a Brit-style curry (think Balti) in sight. The star dishes for her were gol guppa (crispy balls filled with spicy potatoes, chickpeas and tamarind water) and the melting Persian beef curry, with meat which cut like butter.

Benji’s, Norwich

“Wow,” said reviewer Emily Revell of this eatery at Jarrold department store. “It’s been a while since I’ve been this excited about somewhere.”

Aside from the elegant setting, Emily raved about the London-style food offering, including a Vegetarian Garden Box packed with houmous, tortilla, olives, chickpea cakes, parsley sponge, tomatoes and flatbreads. During her visit Emily tried open sourdough sandwiches of grilled artichoke, tomato and watercress, and spicy avocado and chargrilled veg on vegan cornbread, as well as triple cooked chips, saying every element was simple, but cooked spot-on.

“I have completely fallen in love with Benji’s – I keep thinking about it because I can’t wait to visit again. I’m happy to have found my very own Café Liberty so close to home. I also found out once we’d left that the executive chef, Nick Harris, has cooked for the Queen and Elton John, as well as working at prestigious establishments like Lanesborough in London’s West End. Go visit now!”

Bure River Cottage Restaurant, Horning

At the heart of the Broads in a popular tourist spot, Tom Bristow found the standards at Bure River Cottage exceptionally high. Serving only locally sourced fish and shellfish, the menu changes regularly here. Recommendations from Tom include the fat, juicy mussels, chargrilled scallops in salsa verde, and fillet of sea bream with basil, walnut and feta dressing.

“Bure River Cottage knows how to do fish well. They don’t use pomp and faff to create their dishes but excellent ingredients cooked superbly. If you’re looking for exceptional food without the pretension, then Bure River Cottage Restaurant is the place to go.”

The Green Man, Rackheath

“Seriously yummy,” said Emily Revell of this family-owned free house which offers a tapas menu and specials board in addition to the main menu. A showstopper was the goats’ cheese soufflé with tomato dressing, and Emily waxed lyrical about the enormous portion of flaky cod encased in a Woodforde’s beer batter, with some of the best chips she’s ever had.

She was too full for dessert.

“Scrumptious! For reasons unbeknown to me I wasn’t expecting much, but the execution of every element was spot on and I loved it.”

The Station Smokehouse, Hoveton

“This has to be one of the coolest places to eat on the British railway system,” said food and drink editor Charlotte Smith-Jarvis. The enticing aroma of live smoke pits arouses the tastebuds on the way to this restaurant in a former station house on the Wroxham/Hoveton line. Charlotte said the food was messy, drippy, salty and succulent. Must tries are the burnt ends – brisket cooked over fruity woods with a lick of barbecue sauce, and the super hot crispy buttermilk chicken in Buffalo sauce. If you’ve got room, the Twix and chocolate cookie (to share) is divine.

Zak’s, Thetford

EDP and Norwich Evening News editor in chief David Powles found excellent value and a great family atmosphere at the newest diner in the Zak’s empire, saying he’d never been to the Norwich restaurants before.

From the huge choice David chose the black pepper burger, which came drenched in a creamy pepper sauce, with curly fries and salad. Fresh and delicious he said it was awesome value for money at only £10.95.

His kids happily tucked into chicken in a crispy cornflake coating too. One for all the family.

“We will be back. It was our first experience of Zak’s and we were really impressed with the food, choice, staff and overall experience.”

Where’s the best place you eat last year? Email charlotte.smith-jarvis@archant.co.uk

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