IN the distant past the food at the Norfolk Hotel was perfunctory pub grub–fine after a few beers, but nothing memorable.
That’s changed in recent years as they’ve invested in a dedicated chef, modern kitchen and a raised dining area tucked amongst the plants and 130-year-old stone walls.
They also put in a BBQ smoker pit that lures in punters with its mouth-watering, caveman aromas.
The heritage-listed building has always been beautiful and now it has food to match.
My broccoli, herb and haloumi fritters ($9) were fried to a nice crisp, and the accompanying lemon and dill yoghurt dip was a refreshing foil to the crispy batter.
Yes it’s fried, but it’s full of veggies, and it’s such a satisfying, well-rounded dish that even dedicated carnivores will be sated.
Our wordman Stephen Pollock picked up the steamed Cockburn mussels ($25), noting “the highlight of the dish is the rich and spicy sugo, which was dotted with whole roasted cherry tomatoes, and laced with chilli and basil.
“The sweetness and latent heat combine in perfect harmony.
“The accompanying grilled ciabatta was perfect for mopping up the puddle of tasty sauce at the bottom of my bowl.
“I was slightly disappointed with the mussels, which were a bit on the small side, but perhaps I’m used to the larger specimens I get at the Belgium Beer Cafe in Perth. “
The Herald’s fake-ad creator Matt Eeles went for the spicy rojo rotisserie chicken ($24), calling it “the perfect light lunch with juicy slices of chicken thigh and ancient grain salad which burst to life thanks to the sweet pomegranate seeds.”
His only quibble was the quantity: “It’s so good I could have eaten a truckload more.”
The specials board caught the eye of veteran Chook food reviewer Jenny D’Anger, who went for the vegetarian pasta. She says “my zucchini pasta was great; a slight crunch to the spaghetti which was coated in a light and deliciously oily sauce, with the perfect hint of chilli”.
The food comes out fast and the staff are friendly. Ms D’Anger says “call me easily pleased, but when the guy behind the counter comes out to fetch a bottled water rather than pointing me to the fridge, and magically knows I will need four glasses, I was impressed”.
The beer selection has always been strong, with the Norfolk being one of the early adopters of quality craft beers, and these days it’s at the cutting edge of the weirdy beer movement.
There’s a rotating cast on offer alongside the standard lagers, and you’re bound to find a curious fruity beer or a bitter hoppy monster on tap.
By DAVID BELL
47 South Terrace, Fremantle