Tombland is quickly becoming one of the busiest areas in Norwich, with the well established Zizzis, Prezzo and Edith Cavell Pub always being popular, alongside bars like Vodka Revolution, Revolution Cuba and All Bar One (which all do great food as well btw!) there is something for every occasion and taste.
Giggling Squid is right in between Zizzis and the newly opened Erpingham House (an all plant-based restaurant I cannot wait to try), and was my first experience of true ‘Thai Food’. Before this, I had only had a homemade thai green curry, which while is lovely I’m not sure Tesco curry paste really counts as authentic Thai cuisine.
I would definitely recommend ordering a few different dishes so you can try a variety of things. The menu is composed of starters, curries, stir-fries, noodle dishes, and sides, and we opted for the vegetable spring rolls, Panaeg curry, Gra Pao stir fry and brown rice. The spring rolls were piping hot and not greasy like your usual takeaway, the curry was made with coconut milk (as all bar one of the curries are, which is what makes them distinguishable from the tomato or dairy cream based curries of India) and the perfect blend of richness , sweet and spice. The stir fry had chillis and basil, alongside the usual ginger, garlic and soy sauce flavours. Of course we ordered off the vegetarian menu (which they have printed separately making it even easier to order), and the dishes mostly consisted of baby sweetcorn, petit pois peas, peppers, pak choi and tofu. As all the dishes are made freshly I’m sure you could ask for any of these changed or left out, and they also change the spice level according to your asking (we kept them as they are, but did avoid the fresh chilli slices in the stir fry as they were pretty hot!). The one bowl of rice was also enough for both our dishes as we had the spring rolls to dip into the curry as well (maybe not the best etiquette, but the curry sauce just tasted toooo good). They also do coconut rice, jasmine rice and sticky rice to suit everyone, but my friend and I both felt the brown rice had the right amount of savoury. almost nuttiness that complimented the slight coconut curry flavour.
The decor of the two floor restaurant was absolutely beautiful, but you can also sit outside, as we chose as ‘al fresco’ is my favourite way to eat.
A near by river also is also lovely for a pre or post dinner walk around.
They also have an extensive drinks list consisting of both ‘traditional’ and more ‘Thai’ inspired drinks. I opted for a ‘Thai Coconut’ – gin and fresh coconut flavoured rum served with Fever Tree ginger ale and a squeeze of lime, which was so pretty and the perfect balance of sweet coconut and sharp ginger. While not cheap (at just under £7), they are not any more than you would expect to pay at most bars. The dishes themselves were very reasonably priced, at around £10 and sides around £3.50, which for such fresh, authentic dishes I thought was amazing value!
While there are actually nearly 30 Giggling Squids across the country, the building’s design felt unique, niche and like an independent restaurant.
If you have never tried Thai before, or are a regular and already know you love it, love food so spicy it makes you cry or prefer more delicate flavours, want a place to catch up with friends or a more intimate dining experience, I would definitely recommend Giggling Squid. Utterly impressed.
Zizzis has long been known as one of the best chain restaurants for vegans. They’ve always been really accomadating to change their dishes, it recently they’ve added even more vegan dishes to their menu, and if you ask they will give you a seperate menu with just vegan option. I find this so much easier to look at rather than searching for the ‘V’ sign next to everything! They also have loads of options that they don’t mention on their main menu; vegan garlic bread; bruschetta; lentil ragu side; 2 proper desserts (not just fruit salad and sorbet!) and much more.
Starter of bruschetta with super green pesto, cherry tomatoes and basil. The pesto is the best vegan pesto I’ve had, and I love adding some extra chilli oil which they have on every table to add even more flavour.
The new vegan pizza just for January – vegan cheese, avocado slices, beetroot falafel things, sundried tomatoes, spinach and chilli flakes.
They also have three other vegan pizzas, and an array of toppings (my favourites are olives and grilled peppers) so you can create your perfect pizza! They same goes for their pasta; starting with a basic spaghetti, tomato sauces, basil and fresh cherry tomatoes (which is delicious all in itself btw), you can then add anything else you wish.
This is the ‘super Zucca salad’ that isn’t actually on the vegan menu (as it contains goats cheese), but we swapped this for the vegan cheese. INot every restaurant may be as accommodating to do this as the cheese is frozen, but we adding field mushrooms (from the pasta add ons) which are cooked, so the cheese melted slightly with that and it was just perfect. The salad itself consists of courgette, roast butternut squash, a tiny hint of mint, green lentils and mixed leaves which I’ve had before so know I love. It also normally comes with a white balsamic dressing, which they swapped for balsamic.
Zizzis also offered another vegan salad, with broccoli, cannelloni beans, purple basil and pesto.
The lentil ragu which normally comes with pasta, but I switched to fried potatoes cause I was on a bit of potato obsession at the time. The ragu has a really rich flavour and cooked perfectly, not to ‘mushy’ which I find often puts people off these legumes (which are a fab source of protein as well!)
One of the highlights of eating vegan at Zizzis has to be the sweet stuff; dessert calzone filled with banana, blueberries, and topped with a coconut chocolate ripple ice cream. If like me you just love anything bread and carby, this will be a winner. I also loved getting some of the warm banana and adding it to the chocolate torte as chocolate banana isnsuch a good combo. We also ordered a chocolate torte with vegan honeycomb (!!) and topped with ice cream. The coconut flavour really came through in the ice cream, and it was perfect with the torte as it was incredibly rich (imagine a creamy, thick ganache which I have no idea how they made taste so good without lashings of cream).
Going halves on two dishes is my favourite way to eat, so you get to try a bit of everything!
Zizzis also does an amazing 40% off student discount! Starters are around £5, mains just over a tenner, and desserts about £6. In my opinion, the only thing that stops this place being absolutely perfect is the drinks; I;ve tried the ‘bramble g&t’ which for over £6 barely tasted of gin, and the white wine I had this visit was okay, but slightly underwhelming at nearly £5 for 175ml.
Overall, Zizzis is still one of, if not my absolute favourite places to eat out (with other vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters alike).
Returning for a second year, the Shena Louise organised amother event which bought together tonnes of vegan food stalls, beauty products, charity stalls, animal welfare, clothes and more as well as hundreds of people to enjoy it.
Debs pantry – I tried the carrot cake and sticky toffee, the latter of which was delicious with chunks of date and a toffee glaze.
Munchy seeds – available in many shops all over the country and in 8 flavours – honey, chilli, omega (think soy sauce), sesame, choccy apricot, super berry, savoury crunch and choccy ginger. These are great to eat on their own, in smoothies, cereal, salads, pasta, and my favourite way; with yogurt and frozen berries.
Rude veganz clothing
Biscotti – definitely serve with a coffee or tea as they are pretty hard on their own.
Two six nine catering – their bakewell slice was as delicious as any ‘non vegan’ I’ve tried, moist almond sponge, sweet jam and crisp pastry.
Gourmet nut butters – my favourite flavour was banana bread and vanilla espresso, but others included white chocolate raspberry, cocoa and carrot cake.
Food cycle – giving advice for making the most out of your food ‘waste’, cheap recipe ideas and they even made a delicious vegetable curry.
Naked greenz – wheat grass
Boudicca brewery – vegan Norfolk ale
My mother and I followed the fayre with a lovely walk around the city in the sun, stumbling across a little unique gift shop, and finishing in the new gelato shop. I had the dairy free strawberry sorbet, which I have to say was amazing, not watery or icy and you could taste the real fruit
I purposely haven’t titled this the ‘meat free challenge’ or forcing anyone to go vegetarian for the week, but as a start I challenge everyone to think about where your food is from, how it’s been produced, how far it’s come, as well as how nutritious is it for you. These are the three top tips I’d start with to help you.
1) WHERE – only buy free range, local, meat from the butchers.
2) HOW MUCH – instead of making meat the main part of a meal, try out new recipes that focus more on full flavoured beans, lentils, rice, potatoes, and vegetables.
3) WHY – the most common reason people eat meat is because it’s what they’ve been raised with, so try asking your parents/ siblings/flatmates to join you buy limiting your meat to say once a day.
And if it’s because ‘vegan food costs so much’ then you just need to look at the price of a tin of beans, and the price of a steak to know that this really shouldn’t be an excuse.
Another of the common myths about vegetarianism is that you ‘eat like no protein’. Again, this is completely inaccurate and you only have to Google meat free sources of protein to find there is an abundance – try things like Quorn, beans, lentils, quinoa, plant based protein powder, soya yogurt, and tofu.
For the best places to eat out vegetarian on this week, check out this great post by Morgan, as well as my local Norwich restaurant reviews.
Pop up shops (run every month)