6 Pottergate, Norwich, NR2 1DS
Tel: 01603 986641
GPS: 52.629804, 1.292570
There is a problem with last-minute plans. And that’s last-minute restaurant bookings. The problem being, when it’s Friday evening, and you’re looking for a Saturday night table in Norwich, you’re too late to the game. Our best chance, I realised, was just to try a walk in. One restaurant which stood out as a likely candidate was Yard, one of few (or maybe the only) no-booking restaurant in Norwich. I sauntered up and was lucky enough to get a table, one of only a handful that were unoccupied. It was another busy night out in Norwich.
Yard, established in 2021 by George Colley and Nathaniel Crothers, is essentially a pasta, cocktail and beer joint, with a basement bar and a small yard out the back (yards are a thing here – there are entire websites dedicated to Norwich yards, past and present). It has a no-frills decor and affordable prices, and unsurprisingly it seems very popular with the city’s student body; upon crossing the threshold I raised the average age of the patrons by several years, and brought down the level of cool by a similarly large percentage. But no matter; the welcome within was prompt and warm.
The menu here kicks off with sides, a selection of sourdough breads, salads, leaves and burrata. Eager for a quick bite – as the Horlicks hour was fast approaching – I skipped these and went straight to the pasta dishes, opting for rigatoni with sausage, crème fraîche and fennel; when it arrived the rigatoni were perfectly al dente and the sauce simply packed with flavour, helped along by generous gratings of parmesan. The less exotic bucatini cacio e pepe was no less flavoursome, the bucatini pasta loaded with creamy cheese and pepper. Both dishes far exceeded all expectations, so much so that we decided to stay on for another course.
That next course was a gorgonzola and mascarpone torte, the cheeses sandwiched in a granola loaf, with walnuts and honey, a combination which was as mouthwatering as it sounds. The cheeses oozed out from between the crunchy granola slices, perfect with the sweetness of the honey and crunch of the nuts. It was astonishingly good.
The wine list here is brief and awkwardly anonymous. Three reds – advertised only as Tempranillo, Sangiovese and Carmenère – competed for my attention with three whites, listed as Vinho Verde, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. I cut my losses and opted for a draught of Camden Pale, an unpasteurised beer made in London with American hops. It was delicious, and helped my pasta down a treat.
Yard is a source of simple, no-frills, but absolutely delicious plates. And it offers amazing value. If I ever make it back to Norwich, Yard will be first on my list of must-visit restaurants. For this quality, at these prices, how could anyone resist?
Prices: The pasta dishes were £6.50 and £7.50 apiece, the gorgonzola torte £7, and a brioche bun stuffed with salted caramel ice cream was £5. The cocktails, if that’s your mood for the evening, are £8 each. The entire bill for two diners came to a mere £31. Incredible. Naturally we left a hefty tip. (5/11/21)