After spending over a year trying to avoid economy bangers and ridiculous egg situations on my search for the ultimate fry up I am still hungry for more. Having eaten breakfast it is now time for lunch, Sunday roast to be precise. Join me as I try out different roast dinners, I will be trying everything from civilised restaurant's to rowdy pubs and supermarket cafe's to stack it high carverys. It's a difficult job but someone has to do it so join me on my search for roast dinner perfection!

Monday, 11 December 2017

The Golden Star - Norwich

Christmas menu review

57 Colegate
Norwich
NR3 1DD

Christmas menu served throughout December
(Booking essential)



A nightime inspection was a first for me, as was a Christmas dinner inspection. The Golden Star on Colegate was lit up nicely in the darkness when we arrived.



  
We'd been here before for breakfast in 2014, you can read the breakfast review here. It's certainly a really cosy and traditional pub so it seemed like a good place to enjoy a Christmas meal.




There's the main room out the front and this smaller room out the back where our table was reserved.




I promised my wife there would be Christmas crackers and breathed a huge sigh of relief when I spotted them on the table. She was struggling to understand why the two course Christmas menu cost £22.50 and the two course Sunday lunch cost £12.95, my only answer was that there would be Christmas crackers!




At least if the Christmas cracker jokes didn't entertain us there was a selection of board games nearby.




Our table was beside the window looking out onto Duke Street.




Ok, time to get the party started!




With Christmas hats on we checked out the contents of the crackers. I really struggled with the charade but quite enjoyed the challenge!




My wife was happy to go for two courses but I persuaded her to go for all three courses in the end. The Golden Star had thought about vegetarians and vegans too when planning their Christmas menu.




We're no wine connoisseurs so we ordered the cheapest bottle of white on the menu at £12.90. It seemed like a reasonable price to us and tasted ok so we were happy enough.


Starters


I chose the duck rillettes, potted confit duck leg served with toasted sourdough bread and plum chutney.




The tender and moist duck leg tasted so good I could have happily eaten it all straight out of the pot. There were other items on the plate though so I resisted the urge and set about combining the flavours.




Duck leg with plum chutney over toasted sourdough was a winning combination. The plum chutney was divine and the sharpness of it counteracted the richness of the duck. As starters go I was impressed, so far so good!




My wife's starter was wild mushroom and chestnut pate tart. 


 Mains


My main course was roast Norfolk turkey served with pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, roasted root vegetables and gravy. It was exactly as described on the menu but I felt a tad disappointed to be eating a Christmas dinner without stuffing or sprouts.




 There were two large slices of turkey which was moist and tender, the gravy was sublime.




Great pigs in blankets and nice large roast potatoes with crispy edges.




The cranberry sauce was excellent, plenty of it too.




The roasted vegetables consisted of carrot, swede and parsnip. All nice enough but I'd have liked to have seen far more veg on the plate.




My wife's main course was butternut squash and pistachio loaf served with roast potatoes, roasted root vegetables and gravy.


Dessert


We both had Christmas pudding for dessert, a vegan version was available for my wife. We both agreed it stole the show and was definitely the highlight of the meal. I didn't see any redcurrants as stated on the menu but the pudding was rich and delicious, coated in brandy butter which had us literally scraping the plate at the end. 



I love Christmas food and nothing quite beats a good Christmas dinner. On the way home from the city a few weeks back I spotted the Christmas menu outside The Golden Star, I decided it might be a nice thing to do with my wife. To be honest though she took some convincing as the price tag of a Christmas meal seemed to be almost double that of a Sunday lunch. In the end though sheer persuasion and the fact that The Golden Star were offering vegan options sealed the deal so we booked a table for two...

Upon entering - The Golden Star has a homely and traditional interior with heaps of character. It was nice and warm when we arrived and there was a hive of activity at the bar. There are two main rooms here, one at the front where the main bar is and another along the side with a smaller bar. We would be sitting in the side room which suited us as it seemed quite cosy in there. Our table was all set up with cutlery wrapped in a festive serviette, a candle giving a warm glow and a pair of Christmas crackers. An excellent place to enjoy a Christmas meal I felt. 9/10

Service - We received a warm welcome and was offered drinks before being shown to our table. All of our food choices had been pre-ordered so we enjoyed a few glasses of wine whilst waiting for the different courses to arrive. We were asked if everything was ok during the meal and again at the end so there was plenty of opportunity to raise any concerns. The staff seemed keen to please and the courses arrived at just the right time. 9/10

Type of roast - Ready served on the plate, no shared veg dilemmas here.

Choices available - Four starter, five main and four dessert.

Cracker contents - A hat, small gifts (a tape measure and card trick) and a joke which also featured trivia and a guessing game. It kept us entertained for a while! 7/10

Contents
Starter: Potted confit duck leg served with toasted sourdough bread and plum chutney.
Main: Roast Norfolk turkey served with pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, roasted root vegetables (carrot, swede and parsnip) and gravy.
Dessert: Christmas pudding with brandy butter. 
A decent combination of ingredients but some stuffing would have been nice and the Christmas pudding didn't appear to include redcurrants as stated on the menu. 7/10

Vegetable portions - Nice to see them served on the plate but not really enough and a bigger selection would have been nice. For me a few sprouts make a Christmas dinner. 4/10

Presentation - Each course was presented well and the main and dessert were both piping hot. The lambs lettuce (or it could have been watercress) worked well on the starter but seemed slightly out of place on the mains. 8/10

The food
Starter: Tender duck served with a stunning plum chutney, I thoroughly enjoyed this over the warm toasted sourdough, a great starter! 
Main: The Norfolk turkey served here wasn't too dry and covered in cranberry sauce was a real joy to eat. The pigs in blankets were pretty nice and the roast potatoes large and crispy on the outside. The roasted root vegetables were cut into small chunks, they tasted ok but the veg side of things was a bit disappointing to be honest.
Dessert: Desserts are usually my least favourite course but on this occasion the Christmas pudding covered in brandy butter was my highlight of the entire meal. I don't recall ever eating such a rich and delicious Christmas pudding as this one and the brandy butter melted over it beautifully. 
So an impressive starter, a slightly limited main course that lacked a few of my favourite Christmas dinner items and a surprise victory with the dessert. 8/10

Gravy and sauces - The gravy was spot on, a good consistency and really rich in flavour. The cranberry sauce was excellent too and there was plenty of it which was a bonus. 9/10

Veggie/vegan option
Starter: Wild mushroom and chestnut pate tart.
Main: Butternut squash and pistachio loaf served with roast potatoes, roasted root vegetables and gravy.
Dessert: Christmas pudding (Vegan)

Words from the wife - 

As has been mentioned by the inspector I couldn't understand why we were paying double just because a Sunday roast was labelled 'Christmas Dinner' but as I was promised some pretty exciting crackers and 'there will be wine glasses too' (!!??!!) I threw caution to the wind and signed up for our office party. The cats couldn't come which was a bit of a blow but I'm sure they had great fun photocopying their fluffy behinds whilst we were out. 

Anyway enough of that nonsense... The crackers were great, loved the crackers. A tape measure and playing cards. Not bad. The inspector wore his hat with aplomb, this is how much he was trying to prove it was not a rip off to pay double for pub food in December.

The tart which was not a tart but a pie as far as I could see was cold but gets a point for having mushrooms in, not sure if it was meant to be cold. The main course was good, too small compared to a usual pub roast dinner though. Lush roasties and veg. A wider variety would've been usual but they were done well. The vegan option was a of tube of orange sludge with little flavour.. am I selling it? Not sure if there were actually pistachio's in it but there seemed no sign as far as taste was concerned. Perhaps it was just too refined for me. I wouldn't go here again for vegan fayre when there are so many better options in Norwich but if you have a small appetite it could be for you.

The saving grace was the Christmas Pud which was scrumptious. And as I can't usually fit desert in due to the main being too filling at least the fact the other courses left such a gaping hole was a good thing in the end! 

Value for money: The three course meal cost £25 per person. It was a great meal but afterwards I could understand my wife's initial concern over price. It seemed really expensive compared to going for a Sunday roast yet apart from a Christmas cracker everything seemed pretty much the same to us except the main was a bit smaller. Many places are charging a similar price though and I can only imagine it's because it's a Christmas menu there's a premium to pay. The total cost of the meal including the bottle of wine came to £62.90 and although we left feeling adequately full up I could have eaten much more. This did have an advantage in the end though as not feeling totally stuffed we went onto gigs at The Birdcage and Waterfront afterwards. 4/10

Overall - A warm welcome and cosy environment to enjoy a Christmas meal and it certainly felt Christmassy inside. The food tasted great and each course arrived at just the right time allowing a pause between courses. The starter and dessert were the highlights for me and although the main was enjoyable it didn't quite feel like Christmas dinner without stuffing or sprouts, that's just my personal preference though. The only thing I didn't quite understand was the price when compared to the Sunday lunch menu. I think next time I'd go along for a two course Sunday lunch saving £10 and hope that turkey was on the menu. 7/10