Nestled in the quiet street of St Benedicts, most noticeable for its bright turquoise exterior and squiggly pink neon sign, is Farmyard. Opened earlier this year and priding itself as “Norwich’s first ‘Bistronomy’ style eatery where a relaxed ‘bistro’ experience meets the top-quality produce and vibrant flavours normally found in ‘gastronomic’ fine dining joints”, you could be forgiven for rolling your eyes at the buzzword-laden introduction. After all, Norwich is no stranger to great dining establishments, casual and formal, and the concept of fine-dining food served in an informal setting is hardly a new one – some of London’s best restaurants are exactly that. I’d go as far as to argue that any casual restaurant not serving “top-quality produce” and “vibrant flavours” will soon be struggling if Norwich’s food scene continues to blossom.
Description aside, the menu at Farmyard for Norfolk Restaurant Week (which is actually almost two weeks long) sounded appealing. I’m usually sceptical of set menus where the most obviously cheap and unadventurous dishes are combined so you can eat for a fraction of the price at somewhere usually more expensive; for me, that’s not really experiencing the “real” restaurant. However far from being unadventurous and bog standard, Farmyard’s menu sounded fresh and different, with several dishes I could happily have eaten for every course.
I was only in Norfolk for a couple of days, so we had to visit at 2.15pm on a Tuesday, meaning we were the only people in the restaurant. Despite having the place to ourselves, the open front kitchen, background music and staff meeting going on meant that it wasn’t too quiet or flat.
I was driving so no wine for me, but the ginger and elderflower non-alcoholic fizz I had was very refreshing and Paul and Mum enjoyed their wines. The starters we all chose happened to be Asian-inspired fish dishes. I had the cured salmon with potato, dill and yuzu – the whole dish was very light, fruity and fresh and reminiscent of Paul’s cured yellowfin tuna and yuzu dish at City Social.
For main I chose the pheasant breast with parsnip, quince and smoked bacon, and you could choose a side so we all went for the duck fat chips with garlic aioli. The pheasant was really tasty, the bacon was a very fine crumb and added a nice saltiness and the parsnip was pureed into a very sweet and creamy mash, so it was nice to have the salty bacon to balance it out. I couldn’t really taste the quince, and I probably should have chosen vegetables as my side instead of chips as, despite being a good size, my pheasant breast looked a little lonely on its plate – but that was my choice and I have no regrets! The chips were so crispy and golden on the outside with a dreamily fluffy middle. Mum said she’d visit again just to eat the chips, they were that good!
Unfortunately, because we ate so many chips we ran out of room for dessert* but at £15 for 2 courses (or £20 if you left room for 3 courses), this meal was brilliant value and the service was great – we didn’t feel rushed at all, which you can when you’re the only people in the place. I’m keen to return for dinner at Farmyard to try the full menu. I loved the décor and watching the chefs at work and the idea of the food being as locally sourced and as seasonal as possible, is something I’ll always get behind.
*Obviously I did manage some cake at Figbar about an hour later – I had a blackberry, fennel and chocolate orange dessert which was unusual but beautiful as always. Read my full review of Figbar here.