Cromer has a special place in the heart of my family. My great grandparents owned a shop there, my Mum spent a lot of time there growing up, my Dad had his first chef job there and I worked on the seafront there every Summer for 8 years. I scooped ice cream from a little shop on the Promenade looking straight out onto the ever-unpredictable sea. As far as views from work go, you couldn’t really beat it.
Though a spate of new restaurants have opened up over the last 10 years in Cromer centre, few have really lasted. One thing that has always done well with tourists and locals alike in Cromer is fish and chips. There’s a couple of places that have always done great fish and chips in Cromer and they always have a queue.
Galton Blackiston of Michelin-starred Morston Hall, opened up No1 Cromer a few years ago alongside his wife Tracey and another local couple, Spencer and Rachael Gray. A fish and chip takeaway with a casual restaurant downstairs and the slightly more formal, and certainly less traditional, restaurant Upstairs @ No1 above. I’d been wanting to try it out for a while. Reading Jay Rayner’s review bumped it up a few places on my to visit list. In fact, when we moved back to Norfolk it was the first restaurant we visited.
We chose an option each from the “Bites” menu with the idea that they would be like starters. In reality, the portions were bigger than we expected. One would probably serve you for a light dinner, especially with dessert. The Korean squid bun (£6.50) was really visually striking. A black bun with a smattering of sesame seeds and filled with generous amounts of crispy fried squid, Gochujang mayonnaise and coriander. Everything was well balanced and it wasn’t greasy at all.
The baja fish tacos with pea puree, chilli and lime mayo and coriander (£6.50) were equally generously sized. The fish was perched (couldn’t resist sorry…!) on a bed of shredded cabbage and the smashed peas. The batter was unbelievably light and if their fish and chips are half as well as cooked as the fish in these tacos were, then I can see why people queue down the road for them! The square of newspaper under the tacos may have been a subtle nod to the traditional chippy but this food is far from that.
For main we shared one of the special main dishes. It was a giant pan with a whole lobster, crab, lemon, sweet roasted red peppers, saffron rice and samphire. I loved the idea, almost like a Norfolk take on a paella. I can’t remember the exact price and the menu has changed since I went – I think it was around £30 but easily enough for two to share, possibly three if you’d had a couple of the bites. There was so much food, luckily they were happy to box it all up for us to take home to enjoy again later. Sadly this meant we weren’t able to manage dessert this time so I guess we’ll have to return… I’ve heard good things!
The view from Upstairs @ No1 Cromer was spectacular. We were fortunate that it was a particularly sunny day and watching the sun set over the sparkling blue sea was a lovely way to spend a Sunday evening. Inside is more formal than downstairs but not overly dressy.
I had a glass of house white (£5 for a small glass) and Paul enjoyed a bottle of Galton’s own “No1” ale (£4.50).
I’d love for more places like Upstairs @ No1 Cromer to spring up. I think there’s a real market for modern, inventive food along this stretch of the coast. I noticed that there’s a lot of gluten free options on their menu too. It’s a great addition to North Norfolk’s food scene and I’m sure it’ll continue its success. I look forward to returning and trying dessert!
Price: ££, around £65 for two including service but not dessert.
Parking: None on site but several car parks in Cromer are easily walkable. Runton Road car park is probably closest.