Eating and shopping!
Sarah Hardy heads to The Exchange, the latest foodie venue at Jarrold’s department store in the city.
So – eating in a shop? Mmm, does it sound right? Can there be much of an atmosphere? Won’t it always play second fiddle to the main business?
Well, Jarrold’s has invested in its eateries – Benji’s on the first floor was reworked two or three years ago and Chapters, the coffee shop in the book department, is another new addition.
Now the old Metro café, on the lower ground floor, has been reinvented as The Exchange.
Its rebirth marks the latest development of the store’s foodie offerings, taking the number to five overall. Last year, The Deli was substantially expanded, with a new wine bar, and both have been hailed as great successes. To such an extent, in fact, that wine bar has doubled in size, with more seating now available.
The Exchange is a continuation of this, with the same cool vibe throughout, with much use of copper, a trendy tiled counter, lots of little bistro style table and chairs, plus a lovely large round table for bigger gatherings which looked great fun.
Pride of place is a wood fired pizza oven which, rumour has it, was a devil to install, but does have that ‘wow’ factor – and the pizzas, with sourdough and gluten free base options, are pretty good, too!
The menu is accessible and packed with firm favourites and there’s a nice healthy feel to much of it. Plenty of salads, soups and fresh pasta dishes dominate, with a wide choice of sandwiches available, too. You’d think it would be common sense to offer lighter meals in the day, but so many places seem to think we always want a huge plateful of nosh!
Special mention must be made of the puds which are really rather fab – and I have tried a few of them. The waffles with berries and a white chocolate sauce speak for themselves while the little doughnuts, with lime curd, are a real favourite.
But I met Norfolk foodie Charlie Hodson for a gossip and lunch – which is pretty much what The Exchange is perfect for. Big fat green olives and a selection of breads and oils fuelled us as we checked out the menu. I love soups, especially spicy Tom Yum, but couldn’t resist a pizza. In a rare moment of not being too greedy, I opted for a smaller charcuterie one, crammed with cured meats, baby rocket, duck egg, smoked mozzarella and pesto, plus a mixed side salad. With its sourdough base, it was really delicious! I have also tried their baked macaroni cheese, with spinach and tomatoes, and my eye caught Bourbon whisky marinated chicken with salad – next time.
Charlie went for a chicken and avocado sarnie on white bloomer bread and tucked into it with gusto.
With master of wine Nick Adams on board, the store’s wines are ever improving (and expanding) and my glass of Italian Pinot Grigio rosé La Voluta was very refreshing – and it was hard but necessary to turn down a second!
There’s a good children’s menu, with pizzas, fish and chips, and a pasta choice on offer, plus a dessert and a drink, all for £6. I think the chocolate and banana pizza would have been right up my children’s street, if they were still little and cute – as opposed to ‘challenging’ teenagers!
Add in a separate breakfast menu, where a galette pizza, complete with meats, avocado and Mexican beans topped with a free range fried egg, sounds fun, and an afternoon tea menu which includes Jarrold’s iconic scones, and you are pretty much sorted!
The Exchange is a very welcome addition to the city’s daytime dining scene. I’ve visited two or three times since it opened and thoroughly enjoyed all my visits. The service is lovely, it is a very good place to meet people and you can, of course, include a spot of retail therapy. The beauty hall does it for me everytime!
Reviewed in Feast issue 28 – July 2018