Straight from the horse’s mouth
Mark Nicholls and his wife Sharon enjoy a cosy fireside dinner at The Black Horse in Norwich’s trendy Golden Triangle
As soon as you walk into The Black Horse, you can’t help but be struck by the atmosphere.
We arrived on a Saturday evening, with the pub already busy with diners and drinkers.
The balance between those enjoying a couple of pints and others out for dinner was seamless, and a credit to the ambience created by pub owner Rose Hanison.
My wife Sharon and I found ourselves on a corner table by the wood burner where we could study the straightforward, uncrowded menu with its selection of snacks, starters, interesting mains, traditional pub classics, and ever-tempting desserts.
While the list of cocktails was tempting, I opted for a pint of Doom Bar from the good choice of ale on offer and Sharon, the designated driver, chose an elderflower pressé.
The pub boasts a long history; built in 1714, it has traded continuously as a public house and has always been known by the name it carries to this day.
Back in the Victorian and Edwardian days, the large garden was a bowling green and you can see photos of the bowlers with their amazing moustaches on the walls in the pub. Books line shelves and other prints show Norwich in days gone by including the great flood, the building of the cathedral and the market.
The garden, with its terrace, now has an outdoor seating area for the summer months, there are plenty of parking spaces, and the inn is dog friendly – truly a pub for all seasons.
But let’s get down to the food.
I chose the salt beef with pickled onions, charred chilli and smoked garlic aioli (£6.50) to start and Sharon opted for the pastrami salmon (£7) with cream cheese and pickled cucumbers on homemade wholemeal bread.
For the main course she chose Norfolk sausages – a traditional bangers and mash with seasonal greens and shallots (£12.50) – while I enjoyed the superb chilli and garlic crab linguini (£11.50), which had tremendous flavour, with a touch of spice yet light too, so I was very pleased with my decision.
On the menu during our visit was also fillet of hake (£14.50), Gressingham duck (£16) and peanut sticky tofu (£13), but Rose is keen to stress that The Black Horse menu changes regularly and is versatile with locally sourced produce to create seasonal menus, so always expect something different.
The pub classics are wholesome with good portions for big eaters – the cheese and bacon burger (£13.50) and the ale battered haddock were popular choices (£12.50), as was the 28-day sirloin steak at £19.50.
From the dessert offerings, the lemon crème brulée was tempting but instead we opted for the apricot bread and butter pudding (£5.50) and the chocolate brownie (£5.50). There’s also a Norfolk Cheese Board for £9.50 which caught my eye.
Late in 2015, Rose undertook major renovation work and breathed new life back into the building, creating the relaxed bar area serving a range of real ales on tap, bottled beers and a selection of wines, complemented by the restaurant-style dining area.
As Rose says: ‘Our ever changing menu offers a wide range of styles of food, from restaurant a la carte options to pub classics, bar snacks and sandwiches. We also have a lunch menu, do a very popular Sunday roast and offer breakfast between 9 and 11am on a Saturday and Sunday morning.’
There are always vegan and gluten free options and a popular children’s menu.
A landmark on Earlham Road, close to the centre of Norwich and still independently run, The Black Horse has a consistent proud history, and looks set for a bright future, too.
Reviewed in Feast issue 24 – March 2018