Well, Cosy Club is really quite something, with a very striking décor. Located in the former NatWest bank on London Street, right in the heart of Norwich, it has been lovingly restored to something quite special.
From the steps that lead up to the enormous front door, to the high glass-domed ceiling, stately Georgian pillars, chandelier lighting, dramatic fabrics and wallpapers, the new restaurant and its lavish bar have more than their share of oomph.
Much has been made of the listed building’s original features, including an internal stone staircase and the bank vaults, and there’s a very pleasing Art Deco vibe to it all although the bosses say they don’t want to pigeon-hole themselves into one particular look.
It’s certainly eclectic, with staff in vintage outfits that might include braces, headscarves, much check, floral frocks and more. It’s all great fun and a tad tongue-in-cheek.
Set over three floors, the main dining room, on the ground floor, can seat up to 180 diners and proudly claims to serve British food. There are some real favourites including fish and chips, game stew, macaroni cheese, burgers, steaks, salads and roast chicken. Desserts include a chocolate and orange torte and their hugely popular melting chocolate bombe which probably says all it needs to!
Prices are very accessible, with mains from just under a tenner, and there seem to be plenty of tempting offers like a breakfast club deal and cocktail specials.
Tapas is a popular option and the buzzy opening night saw many of us invited guests tuck into Scotch eggs, with eggs wrapped in black pudding, popcorn bacon and pulled chicken and chorizo with crispy potatoes. They were quite hefty numbers and three dishes (at £13.95) is definitely enough
for one! I’d have swapped in a veggie or salad choice but it was great to try a little something!
I returned with deputy editor Emma for brunch a couple of days later as it is always good to see a place operating ‘normally’. As we examined the interiors again, with Emma just as impressed, I ordered the Very Elegant Brunch (what else!) with masses of bacon, avocado, kale, tomatoes, a poached egg and lord knows what else. It was great – colourful with plenty of flavour in there, too.
Emma, quite the expert these days with veggie breakfasts, went for their version and was pleased, too, praising the scrambled eggs in particular. Mine cost £8.25 and hers was £7.95 and both dishes seemed good value to me.
For some reason, possibly sheer greed, we felt like something a little sweet after our healthy dishes so we tried their Sharing Pudding for two (£9.95) which gave us tastes of cinnamon doughnuts, lemon posset, chocolate brownies and salted caramel shortbread. We didn’t quite come to blows but it was hard to share as they were all lovely – although the slurpy posset was literally hard to share as you had to spoon it up. Just as well we are good friends!
There are separate vegan and gluten free menus, and mention must be made of the extensive cocktail and mocktail lists – I’ll be after a Cherry Bakewell cocktail next time I go in. With rum and amaretto, it sounds pretty good to me! There are also several gins, vodkas and rums on offer, with cocktail master classes also held.
However, this isn’t really the place for local produce; I only spotted Wild Knight vodka from near Swaffham on the drinks menu although there are plans to introduce local beers.
The chain, founded in 2010, has more than 20 restaurants in other locations, including Ipswich, Manchester and Liverpool. It was set up in the West Country by three friends, Dave Reid, Alex Reilley and Jake Bishop, and two, Alex and Jake, are still involved – it’s Alex who keeps a firm eye on the look of a place, heading up the design team.
Mention must be made of the three private dining rooms: The Oval Room, on the ground floor, has space for around 12 people, while The Vault, down a level, can accommodate around 20 and includes a private bar.
The upstairs AW Russell room, which can fit 25 to 30 diners is, in a nod to the building’s history, named after a gun-carrying bank messenger of the former National Provincial Bank – which occupied the site before NatWest.
They look like great party spaces to me – we just need an excuse for a knees
Reviewed in Feast issue 34 – March 2019