Over the centuries Norwich’s historic King Street has been packed with pubs. Now a new bar and restaurant, in an ancient building, is the Last Pub Standing. ROWAN MANTELL popped in for a bite to eat
We visit Norwich’s Last Pub Standing
IT WAS icy outside, but within seconds of stepping into the Last Pub Standing, I was feeling the love. The welcome was warm, the atmosphere friendly, the décor particularly attractive blending wooden floorboards, fires in pretty tiled fireplaces, textured gold and silver ceilings, stylish yet comfortable sofas seating arranged in sociable groupings, chairs and tables for more serious eating. There was even a line of seats with luggage racks above styled to look like a vintage railway carriage, and a window (literally) on to the past with a glazed section of floor exposing the cellar below and a glass cabinets of curiosities linked to the recent refit.
The quirky steam-punk style pictures on the walls, and theme of travel, are carried through to the menu. The concept is based on street food from around the world so main courses range from Indonesian chicken satay to Argentinian steak and from South African Boerewors (sausages with spicy beans and maize) on to Vietnamese chicken salad.
The Last Pub Standing has three atmospheric restaurant rooms upstairs but on a quiet weekday evening we chose a window seat in the friendly bar area, and began our food journey in Lebanon (for me) and Scotland (for my husband.) His Cullen Skink was a hearty haddock, leek and potato broth, served with bread. My Lebanese meze was an impressively laden plate of falafel, hummus, tabbouleh (a salad of bulgar and parsley and much more besides) and sambousek (a crescent of pastry-wrapped cheesey loveliness), served with lots of particularly splendid flatbread. The different breads at the Last Pub Standing deserve a mention of their own as they are so good, and are served with several of the dishes – including our main courses of Hungarian goulash and the Persian jewelled lamb. The meat is also excellent, and there are several fish dishes too, but vegetarians might feel a little overlooked. There’s a great-sounding mushroom, red lentil, stilton and chestnut roast on the Sunday menu, and the bar snacks include veggie dishes, but there is not a massive choice.
However, for meat eaters it is marvellous. There was so much tender beef in warming paprika sauce, served with suetty shredded dumplings, for me, and melt-in-the-mouth lamb with orange and cinnamon rice and pomegranate seeds for Howard, that we were unable to finish the bread, or even start a pudding. I’m assuming the cardamom, saffron and chocolate bread and butter pudding, would have been particularly good. There’s also a cheesecake of the day and a cheeseboard which brings the menu back to Norfolk, with Norfolk Dapple and Tawny and White Lady and more. It will soon lure me back to the Last Pub Standing. With reasonable prices and friendly and eager-to-please staff, whether you want a rich, hearty and authentic meal from around the world, or just a beer, glass of wine, coffee, or bar-snack pie of the day, the Last Pub Standing deserves to be a destination in itself and pretty much standing room only.