Be careful if you arrange to meet-and-eat in Jarrold’s; there are not one but four eateries. In the basement is Café Metro (self-service): in the wonderful book department is Chapters, where you can revive yourself and read awhile. The top floor has The Pantry (also self-service); but if you wish to dine elegantly, comfortably and be waited upon, Benji’s is the place; tucked away on the first floor in a corner of ladies’ fashions.
On the menu is a large variety of meal types: we were tempted by one of the Sharing-Platters but decided against because I like to report on two different meals, and anyway the ladies at the next table were busy demolishing the fish sharing-platter and it looked fabulous (but more of that later*). I was in the mood for roast meat, and was pleased to see Rump of Lamb, Twice Cooked, With Pesto Mash, and Sweet & Sour Aubergine; my companion chose the £12.50 meal-deal-special which comprises two courses chosen from a designated starter, main, and a pud, with a glass of wine. This was particularly attractive as the three elements bought separately would have far exceeded this figure. My lamb was thickly cut, prettily pink in the middle and generous in proportion. The pesto mash was creamy and complemented the meat very well. The crisped up aubergine peelings lay atop the meat, whilst the rest of it was under the mash providing a welcome sharp – sweet and sour - contrast. My friend’s coq au vin came in its own mini casserole and was decanted onto her plate; the vessel being whipped away smartly by our attentive waitress. Once released, it revealed itself to be a very generous portion. It was accompanied by cabbage – the telling vegetable – which was cooked to perfection, and also creamy mash. My friend’s glass of white wine was indistinguishable from my full price one, and both were chilled and mellow.
The meal-deal-special pudding was a base of a creamy rich salted caramel and peanut mousse, topped with ice-cream and pinioned by a shard of clear boiled sugar encapsulating tiny dark vanilla seeds; enchanting to look at and wonderful to eat.
I have difficulty veering away from ice cream, but as the alternatives were A Chocolate Orange Brownie (not fond of oranges),or the concoction that my friend was having, or a sharing-platter pudding, I was easily redirected to Ice Cream Affogato. To save you searching out your dictionary I can report that this is a ‘coffee-based beverage created from a scoop of vanilla ice cream ‘drowned’ with either hot or cold strong espresso coffee’. Fortunately the elements were served separately and very elegantly with slices of biscotti biscuit to dip. My friend had an Americano to finish – I declined further coffee.
*As to the fish sharing-platter, my friend returned to the restaurant the very next day and shared one with her husband. Plenty for two; smoked salmon, prawns, mackerel pate, you name it. Delicious!
Lamb with pesto mash £12.00
Italian Affogato ice cream £04.50
One special all-in lunch £12.50
One glass of wine £04.80
One coffee £02.80
Benji's Opening Times
Mon: 9.00am - 5.00pm
Tue: 9.30am - 5.00pm
Wed: 9.00am - 5.00pm
Thur: 9.00am - 5.00pm
Fri: 9.00am - 5.00pm
Sat: 9.00am - 5.00pm
Sun: 10.30am - 4.00pm
Benji’s at Jarrold’s, Norwich
Address: 1-11 London Street, Norwich NR2 1JF
Phone: 01603 660661