Friday, 26 September 2014

The Woolpack Yard

It has been an unforgivably long time since either of us posted on here, and for this I sincerely apologise to all our ardent fans (well, my mum reads this blog, at least). In the last few months, we have moved house, been on holiday, attended a couple of weddings and allotmented pretty darn hard. Oh, and I started my masters this week. All of these things have cost time and money, leaving a depleted amount of either for meals out. I know this is a flimsy excuse. But now we are back, I assure you, from our summer hiatus.

Last week, we decided to make use of a cinema voucher that was given to us by our lovely friends James and Charlotte, and went to see Pride. A truly marvellous film. But more about that later. With a few hours to kill before the film, we decided to take advantage of the tapas happy hour at the Woolpack Yard.

Neither of us had ever seen or heard of the Woolpack, but I had seen a couple of posts about it on Facebook in recent weeks, and decided I liked the look of it. Tucked away on Muspole Street, just off Duke Street, it is big and purple and inviting. They have a few interesting beers that I’d never encountered before (including their own Woolpack lager), cocktails, and an extensive tapas menu. Between 5:30 and 6:30, Monday to Thursday, all tapas dishes are two for the price of one – hence the appeal to us frugal young foodies. The girl behind the bar was extremely friendly and welcoming when we went in, even offering us a brief history of the pub, and we were soon seated in a cozy room decorated with fairy lights – ubiquitous Norwich hipster-chic, but fun. Ben had a pint of Yardbird Pale Ale, and I had some sort of posho sloe gin and elderflower cocktail – I got the impression from our waitress’s eagerness to check back and make sure it was ok that it was the first one she’d ever made, but it was very nice.

The menu is divided into meat, seafood and vegetarian. Everything sounded so good that we both got a bit overexcited, but we managed to restrain ourselves and choose six dishes. After we ordered, our lovely waitress let us know about the fine range of board games on offer, and we had a raucous game of charades while waiting for our food to arrive. (Ben only refrained from acting out the classic song ‘My Ding-A-Ling’ due to the fact that there were children at the next table).

Ben, who is a fan of any pork of the pulled variety, went for the Jack Daniels pulled pork tacquitos, which he proclaimed delicious, and even went on to compare them to a similar dish at Wahaca in London. High praise indeed. The black pudding croquettes, on the other hand, he found slightly bland and disappointing. Could have used more pudding, apparently. I had the Cajun rubbed crispy squid, partly because I love calamari and partly because I was amused by the image of a hapless chef massaging a squid with Cajun spices. It was crispy and spicy and delicious, and went very well with the smoked paprika mayonnaise that came with another of our choices, sweet potato bon bons (amazing). We also shared fried halloumi with spicy couscous (tasty, because duh, halloumi) and gnocchi with roast tomato, goats cheese and caramelized onion. The latter was definitely my favourite of the lot. I could easily have eaten a huge, non-tapas sized bowl of it. I’m getting really hungry thinking about it now. I might have to run straight back there now and eat about twelve portions of it, before Ben gets home from work.

Due to the two for one offer, our bill was pleasantly low for such nice food (around 25 quid for six dishes, a pint and a half of beer, and a posh cocktail). I’m not sure I’d go outside of the deal though, as I can imagine it could very quickly get quite pricy. The Woolpack also does dessert tapas, but we decided to buy Minstrels from Tesco and smuggle them into the cinema instead.

We were full and happy, and after a chat with Ben’s aunt outside Jane Austen College and another drink at the Rumsey Wells we toddled along to Vue, only to find that we were the only people who had turned up to watch that particular screening of Pride. The cinema was empty. The only time anything even close to this has happened to me before was at a midafternoon, weekday showing of a rather disturbing independent Australian teen thriller, which my friend Bridget and I found ourselves watching with only a solitary middle aged man for company. So, naturally, we kicked our shoes off, sat in the comfy ‘luxury’ seats and made out a lot. Pride was incredibly inspiring, entertaining and heartbreaking, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

So, to sum up, go to the Woolpack Yard if you’re into nice booze and tasty, interesting tapas-y food, with genuinely friendly, helpful service and a twinkly sort of atmosphere. And go to Vue in the Castle Mall on a Thursday night if you want a surprise private screening of a film of your choice.