New opening: Warwick Street Social, Norwich
The Mad Moose in Norwich’s popular Golden Triangle has always been a handsome thing – perched on the top of a hill in the centre of two rows of red brick Victorian houses, it’s front lawn could almost double as a small village green.
With its yellow rendering, round bar and upstairs restaurant, this huge, detached gastropub has been a weekly institution for locals of all walks of life – students, doctors, young families, creative types – for over a decade.
So it was with a certain amount of surprise when I learnt that the forthcoming Warwick Street Social – a soon-to-be-open-spot that had already made an impressive dent on Twitter – was, in fact, The Mad Moose.
Opening its doors two days earlier than its 31 May slate, Muddy managed to drop in for a drink (and a snoop) as soon as work schedules and childcare would allow (and, as luck would have it, on 31 May – at least one of us sticks to the schedule!).
The first thing I notice is the grey paint that has replaced the garish yellow exterior – still eye-catching but altogether more stylish. Window frames are navy, while the simple triangle-in-a-gold-square logo that I have gotten used to seeing on social media takes pride of place between the two upstairs windows.
The entrance resembles a London property, with its familiar front door and gold handle inviting you in as if visiting a old friend in Chelsea or Pall Mall.
Inside, the configuration has cleverly been left the same (it always worked), with a central round bar, seating along the left and to the back, and an upstairs restaurant. The smell of fresh paint hits me as I walk in, with more of the stylish grey on the tongue and groove wood panelling around the round bar (I would bet my money on a Farrow & Ball shade).
Above the bar are metro tiles for more of that London look, while to the left is a bank with stools for five bums in a row. More grey tongue and groove monopolises the bottom half of the wall.
It’s not all grey, I hasten to add, with teal crush velvet sofas under the window at the front and along the wall at the back. One long sofa fills each space, making these areas both sociable and comfortable.
Mention must be made of the lighting, which is stripped back and raw, and very much on trend.
There is dining for 45 covers upstairs, while food can be served downstairs for guests looking for more casual dining. The menu is so large that, to fit it on one clean sheet of A4 paper, the font has been condensed so far that my mother would struggle to read it without her bi-focals perched on her nose.
Luckily, I can read it and it tells me that the WSS (to give it its local name, I guess) has commissioned Chef Patron Daniel Smith to create breakfasts (smoked salmon, sausages, muffins, Greek yoghurt with fruit), small plates (cheese fritters, cod cheeks, crab rarebit), lunches (salads, soups), dinners (sea salt belly pork, buttermilk chicken, Portabello mushroom burger), Sunday lunch (of course) and specials such as Fizz & Fish Friday (fish and chips with a glass of fizz).
On heading to the loo after my pint of Becks Vier (cheap at £3.80), I notice two things: the loos are separated, meaning you don’t have to pee in a cubicle next to somebody else, and the outdoor seating area (here on in called a terrace) is a similar layout to before – mainly paved with a variety of different seats.
So, what does the future hold for the Warwick Street Social (WSS to locals and those in the know)? The nicely designed promotional card on the bar says thus: “The social hub of Norwich’s Golden Triangle serving modern inventive dishes and on-point drinks. An urban meeting place for breakfast, casual daytime dining, dinner time get- togethers and much more…” We wish Warwick Street Social the best of Muddy luck.
Warwick Street Social, 2 Warwick Street, Norwich, Norfolk, NR2 3LD. Tel: 01603 627687. warwickstsocial.co.uk